Saturday, April 30, 2016

Lead in the Head

I think there is now much evidence that the terrible situation in Flint, Muchigan is not confined to that beleaguered locale.  Increasingly, there is evidence of severe brain damage on a national scale. How else to explain the clear madness affecting voters in so many states during this primary season?
There can be no doubt that the lead contamination has affected the water supply across the country. In state after state, voters have gone to the polls and chosen as a nominee for president a person with the mentality and behavior of a thirteen year old boy.
Apparently the poison in the water has caused these people to imagine that this whole system of choosing a president is like that old "Let's Make a Deal," TV show where people put on ridiculous costumes and props to get on the show. Ever since men like Nixon and George W. Bush were elected to second terms, I have not had much trust in the American voter, but this time it seems downright hopeless. I know that there are those who switched parties during the primaries, either to give the Demicratic nominee a clear chance to win the general election, or to thwart the Big Orange Face's victory, but I think that strategy may backfire, and one hates to see the gloating and bragging that happens with every primary victory he bags.
So check your water supply. Buy the bottled stuff. Clear your brain.
Or just don't drink the water.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Being Socially Responsible

I have joined the Socially Responsible Sweatshop, a group of women who do good things in a basement. Well, it's not just any basement. It's in the beautiful home of my friend Carol. There is even a fireplac, comfortable couches and chairs and about 8 or 9 sewing machines. The group consists of women from the Universalist  Unitarian church and the year -round Kent Farmers' Market. The purpose of this group is to proved funds for those who use food stamps, by adding access to fresh produce and helping them to stretch their food budgets.
How they do this is so ingenious and practical and fun that the sweatshop moniker doesn't really apply in reality. They make yoga bags, pillows and meditation cushions. Kent is a big yoga town, with a number of studios,which are happy to purchase these goods. The materials are recycled from numerous sources (including the occasional dumpster). For instance, Goodwill sells silk scraps by the pound. At my first session, my job, since I can't sew these days, was to go through a big box of these beautiful  scraps and lay them out flat into neat piles which then went to whoever was ironing that day. These particular scraps will be made into smooth and lovely eye pads for yoga people. I think they're filled with soothing herbs or something. Om.
A woman next to me was cutting strips from tee shirts, which were then used to stuff the meditation cushions. I reckon those are what a yoga person sits on to chant and think beautiful thoughts.The women on the sewing machines were making bright and colorful yoga bags and the cushion covers. Altogether, there were fourteen of us.
A little after noon, we went upstairs for lunch, prepared by Mara, who loves to cook, and had a terrific lunch, with real lemonade, not the frozen stuff. We sat at two tables and ate and talked. I only knew two or three of the people, but it was easy to feel at home with all of them. Some of them are rather earnest and serious about the mission, but that doesn't get in the way of the general feeling camaraderie.
We had a man show up, Brad Bolton,  whom Carol had invited to come and observe the action.My family may remember Brad as the musician who played the turkey baster at my 80th birthday party. He's also one of the best guitarists in Northeast Ohio and a fine photographer. He didn't bring his guitar, but he did take a slew of photos and was very impressed.
I was also impressed, and look forward to the next meeting. Carol said maybe I can stuff some catnip mice, a little product they make to sell at the farmers' market. Sounds like a plan to me.

The picture is of the woods last week, after we'd had a few warm days.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Granddawg

I have written about a couple of cats, so now I must write about Polly's magnificent pooch, Petey. He is part standard poodle and part Southern hound, which is not a breed, but seems to describe one of his  parents. I only know Petey through pictures, videos, and the words of Polly. She did not mean to get a large dog, but the shelter told her that he was just the dog for her. He was about six months old when she got him, and was a big puppy. I think he looks quite beautiful. All of her friends love him, too  take care of him when she comes to Ohio to visit our cat dominated home.
His godfather is one of Polly's friends, who I think would like to steal Petey. His name is Paul Lisicky, and he was just awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship literary award. His latest book, a memoir  titled "The Narrow Door" has received glowing reviews from all the top lit critics everywhere. (He is one of the dog sitters, and has taken some very cool photos, including the one below, which shows off Petey's greyhound-like legs. This relationship makes Petey an obscure connection to fame, of course.)
When a portrait of Petey was posted on Facebook, my favorite comment was that he had a sincere face.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Izzy Petrou

I have to show off another great-grand cat, which I have never met in person. She is the first cat in the Petrou family since the tragic demise of the late, great Mookie. He lived to be quite old, so the girls had never had a kitten when they were small, since Mookie came before them. He was a beautiful Maine Coon cat, about the size of  a VW Beetle, almost.
So, basically, Izzy was greeted with the joy only an adorable kitten can engender. I have pictures of her cute kitten antics, one of which was a kind of skittering crab walk, where she hopped sideways on all fours. It was a much admired talent. She was probably smothered by the Mookie-bereft family, which had been catless for several years. I remember visiting when he was old and the girls were young, and their asking if they could get a gerbil when he died. They weren't being heartless; they just wanted something little, I think. Anyway, Izzy filled the need very well.
Since the arrival of Francine, I hear that she has become a bit distant, obviously feeling betrayed by he former adoring humans, and spends a lot of time outside. She does not like Francine the usurper. I find this unusual. Sixto has adopted a cute fluffy gray neighbor cat, with which he frolics out in the yard. And Dupree and Herman, the constant tiger interloper slept side by side on the back of our couch, which was Dupree's spot, like Sheldon's. Maybe it's because Izzy and Francine aren't into sharing space or humans. As I mentioned before, girl cats are different.

Drawing Class

We finished Susan Shie's online drawing class last week. This was the second class I took this winter, and it was so enjoyable, mainly because of the quality of the students. They were talented, creative and witty.
These classes are not instructional; that is, Susan doesn't tell you how to draw, or critique your work. She does some videos demonstrating how she goes about her own work, as well as showing different media. We have specific assignments, specific as to topic, but allowing each student to develop her own interpretation of that topic. Aside from these assignments, there are various "Special Eventsr,"  which arise as things that may dominate the media. One can choose to participate or not in these events. My previous drawing of Emma was related to the death of Harper Lee.
We have a private Facebook page,  available only to the students in each class, where we make our own albums and add our drawings. You can see everyone's work and comment on it. Everyone is supportive and encouraging, so that creates an atmosphere in which you can experiment and have fun. Participants are from all over the country, and occasionally from Europe.
The above drawing was my response to the assignment called "Blues." I thought of the Blue Man Group, while most of the others did musicians. It all worked, of course.
I'm going to take a break, but will get back to the class later. They run for four weeks, and are offered frequently. It helps to keep me from my IPad addiction. Almost.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Francine Petrou

I have two great-grand cats who live in Germany. I have never met them, but there are photos emailed or on Facebook from time to time. One is pictured on this post. Her name is Francine. The other is named Izzy, and I'll write about her another time.
I did the painting above about three or four years ago. It is from a photo taken by Elena, one of my granddaughters, who is a very good photographer. I loved the colors in the photo, especially the twilight blue outside the window, the bright red chair, the dark red wine and the general yellow glow of the whole thing. It was very Gabrielle  Munter.
Like most cats in our family, Francine is loved and spoiled. We are cat crazies, all of us. We like dogs, too, but appreciate the feline ability to take care of themselves better than canines do. Ours have always been people oriented and not  aloof, although females do seem to have that attitude more than males. (As I type this, there's a sleeping cat curled up on my lap.)
Francine is a tortoise shell cat, prefers the indoors to outside, is a little plump, and loves to do cute
poses on the stairs, which requires caution on the part of the humans who live with her. She and Izzy do not get along. These things I only know from hearsay.
The picture below is another, quite recent photo by Ellie, who was trying to read at the time. I was struck by the similarity of her face to the look in the earlier photo. She gives one a straightforward look, confident, and in charge of the moment, a sense of entitlement.
Cats! What good are they?

Friday, March 25, 2016

Maple Syrup Time

This past Sunday was the last pancake breakfast day this year. Because Lent was so early this year, there were only three Sunday's available before Easter. The fish fry Frudays had the same problem. We only got to one of each this year. Both are down home, community doings  in very small local villages, with people coming from far and wide to experience that Norman Rockwell ambience. (I've written previous posts about both in the past, including one fish fry during which I managed to break my left hip.i proceed cautiously at such events these days.)
The Shalersville pancake breakfast is presided over by Mrs.  Goodall, a slow art 90 something retired teacher, newspaper columnist and doyenne of Goodell Maple Orchard and farm. She is quite tall and motions people to their seats. Young students attend the tables, filling coffe cupe, offering refills on pancakes and sausage. Everything runs like clockwork, but there is never a feeling of being rushed.
It is a thoroughly satisfying experience.
The fish fry is held in a little town called St. Joseph, founded in the late 19th century by German Catholics. There's a scattering of houses and farms surrounding an umpressuvely large church and school. The dinners are held in the huge gym, which is filled with crowds of fish lovers, served by  dozens of elementary school students. Again, it is extremely efficient, and the food is excellent  - cod, shrimp, Mac and cheese, green beans, potatoes baked or fried, slaw and homemade desserts. No seconds, but you don't need anything else.
Well, both these events are over for the year, but we still have a couple of church spaghetti dinners left. One must eat, after all.