Sunday, June 28, 2015

Another Book Appears



Emily decided that a book I did about my Atlanta childhood in the 1930s  needed to be published. I had sent it out a number of times back  when almost  every publisher would accept unsolicited mss., and although a couple of them liked it, they didn't like it enough to publish it. In those days I would send a black and white dummy, which didn't do much for the illustrations. These days publishers do no want manuscripts or any over the transom submissions. One needs an agent, and getting an agent if you haven't been published is difficult.
At any rate, I quit sending things out years ago. I had the  book about my mother published at my own expense, mainly for my family. I was very pleased with how it turned out and it was well received by May's many descendants, an inter-family best seller.
Several people I know have had books published through Blurb, another for hire publisher. It's an easy to use system, if you have normal eyesight, which I do not. When Emily was here last year, she had a lot of my illustrations scanned and was determined to have "The Last Summer" published. It's a different system from the way my other book was done. The  book costs more, for one thing. They have the same "publish as ordered" production method, but do not offer an author's discount.
They did a very nice job with the printing, and Emily did a superb job with the layout and overall design. She chose the font and color of the text, both of which reflect the time period of the book. Speaking of the time period, one publisher had said that children looking at this book would wonder why there was no Tv set pictured. Apparently he figured that people still dress the same way today as the adults pictured in the illustrations.

You can find out more about it here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Transitioning


At the risk of being offensive, in  light of Caitlyn Jenner's recent transition, I do wonder why she found it necessary to spend so much money and pain on her appearance as a glamorous woman. She looks nothing like her former self. She haS been "sculpted" into a facsimile of feminine "beauty," as defined By current cultural standards, as exemplified by her former step- family, for instance.
I  don't know that much about transgender identity, only that it seems to be a very complex and internal sense  of gender confusion and selfhood. It can create much pain, anxiety and uncertainty in someone who experiences  it throughout childhood and adolescence. With more knowledge, more people being open and courageous about accepting their gender identity, perhaps that kind of suffering will be lessened.
What I am wondering about Is not the authenticity of this issue, but of the need to transition not as an ordinary woman, but as some kind of artificial movie star version of a woman, an ideal of the male imagination of how a woman should look, as in the case of Caitlyn Jenner. Many years ago, the early transgendered women like Christine Jorgenson and Renee Richrads were attractiveness but didn't look as if they had been manufactured into facsimiles of Vogue models  by teams of plastic surgeons. Even now, I am sure there are ordinary looking women who were once males without looking like Jenner. The thing is, they are not famous, they are not wealthy enough, or maybe they just want to be themselves as women without the need to look like something else, now that they are comfortable in their own skin.
Just sayin.'

Monday, June 8, 2015

Missing Friends


In the last several months, two old friends have died, friends who go back fifty years. I met one through the other. One I have not seen for many years, since she and her family left Kent many years ago. The other I have seen for at least two years, since I had to quit driving. Phone calls and letters have substituted for face to face tome.
France's diet his past winter, and I learned of her death through the local paper. Even though she had not lived in Kent for over forty years, she had grown up here, and I assume her family knew that there were still people here who would want to know. I had last talked with her about a year  ago, but had been out of touch since then.
Frances was the daughter of one of my favorite English professors, although I did not meet her until I moved back to Kent in the late 50s. She had married young, right out of college and had six children before she was thirty, which I found unusual in someone who was not Catholic. Her children were all bright and attractive, but older than mine. France's was a writer and editor after her family got older, intelligent and interesting. She would come back to Kent while her parents were still alive, and we would get together and talk and talk. She and her husband went through s divorce - not her choice- and she had some hilarious stories about getting back into the dating game. She finally remarried, a man she met while working on as an  editor, and it was a good marriage. Our communication was  sporadic, but always it was as if we had just met a couple of weeks ago. Our last conversation came after the death of her oldest daughter, Sarah, a beautiful, brilliant woman. I think that loss broke  her heart, and I had not heard from her since. My other friend, Pat, said that Frances told her she had given up after that loss, and I have no contact with the family and have no details of Frances's death.
Pat, the other lost friend, died two weeks ago of ultiple myeloma. She'd  been fighting it for four years. I had not seen her for most of that time, but kept in touch. I met her and Frances  at about the same time. We all were at the stage of having small children, and spent a lot of time together. Pat had three sons, roughly about the ages of mine. They lived in what was then "the country " although now you can see the university from their balcony. Pat was a remarkable woman, as is her husband, who is an artist. They decided to bring their boys up to know how to do things. With their father it was using tools and  learning how to make things. ( he was building their house when they were little.) With Pat, it was learning how to cook and sew and manage a household, not because she was a woman, but because they needed to know how to be competent human beings. When they were all in school, she began teaching kindergarten in their local school, which she did for over 30 some years. In the meantime, she began to devote her spare time to creating the most magical miniature houses. You can see her museum quality results  by clicking on "Pat's Amzing Miniatures on the list of friend's blogs on the right.
Both of these women were asignicant part of my young adults oh. They enriched that time for me and I am so glad  I knew them and will never forget them. One thing about getting to be my age is that you find yourself knowing more people who are gone than living people. Many others of my old friends are no more. That's the way it is., but they live in my memory.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Missing May


Good grief! I have completely skipped over the month of May. I'm not sure why that happened. I wasn't binge watching anything on my IPad. I had no out of town company, at least not until the end of the month. I wasn't sick. My online art class  ended somewhere around the middle of the month. Perhaps I had nothing to write about. That's never stopped me before, of course. Perhaps I am just lazy. Yeah, that's it.
The online drawing class did require a lot of physical and mental energy. I must say that I really enjoyed it. I was tempted to go for a third session, but the room where my drawing table is located is not comfortable in the summer, so I shall wait until Fall to do it again. There were, in this second session, some really terrific students, whose work was inspiring and exciting. There were two women from the U.K., one from England and one from Ireland, both of whom did some interesting drawings. It's always fun to work with Susan Shie, too.
My friend Susan B. came  up for a short visit. She had spent the month of January in Florence, and had done some  very fine photos of that beautiful area of Italy. On my first trip abroad she and I had spent a week in Florence. It was December, so the tourist traffic was minimal, and it was such a terrific place to be, a whole city as one big museum, the seat of the Renaissace. You can walk where the Medicis  and Dante walked, to say nothing of Giotto and Michelangelo. I envy her that month. She and a friend rented an apartment overlooking the Duomo. She said they had plenty of room, but my traveling days are over. I just can't do that kind of walking any more. I"m glad I have been able to go to all those magical places in Europe in the past, so I can't complain.
I am definitely not looking forward to the looming presidential brouhaha. The Republicans are desperately seeking ways to deny that President Obama has succeeded in improving things in the country. There was a fine op-Ed piece by Eugene Robinson the other day.  He covered all if the potential Republican candidates on their ideas of how to solve the ISIS crisis ( there's a catchy couplet for ya) and what each one has come up with is what Mr. Obama is already doing. The TV interviewers never do any follow-up questions after they ask for specifics  from people like Cruz or Santorum or others who make brash statements about how they would deal with some of the difficult challenges facing a president. They are never challenged. Those so-called " debates" are unsubstantive farces, not worth the time and money wasted on them. And, my God, I think they're starting this summer.
Well, since I missed May, I offer my last project for the drawing class, a picture of my parents' November, 1922 wedding. One of them is named May, and she is wearing a midnight blue velvet wedding gown.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Spring Awakening


Yeah, I know that's the name of a musical about young  people confused about sex, but I'm talking about the woods across the street. I've been doing a series of drawings for almost a year of the changes the seasons bring to that neighborhood patch of land where local children have played, made forts, sledded, ice skated through the trees at the bottom of the hill, and discovered varieties of bugs, plants, rocks and fungi for over fifty years. For many years the peepers have announced the arrival of spring. Sadly, because of the constant mosquito spraying for the swampy area at the foot of the sledding hill, I haven't heard those singing froglets for a while, so I have to look for other signs.
Things seem to happen suddenly: one day, everything is brown  and gray; the next there is a thin veil of green skimming over the tops of the trees, and the darker, thicker green cloak covers the bushes below. It's just beginning now,  and in a few more days, the woods will look like summer and stay that way until the middle of October.
It's today's beginning touches of tentative green over gray that I like more than the fullness of summer. That's spring to me.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Update



Last year, in a blog post on April 26, I wrote about a series of documentaries I had been watching on the horrors of the Nazi death camps. I mentioned a former SS man who had been an Aughwitz guard. He was unrepentant, insisting it had to be done, including the deaths of children. He said they would have grown up as more Jews, bringing down the whole vworld. He claimed that the only reason he was participating in this film was that he wanted to counteract those who were denying that these things had ever happened. He wanted everyone to know that it HAD happened, the camps and the
deaths of all those people. But he wasn't sorry about it.
In my post I asked the question: Why is this man still here? He looked prosperous and well cared for. But he was a murderer, a thief, a monster.
Well, in today's paper I read that he is now on trial. I don't know when that documentary was made, but I think it was fairly recent. He was not under arrest at that time. But he is now 94 and on trial. Two women, one now from Toronto and one from Hungary are witnesses to his Auchwitz activities. They were teenagers at the time, and they remember him. They said they are not there to see punishment meted out, but to undergo the process of seeing the guilt he bears, and some closure for themselves.
I find this remarkable. Was this documentary and his admitting that he was an SS guard create the opportunity for his arrest after all these years? Did he think he was invulnerable? His comments in that film were so shocking that I still can't understand how he could have lived free for so long. He has had some 70 years more of life, more years than millions of the victims of that undeniable Holicaust.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Spring and Drawing

 


I am continuing the online drawing class I took in March. It's rather addicting. Several of the same people have signed up again. I'm not producing any "art," but I'm having fun drawing a variety of things in a giant sketchboo. figure I may have to keep doing this class untilI fill it up. We're supposed to draw every day, and each week we have a special assignment based on a topic that Susan gives us. This week it is Something Fishy. So far people are doing some pretty colorful, jewel-like drawings. The illustration here is a practice drawing I did in my IPastel computer program, which I can't use for the class. For the class assignment I paired up the boy on the dolphin with a mermaid. I like this one here better, because with this version I can get the iridescence of the fish scales, which I couldn't seem to accomplish on paper. But one of the good things about the class is that I am actually doing some drawing on paper,  leaving the IPad,  enjoying it.
Spring is actually here at last, and this week-end there are leaves popping out on the trees. To add to the seasonal turning, in the past week I've had two Apollo's Fire concerts. A week ago I won four tickets to an afternoon mini-concert for families, examining Vivaldi's Spring, showing the audience how the composer brought in the sounds of the season and demonstrating the instruments and the players' roles in the piece. It was informal and witty. I took Cynthia and Sally and we had a fine time. Went to Corky and Lenny's deli after for brisket.
Then this past Thursday Ann Waters and I went over to Akron to hear them do all four seasons with the full orchestra. After last week's performance, Cynyhia had made me a little painting of Jeannette Sorrell, the orchestra's founder and director, tuning her harpsichord, wearing a beautiful dark blue dress, with the sun shining through a chapel window, lighting up her brilliant red hair. I decided to make a copy of it to give to Ms. Sorrell after this week's concert ( Ann knows her well). Well, the concert was astounding, a full house, stomping, clapping, cheering and uplifted. Ann and I caught Jeanette as she came out and I gave her the picture. The cellist was with her, and they both loved it and she was very pleased to have it. She is probably still wondering who that strange old lady was, and maybe thinks I did the painting. Actually, I did a version of it for my drawing class. We had gotten to the performance last week early. It was in a chapel at one of Cleveland's great churches, and the scene was lovely. Thursday night's was in a huge class Lutheran church in Akron, with great acoustics.
I have missing my Cleveland Orchestra concerts, so it was great to hear an excellent professional group playing full out in a great space.
There is so much good music around here.