Thursday, September 23, 2010


Last week was fashion week, if anyone was paying any attention to such a thing. We used to have a local fashion writer on our little local daily paper and she would go to New York and hobnob with designers and media fashion stars and write a full report for the Sunday paper with accounts of luncheons at Park Avenue designers' luxurious apartments and all. This always struck me as somewhat over the top for our small town . I mean, the publisher's wife made her own goddam clothes, for cryin' out loud. This fashion editor wrote well enough to win awards for her breathless accounts of what she saw on the runways. She was also the editor of what used to be called the Society page, and was my favorite source for WCLV's "This Week in the Media," for which prizes were awarded to those sending in goofs from the media. I don't know how many prizes I won thanks to her: CDs, jewelry, tickets, etc. I even got something published in the New Yorker from one of her columns, plus a check for $25.00. But I digress.

My subject today is the irritating word choices that the fashion folks use. The first is their calling pants "pant," as in, "Here we have this divine pant from Gucci, in hot pink silk boucle,"

A pant is what one does in the heat of passion, or what your pooch does when the weather is hot. If you are wearing a pant, you may well be run in for indecent exposure. Maybe a one legged pair of pants could be called a pant, but then again, you may have the indecent exposure thing happening. The word "pants" is plural. Use it, dammit.

The other word usage which irritates the hell out of me is "You look well in that dress," or "That dress looks well on you." This is quite common, and is of those "between you and I" school of excruciating attempts at correctness. Clothing is moot capable of looking, therefore it cannot look well or even spectacularly. It is not capable of being ill, ergo, cannot look well. If one has been sick, then one can look well (healthier) even in rags, if need be, once one has recovered. It is okay to use the word "good." If something looks good on a person, clothing, a necklace, a tick, for goodness say tell them they look good, o r that the clothes they have on look good on them, or if they have torn them off and are panting, tell them that they had looked good, especially with their pants on.

God! Idiots!! - Napoleon Dynamite.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Gold and Blue Septemeber

In spite of the drought which is turning the trees too early, we've had some lovely days this month. The corn stalks in the fields are already that dry tan hue, and they rattle in the breeze. The colors of the tree leaves are pale tans and faded reds rather than the bright golds, deep reds and oranges that should come in October. I fear we won't have that this year. However the sky is brilliant cobalt and the golden rod blazes in the fields.

Saturday I drove up to Rafael's bakery and took a different set of roads to get there. It was just beautiful: rows of white fenced meadows and neat farms, views for miles from the top of rolling hills. As I approached the village where his bakery is, it looked as if I were in New England, with the little church's white steeple poking up above the trees. I had never come to the village from that direction, so it was as if I were discovering it for the first time. I bought a loaf of his sweet bread, which has blueberries and strawberries studding the round loaf. Great with tea in the afternoon.

Yesterday, John and I drove up to Lake County to explore two historic sites. The first was the Kirtland Temple, built in 1833 by the followers of Joseph Smith, one of the founders of the Church of the Latter Day Saints. It is one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever been in. I am in awe of those early craftsmen, who did everything by hand. Every aspect of it it is so graceful and symmetrical. We were not allowed to take any pictures inside, unfortunately. The top floor is the educational area, and consists of these absolutely perfect connecting classrooms, so that when you look through the door of the last one, back into the first thee rooms, it's almost like looking through a mirror at a reflection of a series of doorways. Maybe you hadda b e there.

The downside of the tour is that you have to listen to the fantastic story of their religion. An angel named Maroni? At the dedication of the temple, there were flaming people dancing on the roof, dropping down from the sky, and Jesus came into the main room, as did a few of those Old Testament prophets, like Isaiah and all. Since all religions have their fantasies, I guess this one isn't all that ridiculous. But, an angel named Maroni? The first time I toured there, a number of years ago, I asked the guide who the architect was, and she said, "God." This time the guide told us that a number of skilled craftsman built it and that they used Jonathan Goldsmith's ( a Western Reserve architect of the 18th -early 19th century whose beautiful homes are still around) pattern books. It is an amazing edifice, that Temple, and I am sure that God would like it very much.

Next we went out the Kirtland-Chardon Road to explore a house that is in one of my books on Western Reserve architecture, which John wanted to see. It's a stone farmhouse, built around the same time ass the Temple. John went to a part f Canada this summer, to a small town called Cambridge, which had bee settled by Scottish stonemasons. It was a stone mason's paradise, and he was particularly intrigued by a certain style of cottage. Regent style?

The house we went to see is almost an exact replica of those kinds of cottages. It has bee re-habbed by the Herb Society of America and is now their national headquarters, a perfect fit for such an organization. It had been abandoned for a number of years, so they have had t o do a lot of work on it. In the early 20th century it had been owned by the architect (Hubbell) who designed the Cleveland Museum of Art and the West Side Market. He had made a few additions in the 20s, but had not disturbed the basic integrity of the building. The librarian showed John all through it, basement to attic, while I sat and enjoyed the sun shining through the windows. (Which reminds me: the glaziers of the Temple windows were none other than Brigham Young and his brother And all the inside windows still have their original glass panes!) It's a perfect sort of house, with two large front rooms and fine windows that bring in the light and give you a view of green things.

It was a good day to enjoy old buildings in the sun, especially in the Western Reserve, a little bit of old New England carved out off the forests of northeastern Ohio.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


I had a few rants which I had planned for my next post, but a tragic event has put some perspective on what's really important. The brother of a very dear friend (a friend who is practically a family member) ended his life the other day, leaving everyone in a state of shock and deep sadness. I did not know the deceased very well, having only met him a few times, but his bereaved brother is very dear to me and to my family. He had talked about his brother to me, and I understood him to be a gifted but troubled person, but without any hint of ever being suicidal. It is so sad that he felt he had no other choice, and that he did not explore other options for whatever he was feeling that led him to take such a step.

Any death is sad, but death by one's own hand is not just sad, but leaves its survivors with so many unanswered question: Why ? What could I have done to stop it? Did I miss any signals? And , again, Why?

For many years, I worked at a mental health agency, first on the crisis line, then as a trainer of volunteers for the crisis line, and then as director of the community education program. As a volunteer I fielded calls from suicidal clients. I trained other volunteers to handle such calls. We had the advantage that if people called a hot line, they were ambivalent about actually going through with ending their lives. We also did have people call who had already taken pills and needed help to survive. It was frightening, rewarding work.

When I moved into eh community education program, my staff and I developed a number of programs dealing with mental health issues, including a school based suicide prevention program, in which we helped kids understand that there were school and community based resources to help them wrestle with family and personal issues which might cause them to feel desperate enough to consider suicide, that there were other options. From that we developed workshops for educators, social workers and church personnel to familiarize them with warning signs and resources. We were quite busy with requests for these programs, which, alas, are no longer available regularly in the community because of budget cuts.

One of the last workshops which I designed was on the aftermath of suicide, the impact on those left behind. The participants were social workers, ministers and educators. I had a number of people as presenters who had experienced the loss of a loved one in this way. a father, a mother and a widow. All had experienced guilt and anger along with the pain of loss. All had worked through their grief over a number of years, but it was a powerful experience, hearing their stories.

I bring all of this up because, even though I have worked with this issue, and have talked with suicidal people, there is still something so terrifying, so mysterious, so painful when it happens and when someone you know and care about is having to face that kind of nightmare. I know my friend will get through it; he has a lot of good friends, but I wish he didn't have to.

Friday, September 10, 2010


After not going to Blossom Center but once all summer, we ended with a flurry of visits, My friend Helen performed with the Blossom Festival Orchestra (the Cleveland Orchestra was touring Europe at the time) and gave me comp box seats for the performance. Box seats!! In all the years I've gone thee I've either sat on the lawn on on the hard seats in the pavilion. It was quite a treat to have nice cushioned seating. The program was "Music for the Greatest Generation," and it was geezer city there....never seen so many walkers, wheelchairs and three legged canes. A bus load of them came in late and it took them forever to find and get into their seats. Helen did a group of great songs from that time, looking quite glamorous in blue stain. Her Mun was there, too, visiting from England. I took Mum up to Amish country the next week and we had a great time. She's NOT a geezer, being a young 70 and quite ambulatory.

My poetry award provided tickets to the final Blossom Center programs for the year. It was the Joffrey Ballet, with the Cleveland Orchestra as the pit band. Not bad! The young dancers were just terrific. Such leaps! Such grace! Such athleticism, especially in the make dancers! The whole company was a collection of these perfect little bodies, with one rather tall make dancer who was a splendid Corsaire. The music varied from Tchaikovsky, Phillip Glass, to Gottschalk. There was a witty Tarantella, with choreography by the great Balanchine, which I would love to see again.

It was a beautiful evening to be at Blossom Center. It is a wonderful venue for listening to music or watching ballet. Years ago when the girls were little, I took them there to watch the New York City Ballet, with the likes of Edward Vilella and Jzacques D'Amboise at their peak. They did Balanchine's "Jewels," all glitter and agility - beautiful.

It's been a while since I've seen live ballet, other than "Nutcracker." I used to have a season ticket to the Akron Ballet, which was developed by Heinz Poll who was a choreographer whose ballets are still being done here and there. The company dissolved after he died and funding disappeared. Too sad. It's hard for a city the size of Akron to support the arts now, with all the big factories closing. The art museum and the symphony are both very well supported and are high quality, but 30 miles north are two of the top cultural organizations in the country which draw more of the available money for such things. We're lucky to have access to all of those things where we live, as well as the university's offerings.


The day after I received news of winning the poetry contest, Dupree promptly went into a decliner. He stopped eating , lay under his arbor vita tree all day without moving, and looked as if he was not long for this world. John rushed him to the vet, who hydrated him and took some blood tests. The vet gave him a steroid shot also. He continued to lie about and not eat. John took him back to the vet the next day who took X-rays and told John that there was cancer in Dupree's stomach and lungs. John decided to get a second opinion and took him to another vet. That one found a lot of gum infection and pulled a couple of teeth and started him on a course of antibiotics. He is eating again and seems to be a lot better. He is 16, and up until now, he has been quite kittenish. I hope he'll be with us for a while longer.