Monday, February 29, 2016

A Memory

In our online drawing class, we were asked to do a piece in homage to the late Harper Lee. One reason I loved "To Kill a Mockingbird" is that it is so evocative of my own childhood, which was during the same period as that in the book. In this picture, I am 9 years old. It is 1936 and we are in Atlanta, Georgia. The other person is Emma, and she is in her 70s, and was born into slavery around the time of the Civil War This did not seem remarkable to me, because in the South in those days, that war was about two weeks ago.
I am reading Emma's favorite comic strip in the Atlanta Journal. The strip is about a young woman named Pam, whom Emma calls "Pom." I am reading to her because she has forgotten her glasses, which happens every day. When I asked my mother about  this, she said that Emma probably could not read, but that I was not to say anything to her about this, ever.
Emma came to work after my mother gave birth to her fifth child, who was born about 18 months after the fourth one. Emma did the washing and ironing, and once in a while, the cooking. She made fried bread, and cooked greens in salt pork, and insisted that I drink the "pot likker" a bit of folk wisdom in that that's where all the vitamins ended up. I was the skinniest shie'd she'd ever seen and needed fattening up.
The only clue I ever had about her history was that during the Halloween season she was frightened by people wearing masks, which she called "dough faces," and also by kids wearing sheets to play ghosts. She told my mother that it all reminded her of the night riders, those terrorists who rode into Black settlements, torching cabins and burning churches.
It wasn't until many years later, when I read "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman," a fictional, but well-researched account of a woman born about the same time as Emma, who lived through  those awful times, and lived long enough to vote in her nineties. (It was made into a terrific TV movie with the magnificent Cicely Tyson.)  I immediately thought of Emma, and wondered if that gentle old lady had lived long enough to vote. I wondered if she had gone through some of the trials Miss Pittman had endured, especially as a child and young woman. Something had helped her survive into her seventies, still strong enough to go to work every day. I would never have thought to ask her about her life, which would have been rude, but I wish I knew more about her. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

The View From the Throne

I strive not to be indelicate. However, this post nay be considered thus.
Sixto loves the bathroom. When John takes his shower, he is joined by the black cat, who strolls around the rim of the tub between the curtains. If the door is closed before he hears the running water, he sits at the door and demands entry.
When I go in to, uh, use the facility, he comes running in, throws himself flat on the floor in front of my feet and stretches out on his back, requesting a belly rub. I have never had a cat that interested in that particular human activity, or assuming that I cannot function without him.
'Tis  a puzzlement. He has no respect for privacy.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Romantic Me

When my favorite radio station, WCLV, the best classical music venue, goes into its fund raising mode, I send in my contribution and then switch to WQXR until the money talk is  over. This usually lasts about a week. WQXR had previously asked listeners to send in their most romantic classical music choices. The top twelve were played yesterday in celebration of Valentine's Day.
It was a trip down memory lane to my adolescence and my obsession for the Romantic era  of music, and it's still beautiful to hear,  the old favorites, plus some I didn't discover until I was older.
My young choices, things I heard on the radio, which in those days had many classical music programs, and of which I bought those heavy 78 rpm albums  or singles were what I heard yesterday: Tchaikovsky's "Romeo and Juliet Overture," Debussy's "Clair de Lune," Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata," liszt's "Liebenstraum," and Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concero. That last was also the soundtrack to one of the most romantic ( and saddest) movies ever made, "Brief Encouner."
A little later came the Liebestod from "Tristan and Isolde," the love/ death aria of their tragic love story. Somehow love and death were very appealing concepts to me.
Another on the list, which came into my life later, was that gorgeous second movement of Mozart's Piano Cocerto 21, which  became known for its use in the movie "Elvira Madigan," a story of two beautiful young lovers who end up committing suicide....more love/death themed associations. By the time I saw that movie I was pretty much over with that obsession, but I do love that piece.
Another one on the list that I discovered about twenty years ago was the adagio movement from Mahler's 5th Symphony, which is probably the most gorgeous piece of music ever written. It was used as the soundtrack to "Death in Venice," so there you are again.
As soon as I heard this program yesterday, I flashed back to that skinny adolescent sitting by the record pkayer, which one had to do in those says if you didn't have a record changer, so you could flip the record or  put the next one on as quickly as you could in order not to break the mood. TodAy, you have access to almost every piece of music ever composed with a tap of a finger on a device you can carry with you. Today's young people are probably a lot less inclined toward the old fashioned romantic fantasies of my era. I think I would be labeled "emo" today. Whatever. It was a rich phase to me

Monday, February 1, 2016

Iowa. What Good Is It?

It is still early in the day. I do not know what portends. A couple of weeks ago, on "The Good Wife," they only did the Democrat side, and  Hilary came in first, and Chris Noth, the raftink husband, came in last, thus dashing his hopes for the presidency.
I am already sick of the whole thing, tired of the media fascination with the Big Jerk, and worried about the state of intelligence in this country.
This is the last drawing of the online drawing class and it was fun drawing all those red faced, angry white men promoting their guy, aiming to vote against their own self-interest. Since the "American Dream" seems to be mainly about getting rich, I guess they think some of his wealth will somehow rub off on them. Oy!
I included a Miss Universe on the Far Right side. She only wants World Peace.