Sunday, July 31, 2011

Advanced Style: A Blog To Love

I am loving Advanced Style, the blog that loves stylish older women. Here's Carmen Einfinger, an artist profiled in 2009 in one of Advanced Style's first posts.
And how about Elizabeth Sweetheart who made the blogger's cut in May 2009. Here's a woman after my own heart. She loves green. Even her hair is green. She's worn only green for seven+ years.
Love Marilyn Sokol's look. She's gorgeous. It's about spirit and delight in life and color and motion
I am adding in Virginia Avery here. I'll nominate her as an Advanced Style pioneer. She's played jazz piano for over 50 years, right in her own living room with eight other musicians, for starters. She's a wearable art/quilter extraordinaire and a simply wondrous woman.
And I like Advanced Style's post "The Couple That Styles Together Stays Together." Who else can I possibly be thinking about here?
P.S. Photographer Laurie Perez does it again - what a good picture of us.

Congress Is Not Helping Our Country, At All

Remember when Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said that his most important goal was to make Barack Obama a one-term president. I remember being appalled and heartsick for the country. Was he not at all concerned about his fellow citizens who had lost jobs and homes? No, apparently and transparently not. Jobs? Just not a important enough topic for discussion. Not a real problem to make right.
McConnell's topic for discussion on the Senate floor? Maryann Tobin reports in Political Spin Examiner on July 21, 2011 that McConnell said, "The Constitution must be amended to keep the government in check. We've tried persuasion. We've tried negotiation. We've tried elections Nothing has worked."
Does this sound good to you? Here's a paragraph or two from Norman Ornstein's July 19, 2011 article for Foreign Policy titled "Worst. Congress. Ever.". He speaks again about McConnell's goal.
"But any expectation that bipartisan cooperation and compromise under divided government were going to be a prominent feature of the 112th Congress were soon dispelled when Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said in an October 2010 interview that "single most important thing" he needed to achieve was making Obama a one-term president, as pure an expression of the permanent campaign as one could find. McConnell elaborated in an interview with the Atlantic, in which he explained why his Senate Republicans pursued a conscious policy of uniform opposition in Obama's first two years: "We worked very hard to keep our fingerprints off of these proposals, because we thought -- correctly, I think -- that the only way the American people would know that a great debate was going on was if the measures were not bipartisan."
Ornstein continues, "That approach -- including a concerted effort to repeal or at least hamstring the implementation of Obama's main policy achievements of the 111th Congress-- was ramped up after the midterms. Republicans in the lame-duck session blocked the passage of any appropriations bills for the remainder of the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, 2010, and put the spending measures into an omnibus package, called a continuing resolution, on a short leash. That led to an early and prolonged standoff over spending levels for that year. Many House Republicans demanded on the floor or in the press that there be no compromise with the president."
Imagine. New Republican members of Congress want no part in any legislation that might help millions of folks who live in this country, because they came to Congress for other reasons. They arrived to make this administration totally ineffective because they believe this country is going down the wrong path and they will have none of it. They are not funding anything. They wish to cut everything. Like programs that help the country run smoothly. Like the Federal Aviation Agency.

Republicans appear to be purposefully hampering passage of spending bills. Witness what is already happening at the Federation Aviation Agency, now partially shut down because Congress cannot compromise, thus passing the agency's $16 billion funding bill. At this moment, our country has a basic bare bones air traffic control system. That is it. Thousands of workers are furloughed. Infrastructure projects crucial for air travel have been tabled.

Is this good for our country? For jobs, for growth, for being prepared with the right infrastructure for air transportation? CBS News reported that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood urged Congress to solve their dispute, "And for all of my friends on Capitol Hill who give speeches every day about jobs, the importance of jobs, putting people to work - this is not the time to be laying off 70,000 construction workers."

How long has Congress been squabbling over the FAA's budget? Since April 1, 2011.AviationWeek gives details. The House passed its version of the FAA reauthorization bill (H.R.658). The Senate has its version. But there has been no compromise worked out between the bills. The new House Republicans do not compromise. Ever. They are in Washington to see that money is not spent and the the Obama administration is not effective.

Back to Ornstein's article "Worst. Congress. Ever."
"House Republicans are adamant about refusing to compromise with the president, and are able in most instances to make good on the threat. When they are not able to maintain this unity, they are simply unwilling to bring up or pass measures that would lose significant GOP votes and require as many or more Democrats in support. This is a formula for gridlock, or worse. The Republicans are simply declining to govern."

Declining to govern? In order to make their point? I say, how can so few affect so many? Adversely and without a shred of compassion? There are millions of U.S. citizens without jobs or even hopes for employment, millions more of the poor and infirm for whom most members of Congress have no regard, millions of illegal immigrants who continue to see their life pass by without hope that Congress will address immigration legislative issues. Then, there is our country's next generation. They may begin school in September with greatly increased class sizes and nothing but the basics. I hear some school districts will begin to charge fees to be on a sports team. And school libraries? Art classes? No more. Been cut. These kids are our country's future. Who cares?

Ornstein concludes his article without much hope for this future of ours. He writes, "The Framers saw deliberation, institutional loyalty, and compromise as the only way to produce sensible and legitimate policy decisions in an extended republic. Many Republicans, especially former office holders, understand this. Many of the party's current members surely would prefer to solve problems, if the culture and atmosphere -- and the primary process that gives inordinate power to both parties' ideological bases -- did not make it so hard to do so. But there is little chance that a suitable climate for compromise and bipartisanship will take hold anytime soon -- meaning that we can look forward to more headaches ahead at home and abroad."
Don't you think that it's high time that each of us have that 'aha' moment when we 'see' that we must fight for our lives and our country as we know it? When will we get in there and say our piece, become strategic in our efforts to build and implement a plan to take back our country?When will we take to the streets? Before it's all too late?

Note: I had a terrible time formatting this post, so please forgive the spacing between lines of text. Formatting is a mess, just like Congress.

Note: Photos are taken from The New York Times. Lots of American flags behind from McConnell and Boehner, aren't there?

Note: This morning The Washington Post talks about Mitch McConnell. At the very least, he is an old-timer with true regard for the Senate and he knows how to negotiate. But will the Democrats give too much at our expense?


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Great Style in the Midst of the Debt Ceiling Crisis

So, in the midst of the horrific debit ceiling crisis, which is a totally artificial and potentially devastating Republican/Tea Party issue that could put down our current American way-of-life, and in the midst of CNN email breaking news announcements on the unsuccessful deliberations of our Congress, Earl found and forwarded to me the link to a terrific blog.
Older, put together, sexy, fashionable, smart women, this blog is about us. Take a look at Advanced Style and cheer.
The photo at the top of this post is of Debra Rapaport. The image below is of Beatrix Ost who says, "In your body is a good place to be."
And see this short film about fashion and older women. More cause for celebration and adding more accessories to your day. Scratch that, add them to your whole life.

Monday, July 25, 2011


I feel I've just been given a wonderful gift. The gift of time. This morning I discovered that I have 2 1/2 weeks - instead of a mere ten days - before I fly to New York to see my dear and long time friend Virginia Avery. I checked the calendar this morning and found an extra week in there that I hadn't counted. So, I have plenty of time to finish up paper work for the 1002 Washington Avenue project and install the plaques when they arrive. I might even get to a sorting project here at home.
Sorting? That would be 40 years of negatives. Some are properly filed in notebooks with labels. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other strips of negatives have been used and reused and filed in envelopes or folders that say 'favorites,' 'the good ones,' 'kids,' 'South Padre,' 'Patsy,' 'London.' It goes on and on. All of this before digital upended my image world.
I still haave boxes of Kodak polycontrast paper in my refrigerator though Laurie Perez, a photographer friend of mine, reminded me that the paper had gone through Hurricane Ike when my house did not have electricity for nine days. I neglected to keep the boxes of paper in a big cooler. It's probably all gray by now, but I cling to it because Kodak's polycontrast N surface paper has a surface on which you can print an image and then draw and erase and draw some more, or perhaps leave all the smudges on purpose. The paper's surface surface remains smooth with never the inprint of pencil point.
You can also paint on it with brushes or hand color a photo by using cotton balls brushed with dabs of Marshall's oil paint colors. Marshall's greens and blues were especially seductive.
I used Kodak polycontrast RC N surface paper almost to the exclusion of fiber based papers because I could do anything with it. And then Kodak STOPPED producing this paper. FOREVER. Their website reads:

"Due to the ongoing transition to digital output technologies in both professional and educational markets, Kodak has announced manufacturing discontinuance of Black & White
Photographic Papers. Sales will cease by the end of 2005."

This was my great loss. I loved making good black and white prints. I printed thousands over decades and exhibited hundreds of them.
I loved making not-so-good prints on which I wrote or drew or painted. I still have a stack in my studio on which I can work, but when they are gone - and when I confirm that the boxes of paper in my refrigerator are grayed, I am done for. No more.
I began this post to say that I've been given an extra week of time that I did not expect. I may indeed have time to begin the great sorting of negatives and strew them all over the room in piles labelled with stickies.
After I finish all those tasks that will close out the 1002 Washington Avenue project.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Alexander McQueen At Met Until August 7

So that is it. The last day to see Savage Beauty is August 7 and I will miss it. For days now, I've been toying with changing my reservations for a second time in order to get to New York in time to see this exhibition at the Met that has drawn rave reviews and has twice extended its run. I meant to see Savage Beauty in June, when I was to fly to see my friend Jinny Avery.
But June turned into the installation month for artwork for the Houston Permitting Center. So I postponed my trip to see Jinny until August 11. And then learned that I'd miss Savage Beauty by several days. I could pay another fee for changing tickets dates and plunge ahead. Or I could be sensible.
But what is sensible about missing such a terrific show when I do have the option of making a reservation change? And I could buy my ticket to the show on-line. I'm thinking about it. I think I'll make a call to Jinny in the morning.
Or I could simply download the VOGUE iPad app and see what I'm missing? I don't have an iPad.
Or I could watch the videos on the Met's website?
So, what's next?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Update on Artful Interventions

It's been two weeks since I posted on Artful Interventions 1002 Washington Avenue. But today, I got back in the groove. Here's the link: Why No Posts For Two Weeks?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Like Minds

Lovely to discover another blogger who cares about the stuff I do. Received a comment from Cindy @ Cindy's Coffeehouse Blog, liked what she had to say about my post 'Scrub That Counter Or Weep'. Then I logged on to her blog and read her most recent post which a worried commentary on a story in a 1969 LIFE magazine. Apparently the wealthiest in our nation have been getting incredible tax breaks for at least four+ decades. We can't seem to put a stop to it and certainly the current Congress has already given away the store.
I perused Cindy's Blog Roll and surmise she probably eats gluten free. I am making efforts in that direction. I see she's written a book called "It's Not Personal" with a focus on the sandwich generation and how to care for a needy elderly parent. OK, another common interest.
So, I guess I need to follow writer's blog. And thanks to Sharon, that blogger in Maine, who drew us together.
And I will confess right now, I tend to lose followers because I write and write and forget to engage in back and forth conversation with my readers. I put it down to my very busy days. But it might just behoove me to stretch a little and see what's happening to fellow bloggers who log on to Rockbridge Times. You think?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Scrub That Counter Or Weep


They are gone, all three of them in tight coach seats, heading into the western sunset toward Seattle. My eldest daughter Caroline, her Charlie Bean and Lulu and I spent our last hot, sweaty day fraught with drama and sibling rivalry. Caroline and I shared intermittent and ever brief adult exchanges that I know the children see as interruptions to their running conversations with their mom that consist of entreaties for acknowledgment of every activity they undertake, each thought that runs through their head and each sight they see from the car window. Is it a mom's 'Yes, I see,' that makes these moments real? Has it always been thus with young children?
After two weeks, my ears ache from the pitch of their screams, my mind is frazzled from their demands for 'more' and the capricious 'no' they give as first response, even to things they want. I had three meltdowns in two weeks, going to bed at suppertime and awakening twelve hours later with renewed spirit. I know Caroline is exhausted all the time. She answers each and every entreaty and she sleeps with them and their dreams and sweatiness. Never even an uninterrupted slumber for her.
How does one both go nuts and feel great love at the very same time? When Charlie smiles and exults over an ordinary task well done, I am engulfed with tenderness and tears. When Lulu paints her face with a half dozen colors and smiles with accomplishment, I am, again, overcome.
I returned from the airport and immediately set about clearing my kitchen counter tops of cereal boxes and stickiness. I scrubbed food stains around the burners on the stove. What was this spate of cleaning? Well, I wanted to regain order and I also wanted to keep from crying. That's what I know. They are gone.
I told Caroline on the way to the airport that, not only was I going to get my car washed and vacuumed, but I will get it detailed. Totally. My car looks as if we'd been living in it for two weeks. And we have.
Earl wanted to know where the ice cream was in the freezer and I pulled out both drawers, found the ice cream and then began to toss out frozen foods with freezer burn, frozen food that I decided I'd never thaw and eat. Out with it all. I filled a trash bag.
What is it about cleaning and clearing that lessens the pain of leave taking? I remember hearing grandmothers and great aunts say that they set about scrubbing floors after folks died or left. Focus on cleaning and clearing and the sadness of separation works itself out.
And now, by the way, I am missing my second daughter Jeanne and her Kelan and Lauren. I am a wreak. What is it about these little children and their moms?


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Mario Wii Protocol

"Am I cool? Am I cool?" I hear Charlie upstairs playing with Earl's grandson Tavo.
"Look out."
"Jump."
"Watch out, watch out."
"Oh, now I see. I never even tried that." Charlie is loving this. Tavo is loving this. These are two little boys engrossed in Mario Smash Brothers Brawl.
Earl and I left the house at 11:00 to take Charlie on this special rendezvous. Caroline pulled me aside in the driveway as we were leaving to say, "Charlie asked me about bringing a Wii game to Tavo's. In Seattle, when the boys have play dates, the guest takes a Wii game as a present."
Like we take flowers or a bottle of wine to a supper party? So, we asked Charlie. Did he want to stop at McDonald's on Woodridge or CVS on Griggs to get a game to share? What would he choose to do? He decided not to take the requisite Seattle gift. Turns out it is not protocol in Clear Lake.
They've been at it for over an hour, totally engrossed. Let the games continue.
Tavo was beaming when we arrived and the two boys raced up the stairs to begin the games.
Happy day.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Great Paper Fan Fight


Mid-day yesterday, after a short relatively unsuccessful 30 minutes at the HEB water park on Dunlavy, followed by lunch at Le Madeleine in Rice Village, Caroline and I drove with the children to Whole Foods. She wanted to buy a supply of Greek yogurt and organic granola.
The children were hot and even with full stomachs, they were in no mood for another stop or errand of any kind, so I said I'd keep the car running and stay with them while she ran into the store.
"We will just drive around," I told her. And so we did. First we drove around the parking lot and then we drove around the block and then we drove as far as Greenbriar before circling back.
Lulu was perhaps the instigator of the great paper fan duel that took place in the back seat. I am sure that Charlie was immersed with a game on his mom's 'big phone' (iPad).
Suddenly, there were screams and shouts from the back seat. The car air conditioning was on high, yet it did nothing to block the outpouring that truly began to hurt my ears.
Neither child called for my help. They were fully engaged with one another, batting and slicing paper fans from Second Seating and from my Greater East End District retirement party. I'd say both fans were very sturdy weapons. The glue held the wooden stick to its circle of card stock, The card stock did not tear.
My focus on driving made it impossible for me to witness what went on, but there were cries of 'Stop it, Stop it, STOP it, STOP IT' from both sides of the car. And there was not one entreaty to me to stand in judgment.
In fact, Charlie produced running commentary on the contest. He'd say, "Lulu, you didn't mean that one, did you?' He knew absolutely when she was baiting him and when she was beating the fan in earnest. If the siblings had used swords, there would have been blood. Slashes galore.
After fifteen minutes of driving to the sounds of shouting and fan brandishing, I drove back to Whole Foods and found a parking space.
The battle continued, while I read a portion of the Wall Street Journal that I appropriated earlier at Le Madeleine. I got myself revved reading an op-ed piece by Karl Rove blaming Obama for the whole deficit mess. Imagine that. And some folks will believe it.
The great fan fight continued. We three were all mad. Suddenly, Caroline opened the passenger door with a Whole Foods bag in hand, her mission accomplished.
For a brief moment, I thought the fan fight was over, but the energy level was too high. The fans slashed the air, chopped on shoulders. The only difference during this round? The shouts and cries of 'Stop it' were punctuated with cries for 'Mom.' We carried on.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Now and Then


When my three daughters were little, we used to go to South Padre Island to spend time on the beach. At sunset time, they knew that I'd be photographing them in that warm golden light. Well, at 7:30 this evening, I photographed Lulu Bell in her pink tutu and remembered those long ago days in South Padre.
Sending much love to all my girls, in both generations.

Atlantic Coquinas: Seeing In a New Way

Earlier this morning I walked eastward on the beach, into the morning sun. Alone. I left the house where Charlie was absorbed on his mom's 'big phone' (iPad) and Lulu and Caroline were still in bed. I love walking barefoot on hard wet sand with water rushing over my feet. A steady breeze, a big sky. A good beginning to the day. After twenty minutes of steady walking, I turned back and, with the sun behind me, I began to notice what had been obscured by the sun's brightness.
I became conscious of the tiny bi-valves burrowing into wet sand and in an instant, making what look like tiny volcanos, spewing water and sand.
I noticed a gull planted firmly on a stretch of wet sand about twenty yards from me, unmoving. Was the gull waiting to snack on these creatures when they surfaced? Did they sense my footsteps?
Back at the beach house, I found the name of these small bi-valves with two clicks of a mouse: Atlantic Cocquinas or Donax variabilis.

On Scienceray I read, "They [Atlantic Cocquinas] move up and down the beach with the movement of the tide. The water gives them a lift, first up the beach and then back down. When they fine the spot they are looking for, they quickly bury themselves in the sand.

Coquinas like to hang out with each other. Where you find one, you can find many others forming colonies of clams. They align themselves vertically in the sand, which means they can pack themselves into the sand quite nicely."

And from the Shell Museum.org I learned the following:

"In order to remain in their terrain near the surf line where the sand is always wet, the coquinas move up and down the beach as the tide goes in and out. They accomplish this by monitoring the vibration of waves on the sand. When the tide is coming in they emerge from the sand and hitch a ride to shore, digging in to prevent being washed back out to sea. If they end up too far from the water, they sense that the sand is dry and hop back on the next wave to allow themselves to be pulled further out to sea.

If uprooted, they use their foot to quickly burrow back below the surface of the sand.
"Children are fascinated by the speed at which these little creatures move in order to bury themselves in the sand. They seem to mimic a gymnast, standing on their head, using their large foot to wiggle and wriggle into the sand with lightning speed. This has been coined the 'dance of the coquinas'."

Now this information is all well and good, But what I really learned this morning as I stood quietly and watched the movement of the Atlantic Coquinas is that enormous and constant movement takes place as these tiny bi-valves surface and then burrow back into the sand, leaving an explosion of geyser of water and sand and then a simple round hole. Several waves later, they may or may not emerge and the process repeats itself. Imagine the continuous movement of sand as the Atlantic Coquinas dive deep, displacing minute patches of beach.
I began to notice that as I approached clusters of these tiny be-valves that they quickly dove beneath the sand. could they sense the vibrations of my footsteps? Perhaps. I began to think about the impact that we have on even the tiniest of creatures. I stood absolutely still, like the gull who was motionless on the sand, waiting for the return of the Atlantic Coquinas.

Monday, July 11, 2011

One More Beach Photo

I did not take this photo. It's that daughter with the iPhone who's the photographer. Digital photography is taking us all to places we've never been before. I am becoming compulsive about taking pictures. I always was, but not in the same way. Film and digital are so different. Every move of this generation of children is photographed. Repeatedly.

There Is Life Other Than the Beach:


Lisa Gray's story on the new Houston Permitting Center was published yesterday in Sunday's Houston Chronicle. Lorraine Wulfe sent me an email late Sunday afternoon telling me she wants a tour. That was the first I'd heard about the story being published. Charlie and I quickly drove to the nearest Chevron station and bought the newspaper, plus a popsicle treat for him.
Lisa wrote a good piece and she really 'gets' this facility. I sent an email on to all the artists who created work for this building. Kudos to all of them. I've really loved this year-long project. The story went on-line today.

Just A Few More Words and Pictures


Here we are throwing day old bread scraps to the gulls. Reminded me of when the girls were little and we fed gulls on South Padre island. We fed them for so long that they began to poop all over us. You have to know the right moment to stop throwing those pieces of bread and broken crackers and depart the scene.My daughter is constantly connected. And her iPhone never gets wet or even sandy. How is this?
Becky and Graham throwing a Frisbee. Becky and her husband travelled the world playing this game professionally. Way back when. Here's Becky overseeing Malcom in the baby pool.
Another pool in this place is called the Lazy River. And the same Becky and Malcom took in this pool too. By the way, big brother Graham made 40 laps around the Lazy River. Without a tube.
Here's the great science experiment that was performed on the beach last evening. Another of Caroline's entertainments. Take a liter of Diet Coke, add as many Mentos as possible and stand back for a geyser. We had three liters so we had three opportunities to scatter or be covered with sticky Diet Coke. Although, Caroline says that Diet Coke is less sticky than regular Coke. Well, that's good news.
Here is the voice of this blog.

P.S. One last mention that has nothing to do with beach or pools. How many children eat cherries like this? Kind of like those squirrels and birds that take one bite out of a fig or a kumquat and drop the remainder to the ground. Would you say? I finished each of these cherries off myself.