Friday, November 27, 2009

Sarah Palin, They Love You But Can't Say Exactly Why

Click on this link for a sampling of Americans who talk about why they like Sarah Palin. They've been standing in line at Border's to buy her new book "Going Rogue." Surely the celebrity factor is at work here, but there's more to it than that. For me, the video is a demonstration that opinions, very strong opinions, can be molded with very few facts. A handful of terrific sound bites that 'speak' to folk's fears and dreams and hey, you've got them.

Facts? Who needs them? Folks in line at Border's to see Sarah Palin don't need to know how she'll interact with kings and prime ministers, Congress, corporate CEOs. They don't need to know something about environmental and social welfare policy, nor do they need to have a sense of history as in 'what came before yesterday'. No, they sure don't.
The folks in line at Border's who said they like Sarah tell the interviewer that she sticks up for America and she against taxes and spending, but they cannot say exactly what she would do as our president or how she would respond to national issues and opportunities.

Again and again, they answer the interviewer's questions with a lot of, "I don't really know specifics, but I hear..." and "I'm not really sure" when asked what they think Sarah would do. One man says he hears on FOX News and in church groups he attends that our freedoms are being taken away. Exactly how these freedoms are dissolving, they never explain. What's clear is that these folks passionately believe in America, in liberty and few if any taxes. They don't seem at all acquainted with the concept of citizenship, with its rights, privileges and shared responsibilities. When did civics class get snuffed from school curriculums? Decades ago.

Back to history. Wasn't it Eisenhower, a Republican president, who brought the interstate highway system into being in the 1950s? Who built bridges and dams in this great land? Federal or state, highways and bridges take money for upkeep and we seem to have forgotten about that. Ah, infrastructure. Who deals with bridge maintenance so when we're crossing great waterways or canyons, steel beams don't buckle and send us into the abyss? Does it cross any one's mind that our great grandparents used to look down on Irish immigrants as folks from another planet? (That insight would be garnered from our shared history, if we were aware of it.) Do we not see a parallel between those earlier fears and hate and our current fears of being overrun by new brown immigrants, illegals from the rest of our hemisphere? Hey, most of those coming to the U.S. are fairly bright young folks. Educate them and they'll work hard, pay their dues and support Medicare and Social Security for us. Does this ever cross our minds?

Please listen to the folks being interviewed outside of Border's and remind yourself to prepare thoughtful answers (in case you need them) to simple questions like, "If Sarah Palin were president, what policies of hers would you support? With what issues of hers are you in agreement?"
I didn't hear one person who answered that question. Instead, when asked about issues and policies, they spoke about what Sarah Palin stands for. Freedom, our liberties, the right to speak. That stuff sounds like the Bill of Rights to me and it's been around a long time.
When asked again about issues of the day, one woman said to her friends, "Hey, help me out here, guys" and another said, "I can't think of any policies right off the bat' and "I never thought about it" and a lot of "I'm not really sure."
But one thing is for sure. Folks sure do like Sarah Palin and they have faith that she'll turn things around for them. That's quite enough.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Dinner 2009

Most Thanksgivings of late, I've been in Portland OR with Mary B and Queta, spending a day or two out on the Oregon coast walking the beaches. This year with Second Seating followed by Chris and Heather's wedding near Oakland, CA, I opted to stay in Houston for the holiday and so returned to the traditional dinner at my brother John's where there were 15 extended family and friends at two big tables. Enjoyed every minute of it. The food was wonderful and plentiful and I brought enough home for a day or two of more feasting.
Wish I'd also spent the day in Portland. And how about the day in Seattle as well? Family, family, so spread out. Love to all. And love this photo of most of us at Second Seating taken by Laurie Perez.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Golden Winter Sun Lights My Day


Early this morning I headed for Second Seating to take collages from the walls and load the car with whatever boxes were packed, all before a 10:00 a.m. appointment. Returned to the space by noon for more packing. All day, that golden low light of early winter cast a glow over everything I did and saw.
I feel such nostalgia for the place, for the metaphors, the intentions fulfilled, the very 'stuff' that cascaded over the banquet table. It is all so familiar. And yet, I am happy to be de-assembling it. It is time.
By mid afternoon, I was taking Mercedes' paintings from the wall, rolling the big ones up and putting all of them in the car.
The smaller paintings were draped over a box in the front passenger seat and as I drove along Harrisburg, that afternoon light hit the little quincinera dolls and glass shoes that Mercedes sewed along the borders of the paintings.
I began to photograph the dolls each time I stopped for a red light and continued to photograph them as I walked through the garden toward the house with outstretched arm.
The garden itself is overwhelmed with cosmos, some as high as ten feet. Lantana and old fashioned roses are blooming. There are honey bees feasting on the flowers. It is heaven.
All of a sudden, the photographs I was taking seemed to speak about the day itself and the feelings that suffused each passing moment. Here are a few of the images.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I Can Feel It

Gwen Bell is a person whose name keeps popping up. I first met Gwen Bell at BlogHer in 2008 in San Francisco. She appeared to me as an incredible virtual multi-tasker and I followed her blog and tweets until I dropped into that space where the focus was only on Second Seating. I considerit a fine example of synchronicity that Gretchen Rubin interviewed Gwen Bell for The Happiness Project and that I just happened to read that interview minutes ago.
Because in the last several days, I can feel myself seeing ahead to the next and the next endeavors, meaning 'What happens after Second Seating?' Well, a lot. We are happy when we do what we are meant to do. Gwen Bell does what she's meant to do and I did what I was meant to do with Second Seating.
I know that Second Seating was a warm up exercise. Yesterday, I shared an impromptu cup of tea with a friend and we talked about how she felt when I spoke at an evening gathering in the Second Seating space. Her response prompted my mind to take immediate leaps here, there and everywhere. Another friend reminded me about an offer I'd received ten days ago for help in writing a grant for an incredible new project. So, suddenly in the last 24 hours, I am truly engaged in what 'comes after Second Seating' and I am remembering that in the very first concept papers, Second Seating was a step on the way to many other endeavors.
Sometime in the middle of last night, I had a flash forward vision of myself as a woman in her 70s creating and managing a new business that involves making spaces that perhaps, for a moment or forever, change the people who enter them. Because in these spaces, they 'see' differently or feel an unnameable emotion or are overcome by words painted on a wall or a flock of flying chairs or an urban garden as gathering space.
There is so much more to come. Therefore, I need to eat vegetables by the truck load, walk miles every day and do a little house cleaning before it all begins again.
And wasn't it nice to hear about Gwen Bell this morning and know that it is time for me to read her book The Unconventional Guide to the Social Web amid all the other things that are gathering on the 'to do' list.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Yes, I Attended Last Weekend's Wedding

A very few have asked if I was at the wedding because they didn't see any photos of me. True, I am usually behind the camera lens. So here's a photo of the three of us siblings. John is flanked by his older and younger sisters. His 'older' would be me.
And below is a very short unintentional video that was made when I was really trying to take a simple still photograph of the fabulous felted roses given to me by two wonderful women friends when Second Seating opened. The wedding was the first time I wore this rope of roses that could double as a jump rope. Just so you know, I tried it out as a jump rope in the hotel room and yes, it's long enough and the most beautiful jump rope I ever used. So, here's the video and it ends up going right down the bathtub drain. So much for film making.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Just a few more wedding photos

This morning I wrote an entire post in the Oakland Airport, sort of sizing up the weekend and thinking about this family gathering. But it didn't save and it's gone. I've never lost a whole post before. Not the end of the world, of course, but it was a nice conclusion to this wedding weekend. So instead of a wordy post, here are some more photos. Things and people I noticed at this wedding. Here's this incredible car that was parked outside the church. Was Chris to drive Heather to the reception in this or have someone drive them? Car is fabulous. Maybe it belongs to a wedding guest? We told the grandchildren not to touch it, no fingerprints, no.
Here are some shoes and legs I kind of liked. And this photo of the bridesmaid table and Charlie Bean who affixed himself to that table. And finally a photo of the 'throwing of the bridal bouquet.'
I'd like to upload more photos, but the system has suddenly developed issues so that's it for now.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

One Lovely Wedding

Here's the link to wedding photos. Special thanks to all of the four parents who made a beautiful wedding for two very special people. Heather and Chris, my very best wishes to you both.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Two Different Worlds


Morning before the wedding? We're all in this hotel together. But in two different worlds, depending on whether you're tending kids five and under or are a member of the wedding party. Mary and I were up on 6:00 and downstairs for the buffet breakfast. The number of folks at the table grew and finally, it was pool time for the grandkids. There are four pools here. All of them different. One for serious laps, one for hanging out, one's a wader and then there's a hot tub.
So, this morning under a brilliant blue sky , the girls and I spent time in two of the four pools and the kids were in the water for almost three hours.
In the midst of all the splashing, I took a break and found Kate, there in the hallway on her way into the 'bride and bridesmaid's laire.'
And what a different space it was. Filled with young women and two moms in stages of dress and undress, hair being upswept and blush and eye shadow making each woman radiant. All were readying themselves for the wedding.
Seriously different atmosphere from the one with sweet grandchildren splashing in the pool. Hey, it was good to be reminded that we're all here for a wedding.

All A Blur


The bride and groom were beaming as they entered the rehearsal dinner after, you guessed it, a thorough rehearsal at the church. Both wore new western shirts and boots and were applauded after my sister Kate very graciously welcomed all of us assembled in a party room that even had the Texas flag on the wall. Chris may call Seattle home, but it's clear there's a part of him that never left Texas.
The evening is a blur, filled with hugs, short conversations and those four grandchildren and grand niece Peyton who were overtaken with sugar fueled energy and the wonder of it all. Add in great fatigue (my fatigue) and photos taken without flash (my photos) and you get a sense of true sense of 'blurry'.

The kids are crazy about the hotel's long corridors. We are all bedded down on the fourth floor and our ramped up children run up and down the hallways ceaselessly. I would sprint back and forth on them too, if I were their ages. It's a veritable track. We have not yet prevailed upon them to run silently. They also took over the lobby before we all left for the party. High energy.

And Lauren was really into the ice chest and for a while, seemed to be carrying bits of ice everywhere.
So here are a few blurry photos of what was for me me a blurry evening and I wouldn't have missed a moment of it. Here's Kate with Brenda and her family - all the way from Florida.
The groom-to-be with Jeanne, Tanner and Peyton and below, here's Kate with Perry, a college friend from Cornell days. Their friendship goes back forever.
Here's Denny's older sister Kathy from Florida sharing photos with Caroline, who by the way, made her scarf from a thrift store sweater - lots of surging ability here.
It's lovely to be with all my family. There are two that aren't here with us and, yes, they are missed. Steve and Queta, we're thinking about you from time to time.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Wedding Weekend: Chapter One

The clans are assembling for this family wedding, flying in from many places. Houston, Portland and Seattle, of course, plus Florida, Massachusetts, California and South Dakota. Chris and Heather will be married tomorrow and it's a very big weekend for us all.
Continental doesn't fly into Oakland so I found myself on Delta, landing in Salt Lake City and changing planes. I was to meet Denny's sister Kathy in Salt Lake 'in the bar next to the gate.' Hadn't seen her in over thirty years, since the kids were little.
However, I never saw a bar, but then I don't look for bars in airports. So we didn't meet up until baggage claim where Denny and Kate picked her up for the ride from Oakland to Walnut Creek.
I took a shuttle to Hertz where Jeanne and Dan and kids had a car waiting to drive to this very nice Renaissance Hotel where we met John and Trish, Tanner, Greg, Carrie and Peyton and crowded around a big round table for grilled cheese sandwiches and Cobb salads. Have no idea what my brother and sister are discussing so intently, but there they are. Probably directions to the rehearsal dinner?

It's after 4:00 now and Caroline's just landed. Plane delayed and hopefully, she'll arrive with Charlie Bean and Lulu Bell before 6:00, but there's Friday afternoon traffic to deal with.

We'll have barbecue for the rehearsal dinner this evening. Chris wanted a touch of Texas, a bit of going back to his roots, and so it may be. I'll bet the groom's extended family will be comparing it to Houston's Goode Company barbecue and wanting it to be Texas 'good.'

I am eager to watch and participate in this gathering of the clans. There are always subplots and specific sensitivities that factor in, but we're smart folks. We'll make it a lovely time for this special bride and groom. So young, so very young and bright eyed. I'm looking forward to this wedding that has brought so much family together.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Touch of Melancholy

Did I write that title? What's going on? A touch of melancholy? That's what it feels like right now as I slow down, days after the close of Second Seating. I spent most of the afternoon reading a new issue of Vanity Fair in bed and then wandered into the kitchen for more peanut candy. Actually, several times I wandered into the kitchen to break off pieces of a 'Dickies' peanut pattie and slowly crunch away.
Several weeks ago, when my sister was visiting, she introduced me to this candy, which is made in Tyler, TX. She searched for it, telling me she ate 'Dickies' peanut patties when she was an intern at Hermann Hospital. Said they were a terrific combination of sugar and protein which kept her going. I've eaten a third of a six inch pattie and yes, it's very good. I can now recommend 'Dickies' peanut patties to friends. Not sure though, whether it kept me going this afternoon. I guess it may have kept me from sleeping?
Back to the title. A touch of melancholy? What did I expect when the pressure of keeping a visual arts exhibition up and running stopped? Actually, there is still a lot to do. Such as Art Crawl on November 21 - the very last time Second Seating will be open. And then there is the dismantling of the show. A huge job because things go to so many different places and spaces. And there are as many as 100 letters I want to write to folks and companies and organizations to thank them for their support, their contributions, their willingness to say 'yes' when I called for help. It's not over until it's over and yet, it feels different. All the rest of the work will take place in another gear, one that is a bit unfamiliar.
So, perhaps it's a good thing that I am flying off to Oakland early tomorrow morning for Chris and Heather's wedding. My sister's son and his bride are young, very young, just out of college, about the age I was when I married. My daughters all attached themselves to partners much closer to their 30th birthday than their 20th.
This wedding will be populated with the young. One of the lovely things about the weekend is that I'll see folks I haven't seen in decades, like Denny's two sisters. I'll see my three daughters again and all the four grandkids. Charlie Bean has a velveteen jacket that he loves and wanted to wear to school. The weather is fine.
But even with all these good things, I still feel a touch of melancholy. There is a glass of cold white wine by my keyboard. It's from a bottle of the same wine served at the opening of Second Seating and throughout the month of evening gatherings. I've taken a real liking to this wine called River Rock White from Oregon. Fruity, almost like a Reisling, but not quite.
I think the thing to do this evening is make a CD with photos of Aggie's son's wedding at Sisterdale. Just the act of editing all those photos will be this day's creative act and perhaps, this empty feeling will loosen its grip. I'll take another look at the stuff I've put in the suitcase and then call it a day.
It's dark now and almost 6:00 p.m. That sky of vibrant mauves and rose is gone. I hear dogs barking and far away, a train sounds its horn. The wine is good. This is what's going on right now.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dede Scozzafava, I'm Writing You a Letter

I've just learned that Dede Scozzafava lives in Gouverneur, N.Y. She's the moderate Republican who quit her race for an open seat in New York's 23rd Congressional District after the likes of Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck ratcheted up a vitriolic campaign against her lack of rightwing-nut orthodoxy. Scozzafava says she thought that the conservative movement's third-party candidate, Doug Hoffman, a newcomer accountant, 'had no integrity.' So, she threw whatever weight she had behind the Democratic candidate Bill Owens.
The upshot of the election is that this part of upper New York State has a Democratic representative for the first time in a century. I took note of that news. Because I know about that part of upstate New York.
Until this news about Dede Scozzafava, I hadn't thought about her home town of Gouverneur, N.Y. in a very long time. Gouverneur is a small town on the Oswegatchie River near the Canadian border. It's a town that, back in the 1950s, had a counter drug store where my grandmother and I always stopped for chocolate milkshakes, as it was the half way point between Watertown and Heuvelton. It was the town where my great Aunt Bessie was a school principal way back in the 1920s. It was a pretty town with a public square and it was surrounded by old fashioned family dairy farms.
Sixty years ago, when I was a little girl, we lived in Heuvelton, a neighboring town also on the banks of the Oswegatchie River. My great aunts and uncles and grandparents who lived on and worked the dairy farms are long gone. From time to time, I trek up from Texas to visit cousins and when I do, the very smell of the air and contours of the land are familiar, part of my earliest memories. And one thing I knew then and know now is that the counties in upstate New York are very Republican.
So, reading that Dede Scozzafava lives in Gouverneur takes me way back to my childhood in Heuvelton, that little town where my dad was a youngish school principal and where I was enrolled in first grade when I was just five years old because there was no kindergarten. During Dad's four year tenure, he received the school board's consent to centralize the school district. A big deal that involved busing in the kids who'd always learned to read and write in one room school houses spread throughout the township.
Both my mom and dad registered to vote in the Heuvelton township. The story of their registration has become a tale that we pass on among the extended family. It seems that the town clerk called mom to say she'd found a mistake in the registration records. Seems that mom's registration listed her as a Democrat. The town clerk said she'd be happy to change that for mom, knowing that it must be an error. She said 'she'd take care of it and no one would ever know the difference.'
Mom said no to the town clerk. Told her there was no mistake. Said she was a Democrat. It was then that my mom learned she was the lone Democrat in the township.
Sixty-two years later, when I hear that a moderate Republican is run out of a race in favor of a more conservative candidate, I think about those little towns where it didn't pay to be different. I knew even as a small child that I was not long for that part of the world, though we had family all over the countryside and good small universities. In just four years time, my dad spotted an ad in The New York Times for a principalship for Standard Oil, N. J. in Aruba. We left those little towns in upstate New York.
So, Dede Scozzafava of Gouverneur, N.Y., I'm writing you a letter. It'll say that a moderate Republican is just fine. Time was when I could vote for a Democrat or Republican and did. Remember Senator Charles Percy, Governor Nelson Rockefeller? In those days, one could cross party lines and truly believe that they were casting a vote 'for the best candidate.' Remember when even Republicans were frightened by Barry Goldwater? No more. Goldwater could end up in Glenn Beck's left field.
I will be following this Democrat Bill Owens to see what he manages to do. I hope he's up to whatever is thrown his way. I hope he's a good guy and has some common sense. Being a Democrat in upstate New York is hard and he's going to have to be better than expected to pass muster with anyone. Bill Owens, you are the first Democrat to hold office in a century. Do us proud. How's that news settling in along the Oswegatchie River where I used to ice skate on cold winter days?

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Blue Sky Sunday

You know what? So much of what makes a good day is attitude and a decent night's sleep. I was beside myself last night. Way overtired. Sick and tired of everything and looking for a day off and couldn't see one coming. But I got about seven hours solid sleep last night and have now gone about my day, which was certainly a busy one until about 30 minutes ago. (Actually, it's not over yet. I need to check in with my daughters about transportation details for Chris and Heather's wedding, the festivities of which will take place to the east of Oakland CA in just two week's time.)
At 9:00 this morning, my brother's first grandchild, Peyton Paige, was baptised at Palmer Church, along with about half a dozen other babies, toddlers and one young adult woman. Ceremony was lovely and Peyton wore a christening dress that her great grandfather Glenn wore well over ninety years ago. Glenn was there to witness it too.After church, we gathered at Tanner and Greg's house for brunch and many photos. Miss Peyton's christening dress was very, very long. Carrie made the dress shorter between photos with bundles of fabric held with rubber bands. It sort of worked. Except when Peyton kicked the bundles loose and found herself caught in a maze of eyelet.At 11:30, I was off for a noon appointment at the Apple store for one-on-one tutoring, which this time involved adding 1400 names from an Excel database. Sometime today, probably while driving on the freeway, I decided to treat learning about this new phone of mine like a kid would view piano lessons and daily piano practice. I need to spend time with it and go over the processes again and again just like scales. I treated my other phones badly and could never, ever really use them. Perhaps if I pretend this phone is a piano and commit to practice scales daily, eventually I'll cross some invisible threshold and lo and behold, the iphone will have become an integral part of my life.
After an hour at the Apple store, I met Andy Avery and his family at Second Seating. Blessedly, we don't have regular Sunday hours, but I have the key and it's fun to take special folks into the space.John arrived with Joanna, Peyton's other grandmother, just as the Avery's were leaving for a late lunch at Ninfa's. Joanna and I wandered Second Seating and then I was on my way to Ninfa's too for a visit and a margarita on the rocks with salt on the rim of the glass. That drink disappeared like lemonade.So, today is the first day when darkness falls before 6:00. Time changed so we're set for winter. I hear a train in the distance and dogs barking, but mostly it's quiet. After I've added photos to this post, I am going to crawl into bed and read the Sunday papers, both the NYT and the Houston Chronicle. I may even read Lisa Gray's wonderful story about Second Seating once again, just because.
Tomorrow and the whole of this week will be BIG and BUSY. Need a good night's sleep every night from now until...
Driving home from Ninfa's in that low bright golden autumn light, I actually thought 'What a good day.' Because it was. I'd also made a decision that everything I did today was fun to do. My dear friend Virginia Avery, that would be Andy Avery's mom, always says, 'Life is short, so live each day to the fullest.' Or words to that effect. I think that means 'Live conscious, live in the present. And make a decision that life is good.'
I would add that having that decent night's sleep and some good strong tea certainly makes for a lovely day too.

Second Seating Makes Houston Chronicle

What a difference a good night's sleep makes. Up and ready to face the day. More blue skies and I think the time changed last night. "Spring ahead, fall back," is the expression for this semi-annual event. So what time it is right now? I am remembering I need to be a Palmer Church at 9:00 for Peyton's christening.
And to top this bright blue day off? Lisa Gray's story on Second Seating is in today's Houston Chronicle. Thank you, Lisa Gray.