Monday, August 25, 2014
All I see in the world today is a dance. But it is an ugly contortion. No swans, no hoe-downs, no cha chas. It is only a mashup of movement intended to cause hurt and pain. Posturing for power is often intricate and choreographed, but almost always cruel.
The last time I wrote on this blog was to reminisce about Neil Armstrong landing on the moon. The careful dance those astronauts had coming down their ladder led to a happy dance on the moon, a great, big, bouncy dance of excitement.
Today I write to lament the state of the world. I am sitting here with my fluffy trio of little white dogs, who are content to just sit with their human mom. I could be content to just soak in their laziness and reside only with their thoughts, which are of breakfast, treats, walks, dinner and hopefully more treats.
But I feel the overwhelming desire to vent.
Vent about death in our streets.
Vent about the physical and economic waste laid by the growing industry of wars around the world.
Vent about how people can't practice their lives and keep to themselves about it.
Vent about how opportunity to act viciously breeds the decision to do so, indeed it ceases all common sense and induces people to BE violence in its purest form.
There is a need for calm. But there is a wave moving around the world, a dark wave that celebrates a lust for power. It is an unbalanced dance so volatile it oversteps its bounds.
I want nothing more than to sit here and not be scared, to skip a step or two with the dogs on a walk. How is that possible when so many toes are being stepped on? I am lucky to be where I am. And for today, that's really all I can say.
Shall we dance? Yes, because there is no other choice. Only the tune is to be decided. Imagine a good one.
Sunday, August 26, 2012
In case you do not recall, July 20, 1969, was a Sunday.
This is an important fact in my personal history. On Sundays, my family attended TWO church services, one elaborate show in the morning, and one more casual gathering in the evening, when less uptight dress prevailed and the sermons were not quite so imposing. I liked the music as played by Rosie the pianist, who was Rosie the organist in the morning. In the morning, the service was held in the big worship hall with carpets of blue, soaring heights and a choir pen. In the evening, we reverted to the church's original worship area. Folding chairs instead of pews allowed for great flexibility, and we were the choir as we sang the hymns. You could help set a tone by REQUESTING a hymn. A long, permanent partition served as backdrop for the main action. Behind this floor-to-ceiling curved wall were assorted floral arrangements and all manner of stored items, a constant delight to explore as the service cleanup took place. It was the hall we used for wedding receptions and summer Bible school gatherings. A rec room for wholesome activities.
In my most youthful youth, had I had a driver's license and been tall enough to see over the wheel, I would have been prone to skip both services and find all sorts of distractions in parks, zoos and diners. I didn't care for the preacher and I didn't care for the cliques and the fake goody two shoes. I figured once you had learned the Golden Rule, and further learned that few were obliged to follow it, you had learned enough. There was so much REPETITION, all involving guilt for things you hadn't even contemplated. There were many Sundays when I faked a stomach ache to be able to watch Shirley Temple Theater instead of listening to yet another droning sermon from someone who obviously thought he knew everything and used a pulpit to prove it. Of course, on the Sundays when I traded a "nap" on the couch for not going to church, I always promised no TV would be watched. I was sick, after all. Rest would make me better.
My punishment for watching the films was that I almost never got to see the end of the movies because to "keep" my cover story, I would have to run and turn the TV off before my parents made it out of the car and into the house -- a short walk indeed. If they ever tested the TV for heat, they never said anything. I had Shirley's scripts memorized anyway. It was the drama of the raging storms, lost parents/orphans/etc. and the dance numbers I wanted to see. Those were usually all over the by end, so not getting to see the final scenes never deterred me from wanting to see the films again. In this repetition, I found creative license and a lifelong love of movies and acting.
The week building up to July 20, 1969, brought a different obsession to me and the whole world. All anyone could talk about was the moon and the fact that three brave astronauts were rocketing their way toward it. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were going to actually land and walk on the moon -- on live TV. On Sunday night. During our church-service time. It did not cross my mind that evening church would be on our itinerary that week.
"We're going to church," my father declared. In the face of an event this large, I couldn't believe my 12-year-old ears. This was not something I would have thought my father, a World War II veteran, would have EVER wanted to miss. It was an American accomplishment. It was a breakthrough. It was all anyone could talk about. It was NEW and SHINY and it was going to be ON TV. "We're going to church," he said.
Although I don't remember my counter arguments, I'm sure they included truths such as: "It's the biggest thing ever." "It's only ONE church meeting, and it's at NIGHT, not morning church." "We've already been ONCE today, why on earth do we have to go again tonight?" "I want to see this." "Everyone else will see it." "You just watch, no one is going to go to church tonight."
It's rather easy to remember what my father said, because it was basically the same line, used over and over.
"We're going to church."
Personally, I don't know how he stood to drive to church with someone in the back seat silently pouting with such a loud attitude. Since I was used to skipping church for Shirley Temple in my younger years, this end-of-childhood life lesson was going to backfire on him, I was sure of it. We, and by we I mean me, were missing the biggest event in the history of mankind, and it was all his fault. Since I was a child, I was low person in the authority lineup. So I sulked.
As I recall, we arrived somewhat early to church, but maybe I think that because when we did arrive, there were few people and Pastor was in a state of frenetic setup activity. At the front of the old worship hall was a television set on a stand. Pastor was rushing to and fro, connecting wires, testing signals, all the while lost in preparation, holding his breath as if he stood on a precipice. He tried to look and greet his flock as members of it arrived, but he was in a RUSH. Possibly you will understand when I say he was working with the self-righteous fervor of a man writing a breaking front-page story whilst a union press crew waits, having halted the run when big-news struck.
For all I found at fault with Pastor, he was not unlike me. Pastor liked drama and magic. He was friends with Andre Kole, aka Bob Gurtler, whose kids I went to school with and whose brother went to our church. (Bob is a world-famous magician; you can look this up on the Internet now; in those days, I just had to wait for him to visit our church to know when he was home from touring or when Phoenix was his stop). Pastor liked to be in the know with BIG events. He was not a man who was never tempted by bright, shiny objects. Trying to keep his pastoral demeanor, he explained that in the light of the EXTRAORDINARY nature of tonight's moon landing, he thought it would be okay to depart from normal activities. We had shown good faith by coming, and we should get to watch together as a congregation.
Translation: Pastor didn't want to go to church that night, either.
He came up with some well-worded reasons why this would not be sinful. While trying to contain a grin while wiggling in my seat, I sneaked a smile at my father. He did not know what to say. Pastor had just upended his life lesson in the biggest possible way.
And so, Pastor rushing to wrap up his excuses BEFORE we (and by we I mean he) missed anything, we settled down to watch Neil Armstrong step onto the moon. I sat, torn between two authority figures, quietly thrilled beyond any belief.
The steps Neil Armstrong took remain indelibly etched into my mind. Watching him manipulate those huge boots down a very small ladder, seeing the effect of low gravity, watching him STEP on the lunar surface. On LIVE television. He was followed by Buzz Aldrin. There were words, beautiful words. But what I remember was the first glimpse of his boots. The anticipation felt and fulfilled by a world, a country, a space program and every child in the world. It is a time I will never forget.
Sometimes, when you wish upon a star, you find you really wished upon the man in the moon. Or one who wanted to soar with the astronauts.
Pastor didn't want to go to church the night of July 20, 1969, but, like my father, he was bound by a tradition. So, just like the fictional Captain Kirk did when he needed to pass a critical test in Star Fleet Academy, Pastor changed the rules. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong was our pastor, and he delivered a message that science, God, beauty and magic can live side by side.
Our Pastor died several years ago during open-heart surgery. Perhaps tonight he got to meet one of his earthly heroes, who passed under similar circumstances. I can imagine the thrill Pastor feels and that he is discussing how Neil helped change so much history, even the course of a certain church service on July 20, 1969.
Thank you, Neil, for everything you did. And thank you, Pastor, for sharing a love of bright, shiny objects that hang in the universe.
P.S. My father's reaction? We never spoke of it again. We both got what each of us wanted.
Monday, May 28, 2012
Monday, May 9, 2011
But before I even stepped foot on the asphalt of this collectibles wonderland, I spied a file card on a small square of ground outside the establishment's fence. Could it be that a recipe card had survived the fray that happens at the close of each week's auction? People toss stuff out from their bounty, eager to grab their treasure and to forget the rest. In their haste to rush home to list findings on Craig's List or ebay, things fall, blow, and otherwise make their way to the next life via dumpsters and the elements.
In short order I was close enough to see that the little card was NOT blank, and it beckoned me with the word "brownies." I looked the card over from a speculative height. No creases, no stains, and, remarkably, no weather damage. A small smudge at the top looked pretty innocent. It was if it had been dropped there just for me, a mid-century set of instructions for succulent dessert: Apple Orange Brownies.
I bent and picked it up, still wondering about its weeklong and other travels. Then I decided with the speed of an experienced bidder not to let it get away. It was a treasure. To preserve it, I stuffed it among papers in my purse and walked like a satisfied winner to claim my bid card for the day's activities behind the fence.
The dear lady who wrote the recipe out did not sign her name or give a source, just left behind a most tempting set of ingredients and easy directions. She might have been writing it out for her own daughter or a niece. It is written in the mid-century style of my mother, my aunts, and yes, even me who learned to love the craft that once went along with everything we did. Things like handwriting out a recipe in pencil on a single file card, both sides filled to capacity with everything you need to know. It it's not there, you should have been paying more attention in the kitchen when it was cooked in front of you, after all.
So, from me to you, here is a treasured Mother's Day find, delivered in the most modern of ways via my blog, but with the grace and good taste of a 1950s mom.
Apple Orange Brownies
2/3 cup margarine
2 cups brown sugar
1 - 8 oz. can (1 cup) applesauce
1 tbsp grated orange peel
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups sifted flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp baking soda
Melt butter or margarine, remove from heat.
Add brown sugar, stir till blended, cool.
Beat in applesauce, eggs, orange peel and vanilla.
Sift flour, baking powder, salt and soda.
Stir into applesauce mixture.
Stir in nuts.
Spread in greased 15 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 1 inch baking pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.
Makes 48 brownies
Of course, you know she means Farenheit. What you don't know is that along with the recipe, the red scale with all the weights, the green cake plate and a perfect set of White Rotary sewing machine attachments in a black tin came home with me, too. Not so cheap, but I had already won the best thing at the auction before I even walked in: a good story.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Further congratulations to Terry Jarrard-Dimond, whose work Corner Office was selected as the image for this year's promotional postcard.
It's been exciting to jury these pieces into BOTH venues this year. The final determination of where each piece will be installed is not yet available.
Art Quilts XV: Needleplay
Fran Cowen Adler
For the Grandmothers
Cloth Mother Wire Mother; Twin Dreams
Mojito; Rejected Redeemed
Structures 97; Structures 99
Units 9; Units 14
Tunnel Vision; Target
Hot, Hot, Hot
Sunset Composition; Scorched Earth
Denise A. Currier
Midsection; Rhythm Incline
Jacob’s Coat; Jet Trails
Art Feeds Your Dreams
Jerusalem Shadows; Kati
Fire, Trees and Water; One in Nine
Black Oil Blue Day; Tattoo Bird
A. Carole Grant
Playing With Colors
Thinking Outside the Box III
Blush Tri-4; Witley Decay
In the Park
Corner Office; Joy and Sorrow; She Came Undone
Texting in the Food Court; Maury with Julia in the Kitchen; Akai
Date Night Drive In; Rehearsal
Ravens 3; Leaves
Serpent of the Grove
Buffalo; Gunfight; Defending
Writing on the Wall
Jill Le Croisette
Born an Angel; On Earth a Bud
Random Thoughts; Random Ascent
Watch Me Go
Diane G. Nunez
Martha (Marti) Plager
Pages 1; Pages 2; Pages 5
Forgiveness; Losses 2
Seeing Through the Fog; Capturing Moments
Watt & Shand #7; Watt & Shand #10
Susanne M. Riggio
Five Star Sudoku
One Last Look
Venetian Lace 1; Venetian Lace 2
Red House; Echo
On the Road: Road Rage; On the Road: High Water
Linda Syverson Guild
Groucho; Carmen Miranda
Marilyn H. Wall
Carol Ann Waugh
Julie Zaccone Stiller
Woven Rainbow; Three Strikes
Vivien J. Zepf
Blackberries and Dandelions