Sunday, August 26, 2012

Wishing upon the man in the moon

Neil Armstrong died Saturday at age 82 of complications from heart surgery. He accomplished much in his life, but will be forever remembered for being the first man to step on the moon on July 20, 1969, an event witnessed by one-fifth of the world's population on live television.

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

Rebirth

Rebirth. At some point in every life, reinvention is required. For the past year, I have been trying to come up with an idea that would make me completely new, completely free. A year later, I find I am still me, but with more knowledge than I could have ever expected to gain. Some welcome, some devastating. All coming together to make me more sure of who I am. So, today I announce a new venture: Rebirth, an online fiber-art exhibition that will test the limits of how people view this art form. It will start out slowly here on the blog. How will it grow? First to a webpage and then to digital and print catalogs. More details will be forthcoming in July 2012. Please let me know what you think will be great themes or topics. It will not be limited to art quilts, although that will surely be one of its starting points. Come explore new territory with me. Diane

Monday, May 9, 2011

Street Walking for Brownies

Yesterday I went to an auction in Sun City, a perfect Mother's Day activity if you are in the mood to look for a green depression glass cake plate on the (hopefully) cheap. There's always treasure found amongst the box lots, whether it be Coca-Cola glasses from a past promotion or a red store scale with a candy scoop and ALL of its weights.

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
2 eggs
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

A glimpse into the AQXV exhibtion


Hello All,
I want to show off Terry Jarrard-Dimond's work, Corner Office, which was selected as the image for the AQXV promotional postcard. Enjoy! The post below this lists the selected artists.

Diane Howell

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Art Quilts XV: Needleplay Selected Artists Announced

Congratulations to all of the artists selected for Art Quilts XV: Needleplay, which will be installed at the Chandler Center for the Arts and Vision Gallery. This year 95 works were chosen from artists living in the United States and Canada. Following are the artists' names and abbreviated titles of the selected works. This list is being posted so everyone will know what to prepare for shipping and what is available for other shows; it should not be construed as the first draft for wall tags or other promotional uses. The gallery will send more information to accepted artists regarding shipping and key deadlines.

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
Selected Artists


Fran Cowen Adler
Circle; Semblance

Barbara Hall
For the Grandmothers

Sandra Branjord
Poem Fish

Shelley Baird
Cloth Mother Wire Mother; Twin Dreams

Adriene Buffington
Mojito; Rejected Redeemed

Betty Busby
Flow; Fungia

Lisa Call
Structures 97; Structures 99

Benedicte Caneill
Units 9; Units 14

Erika Carter
Orchid

Deanna Charlton
Self Portrait

Lisa Chipetine
Tunnel Vision; Target

Susanne Clawson
Hot, Hot, Hot

Gerrie Congdon
Sunset Composition; Scorched Earth

Denise A. Currier
Midsection; Rhythm Incline

Jennifer Day
Elegant Edibles

Marcia DeCamp
Jacob’s Coat; Jet Trails

Linda Engstrom
Web

Laurie Fagen
Art Feeds Your Dreams

Aniko Feher
Jerusalem Shadows; Kati

Susan Garrity
Fire, Trees and Water; One in Nine

Claire Gimber
Black Oil Blue Day; Tattoo Bird

A. Carole Grant
Dream

Virginia Greaves
Duodocin

Nancy Graves-Green
String Theory

Cindy Grisdela
Playing With Colors

Maude Haeger
Thinking Outside the Box III

Betty Hahn
Anticipation

Gloria Hansen
Blush Tri-4; Witley Decay

Georgia Heller
Saint Maries

Anne Hiemstra
In the Park

Terry Jarrard-Dimond
Corner Office; Joy and Sorrow; She Came Undone

Kathleen Kastles
Texting in the Food Court; Maury with Julia in the Kitchen; Akai

Sherry Kleinman
Date Night Drive In; Rehearsal

Terry Kramzar
Ravens 3; Leaves

Deborah Lacativa
Serpent of the Grove

Gay E.Lasher
Buffalo; Gunfight; Defending

Eileen Lauterborn
Writing on the Wall

Jill Le Croisette
Apart; Lost

Susan Lenz
Born an Angel; On Earth a Bud

Denise Linet
Random Thoughts; Random Ascent

Kathy Nida
Watch Me Go

Diane G. Nunez
Magic Box

Martha (Marti) Plager
Pages 1; Pages 2; Pages 5

Elaine Quehl
Forgiveness; Losses 2

Wen Redmond
Seeing Through the Fog; Capturing Moments

Sue Reno
Watt & Shand #7; Watt & Shand #10

Susanne M. Riggio
Five Star Sudoku

Lora Rocke
One Last Look

Elizabeth Rosenberg
Venetian Lace 1; Venetian Lace 2

Christine Sauer
Red House; Echo

Sandra Sider
On the Road: Road Rage; On the Road: High Water

Linda Syverson Guild
Architect

Hank Tusinski
Groucho; Carmen Miranda

Marilyn H. Wall
Love 2

Carol Ann Waugh
Fireworks

Barb Wills
Landmarks #34

Julie Zaccone Stiller
Woven Rainbow; Three Strikes

Vivien J. Zepf
Handprint II

Heidi Zielinski
Blackberries and Dandelions

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Jury This Week

Hello Everyone,
The jury for AQXV: Needleplay was delayed. I will let everyone know the accepted artists by the end of the week. Thank you for your patience.
Diane

Saturday, September 4, 2010

ART QUILTS XV Deadline extended...yippee!

Due to the holiday weekend, we are extending the deadline for entries until Tuesday, Sept. 7, at 5 p.m. Thanks to everyone who has entered so far, and I hope the extension gives others time to find their best work to share with for the jury.

-- Diane