Wednesday, December 19, 2012

a little vacation...and PRX, Public Radio Exchange

While listening to NPR, I learned that there had been 32 hundred and 68 dollars contributed to the anti-gun (not the correct name, but you know what I mean) lobby and something like 13 million, it could have been billion for all I know, contributed to the NRA lobbyist.      It's hard to say anything, in the face of that, about the 20 children and six teachers... sad, sad, sad...

 I can't say that I've been accomplishing much, but I've been working hard...

and wanted a little vacation at the Museum of Science. I'd joined because of the Pompeii show, to see it twice, and because the museum is so expensive for one visit, it's worth getting a membership... I was so involved with the project on Thoroughbred breeding this summer, that I did basically nothing else but fuss over that.,,forgetting all about museums and movies and other such entertainment that humans enjoy.

And now I'm doing bits and pieces of whatever, so a vacation is imaginable. However, the mammoth show just didn't help me feel any better physically or mentally. I liked seeing the mock image of Lyuba, the baby mammoth found in Siberia, I think, by a herder, the frozen creature, named for his wife... National Geographic had an issue about her, but I hadn't remember, or perhaps hadn't known that detail of the naming...         So, there was a bit about her, a reproduction of nomadic herder coming across body that wasn't a deer, that had a trunk, a frozen creature which had been petrified by the bacteria of the swamp into which it had fallen,  inspected sufficiently to discover that she wasn't old enough to eat grass, but had lived on pollen and mother's milk...

I can't name the ages, paleolithic, etc., and being confronted with more information that I know nothing about didn't sit well with my mood. Usually I'm cheered by a realizing all that I've missed learning, but I was too tired to enjoy that at all. And it hardly mattered to me, given the mood I was in, that pygmy elephants had come into existence on islands because there was so little food.

I was going to give up and go home to lie down, but then I looked down a different stairway and saw the sculpture

that this little boy is looking at. It's quite huge, a perpetual motion of balls rolling across and down and banging into this or that which got them moving again. Fascinating. The upper section has larger black balls which make more noise, but I got a stiff neck trying to make sense of that, so I settled for looking at the two brothers, one of which appeared quite a while after this fellow had stood transfixed at all the pool-table-size-balls that were conveyed up, slowly, one at a time, to the point where they could start sliding down the wire pathways....and finally end up in that metal bowl shape object  that he's peering into.  

After this I found a volunteer with a skink clutching onto his leather glove...   He was explaining the tongue of a snake, forked so that it can receive smells from different directions, compared to the fleshy tongue of the skink...      

In back of him was a fine room with a hodgepodge of skulls, shells and taxidermied animals...very interesting. It would be wonderful to sit there and draw...

It would be wonderful to sit anywhere and draw...

My favorite new thing is to wake up in the middle of the night and listen to the radio, this strange program that features a mix of story-telling styles. I have yet to look up blank on blank and the other organizations featured on WGBH at that strange hour. Fabulous.

P.S. And to my amazement, I learned about musk oxen on the Seward Peninsula in Alaska, relatively small animals, maybe 600 pounds, with eight inches (could this be possible?) of  heavy, thick interior fur warmer than lambs wool and long silky outer coat that drags on the ground which is shed every year. This was told as if the fellow was actually watching a small herd, but obviously he wasn't and broadcast on Northern Encounters from KCAW in Sitka. Before that I heard Mountain Voices, the last bit of a woman talking about her job checking hunting licenses in a reservations. Her voice woke me up, so I had the pleasure of hearing about musk oxen and learning about a psychiatrist, Albert Bendura, who helps people overcome phobias to snakes, guided master! and learned that the basis of good story telling is anticipation mingled with uncertainty. I hate rules, but I didn't mind at least hearing that one...on PRX, Public Radio Exchange.   Hurry toward this station.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Late Monday Afternoon and into Evening

 This is the tenth cat that's come to the back porch, been fed and eventually placed. Of course, that sentence implies that this one has been placed, found a home, that someone has answered the ad on Craig's list and taken the cat into a good home. That doesn't happen to be true.

K. has done all of this with remarkable skill and good luck until this cat wandered by and she fed her, took her in, made a place in the basement, provided food and rest in so she could bulk up and clean herself up, before the usual process of listing her.

But she noticed that it seems to have a discharge, looked it up on google and found -- infection of the uterus. Damn. A big snag in an otherwise somewhat difficult, but not impossible venture. So, I drove her to the vet I used, having myself just spent $300 to get Bogie's teeth cleaned and 2 pulled so he can return to being a therapy dog, a job he's lagged on for the last few years...

Money has been racing out of my pockets so when the vet said that this foundling cat, maybe a year old, needed an immediate, as in immediate, the next morning, operation that would cost between 3-500 $ minimum...not counting whatever else, I was extremely unhappy and K. was beside herself. This is much, much, much too much money for a rescued cat that would be going to another home.

The vet said she'll die, that we might as well have her put to sleep, no, euthanized, for $130.

And we took her away, quarreling about money, in general, on the way back. The cat was remarkably passive during all of this, undoubtedly because she's really sick...maybe because she has a particularly nice nature.

Fortunately, K. put up a request on Craig's list for advice about less expensive ways of having a cat with this particular and difficult problem spayed...  And fortunately, another client had been in the vet's office at the same time, a woman fostering a ragdoll cat which weighs only 7 pounds, but looks like a small dog with all that fur...and she had offered advice about the organization she's connected with. And three or four people from Craig's list with suggestions, names of vets and numbers. Can you imagine that anyone would be looking on Craig's list at 6 on a Monday evening, just waiting to give out helpful information?

So, with all that help, and endless phone calls and e-mails, this cat has an appointment with THE SAME VET on Friday morning, tomorrow, at 7 am, but now with a voucher and K's cash, only $120, and will have the operation and be thoroughly checked out, given antibiotics, put on a website by the organization sponsoring this and on Craig's list by K. and should find a home in 2 weeks...

I'm very taken with this cat who has a black, or dark gray, chin...and wouldn't mind keeping it, but that would be the route to further insanity.

Right after that, with the quarrel still on my lips, I took the two cakes I'd made during the day, the weakness of using mixes ... four boxes... (but i backed bread that day, so I guess that redeems me, somewhat..a whole day of cooking...quite unusual) to be decorated by Isa and Sofia and Elaine... Maureen came along and helped prevent me from taking over because I dearly, dearly love icing cakes in this way. "Why don't we let the girl's do this?" That was the plan and basically that worked, though the mom did help a bit...   Oh, nothing better than butter cream icing globbed on in festive patches. They were to be a surprise for our marvelous Chelsea Community Garden coordinator whose two terms are over.            I washed bowls to keep my hands off the decorating.    And was quite pleased with having thought of this project and having introduced Elaine, who teaches young children, to this new game....and her girls  made wonderful designs...  

 But my sciatic nerve didn't like something or other. it's taken to protesting recently, especially if i take a walk and then sit in the car to drive home. Whooie... the pain. My body was unhappy when I got home.

So, Sherlock has taking to lolling in the doorway of my workroom, trapping Bogie in it when it's time to go to bed. He was a perfectly excellent kitten, one that K. rescued when the mother dropped three off on the porch next door and those folks didn't want them. But, Tulip took to playing with him and so he's gotten a fierce delight in attacking, especially surprise attacks.    Bogie just hates that and quivers with insult and distress. He just can't muster the will to protest effectively and I often chase Sherlock with a spray bottle, which seems to have done no good...since he gets such pleasure out of his strategies.

So, anyway, I've turned off the light, gotten Bogie safely out of that room and onto the bed, when I go back into the dark room and fall over Sherlock....

End of day. End of story. Except that I took a tylenol and went uncomfortably to bed.

Run to the Roundhouse, Nellie should be up by December 19th.....         I am NOT to be trusted with any details, truly, since I can't remember numbers, never check whether anythings correct, don't seem to have the space in my mind to pay attention and am notorious for slippages, but I will try to put the correct address up as soon as it's gone into space!!!!!!!!! very exciting.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

the dentist, Jay Z, James and Run-to

This is Sherlock in a box. He loves boxes. Any box will do. And patrols high surfaces, wondering what he can knock to the floor (and break.)

For years I have dreaded going to the of my list of hates -- dentists.

But I needed a new dentist because having my problems fixed in the fancy-pants office in Brookline was going to cost an absolute fortune and, in despair, I asked a friend and she suggested her dentist who had gone into practice with a younger man who was taking over...   So, with heavy heart, I went to see him, the younger fellow...a pleasant enough visit that just entailed talking. But, but BUT, I had to have a tooth pulled. Now the former dentist was sending me to a pulling-specialist, but the new dentist said he though he could pull it in the office. (And he takes my insurance.)

So, having taken my quarter of a Valium, and with a stone-cold heart, I went to have it pulled...expecting to leave an hour or more later, exhausted with nervousness. Ten minutes. Nothing more than a tylenol needed afterward. A miracle. And he was calm, quiet and gently talkative about what was coming next for the whole ten minutes. How was this possible?

(He even offered me the tooth to take home. Regretfully, I said no, because I could have added it to all my daughter's baby teeth that I have saved and the fantastic tooth from a dog my father kept when he was a boy.)

Well, I needed a lot more work done, but to my amazement, didn't need the Valium any longer...I now don't assume that I'll die from the injection. And I don't hate going to the dentist.

I suppose I could say that this is the numbing of age, but I'm sure it isn't. And sure that if I went to the other office again...(actually my long-time dentist is retired, he was a rather high strung man, a bit jangly by nature, but nice enough and familiar, and his replacement seemed more like a well-toned salesman .... ) I'm sure I'd be the same wreck.

(I do totally miss the hygenist there because I'd gone to her for so long and listened to stories of her children as they grew up...of her divorce, her father's death, a good marriage, sailing...but my new one lives close to friends and also has children she talks about...her father had 16 children ((two wives)) which is something to think about.)

 So, if anyone lives within driving distance (he's worth a long commute) of North Cambridge, please let me know and I'll give you his name and number and you will, most probably, I can't imagine you wouldn't be, be happy with this modest, quiet man...and his assistant is nice, too...    

I know that the photograph looks a bit odd, but he was working on a fairly deep filling and I had nothing, nada, not a twinge reaction to cold, to heat, no need for a tylenol...etc. etc....  I can't believe it..and I can't believe that I no longer put dentists in the category of the devil...

On to Jay Z/
K. came running upstairs the other night, "You must turn on Channel 14, 14, no, 14." I was reading Daniel Smith's book on hearing voices...the tv was on, but I wasn't listening, but, she said, E. is on channel 14...  She kept coming back up to check whether I was watching, waiting for E. to appear, because K. had seen the sneak preview on this entertainment show about Jay Z riding on the subway back to Brooklyn for his 8th concert and sitting down next to someone who didn't know who he was. Our friend, E.

Finally, the little bit was shown...Jay Z. walking into the station, hundreds of people taking photos of him, his getting into the car, sitting down next to a pleasant looking woman with gray hair pulled back, glasses, and starting a conversation. Now, E. is very attractive, with a fine profile and a lovely laugh, but she does have gray hair. She's not, not, not as old as I am, but she has gray hair....and didn't know who he was. He politely told her he was Jay and was heading to his concert and she congratulated him on taking the subway and so on......   And the wretched commentator talked about the 'old' lady who would call her grandson and in a creaking voice say, "I just met Jay somebody....."                  Anyway, I wouldn't have known Jay Z, either, though I do know L.L. Cool J and Ice T by sight and would like to sit down next to one of them.

So, now I'm to James who I hope will read this and contact me...please...I can't find his blog and can't connect to him via the MAC mail...the same way I couldn't contact the Cuban in London when I tried... but Run to the Roundhouse, Nellie, will be up soon...the memoir site that Susan Landry is creating and I'm participating in....  I had hoped that james would send a hometown riff...250 words strung in his inimitable way........   but don't know how to contact him.

We will be  looking for guest editors..and most definitely.for folks to respond to the Roundhouse topics...for the first issue it's hometown, any riff that this word sets off in your brain...  250 words max....submit to   with your name as you wanted it printed, the city and state where  you live, contact info if you wish...                     Later topics will be on the site when it's up.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

One foot in front of the other...

Now that the track is closed, Clemente calls me every morning from Ocalla...I say, "Hi Sweetie" to the phone at 7 or 8 and he's on the other end of the line saying, "I'm walking and talking" and lots of other things I can't understand even when he puts his teeth in...   His English isn't fabulous and the Spanish I tried to learn from him is non-existent, but it's a pleasant ritual...he calls me his white mother and says that he's 45, which is hardly true, and complains that someone hasn't arrived so he doesn't know what to do, no orders about what horses need to go to the machine and which are going to train...he's actually working in stalls, rather than just hotwalking was hard, I know, when he had to stop exercise riding in the last couple of years, and harder, I'm sure, when he could no longer be a jockey, but this might be an improvement because he's actually pushing a wheelbarrow and cleaning stalls...making more than he did up here, per week, which was $5 a horse he walked, however many horses he walked in a morning, 5 or 6...   anyway, it's as if the circus has left down and left me without the sense I have somewhere interesting to go... until April of May...

Winter is hard, getting dark early, cold in here..I need to put plastic up on the windows...  I'm not fighting a big depression, but a little down that's coped with by putting one foot in front of another and doing was editing a video of a woman who grew up here in Chelsea, remembers all the fun they had playing games on the streets like China and three outs, burning effigies of Hitler and Mussolini in the park after carrying down Broadway, the main street in this little city...   she laughs a lot and wants to go to Boston Commons, sit on the bench, put up a sign, 'Let's talk', since she loves to talk.

I love to listen...

Susan is working incredibly hard to prepare for the debut of Run to the Roundhouse, Nellie...

I'm still going to quilting, still resisting working with small squares, too much work...I hate sewing...but it's interesting listening to the stories these even older women tell...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Run-to-the-Roundhouse, Nellie

Pretty soon, Susan Landry and I will be starting a website, Run-to-the-Roundhouse, Nellie, concerned with memoir. We both think that there's room for an on-line journal devoted to a wide-ranging discussion of this genre of writing and have given a good bit of thought to different ways of inviting people to explore it with us.

Run-to-the-Roundhouse, Nellie will feature two published memoirs per issue, with feature a short discussion of why the editors have chosen each book (but not strictly a review) along with 2-3 questions which have been submitted to and answered by the authors. The goal is to introduce readers to books that they might not know about and to further discussion with those authors. There will also be a link allowing the viewer to buy the books.

Though we will function as editors, produce the first two issues and contribute to others, we are eager to have Guest Editors who will add to the discussion and broaden the scope. We are both older, white, straight, basically, though not-quite, middle class, liberal Americans, and, though we've had fairly wide-ranging experiences, we know our limitations. Hopefully, this site will provide a home for a rich and diverse exploration of memoir and the way this genre allows exploration of fascinating and important differences.

You don't have to be a memoir writer to be a Guest Editor, nor to you have to be a professional writer, though we're assuming that you can construct reasonable sentences and are passionate about the memoir you would like to write about. Please send us a proposal with the name of the book and two or three questions that you would like to ask that author. (As you will see in the first issue, our questions are not about the writing process, but about ideas and issues that seem important in the books we're presenting.)  You would have to find the author's e-mail, etc...and no one is paid for this venture, but we think it will offer an important and interesting venue for discussion of the self-revelation (or avoidance of) implicit in memoir.    (There will be a link or links to purchase the books.)

So, the graphics have been finished, an elegant site done by Benjamin Rosenblum. And we have collected most of the additional material for the first issue.

Imagine a home page which has two discussions of memoirs on either side of a rotating gallery of self-portraits, representing another way of self-exploration/examination...   If the reader clicks on an image, she/he will be taken to the Self-Portrait section where a short bio and contact information for each artist will be available.
Any artist who has a substantial body of work in the genre of self-portrait is welcome to submit by sending 3-4 jpgs of the largest possible size.

The Roundhouse Writing section will feature submissions on various for each issue. The first topic is Home Town. The goal is a personal essay on the topic in under 300 words. Please feel free to submit one for our first issue by emailing it in a word.doc to  
Susan is the Managing Editor, but we will both read the entries. You will be contacted if yours is chosen.

We will also have a section called Memoir Writing which is feature essays of up to 800 words (or more if it's a two-part series.) This offers a broad opportunity to express a variety of ideas about memoir as a genre. Please submit your ideas if you would like to contribute to this.

Another section, Comments, will allow readers to make brief comments....since we haven't published yet, this will only become relevant later.

If you are willing to come along on this venture, please feel free to contact us:

Everything and nothing

 Somehow I erased a bunch of photographs and everything I'd struggled to write about a phone call from a friend in New York, how sorry I was not to have been there, still living there, not to have experienced this crisis of Storm Sandy...she slept under 7 blankets and still managed to keep being productive since she was putting work into two shows...   how, in all that uncertainty life still went on and galleries had openings and she got well deserved praise is unimaginable...   She'd read about global warning in the 70's so this wasn't entirely a surprise for her, but I honestly can't imagine what happened....or how it could have happened except that the environment truly has changed and the sea level is higher and storms are fiercer.  Her mantra was wake up...................      

It was depressing that climate change was hardly a topic in the election, but it's easy to see why since so many people conveniently deny the scientific evidence..... Hopefully President Obama will be able to make inroads in this dire problem....before we sleep-walk ourselves into even worse problems..

Meanwhile, my life goes on as I put one foot in front of another completing one project and then another...

Bogie had his teeth cleaned and two pulled and is on pain medication and cost a fortune, but now he can be a therapy dog again since he doesn't smell so ghastly...

and I have a great dentist...three more serious problems to take care of...

              (There is a collection of books, take one, give one, and I took a thick volume of Pablo Neruda odes that I lay, reading in the sun today...I have a stomach ache...)

and a doctor who worries about colon cancer for someone like me with such a long history of colitis...even though my colon has made a remarkable recovery...I saw the photographs...

The windows need plastic because it's getting cold.
Most of the leaves have fallen.
The dog is sleeping and I'm making no sense.
This fellow's dog peed on his leg. They were from New Hampshire and the dogs had only been in the bay was a great treat, but the beach had no available trees or bushes...

Monday, October 29, 2012

A trip to Lion Springs Farm...

Seamus is my favorite dog. If I could time-share him with Lee, I would in an instant and then spend all my time drawing him. He gullumphs around in a vague, almost drowsy way, as if he knows he's the perfect hero for a comic novel.

Brianaugha (or however you spell that) is only three and still, essentially, a puppy which means that she could easily knock you down. Lee explained that someone she'd heard about had broken a hip when an Irish Wolfhound banged into her. I didn't need to hear this story before hiding behind Lee whenever the dog came bounding over.

There was some hope that B. would successfully become impregnated, but it didn't happen. He, Seamus, came from a litter of nine surviving puppies, if I remember correctly. Evidentally, the uterus is bifurcated, with the puppies in each section, one born from one side, then another. There is more problems with the birth if there are only one or two pups...rather than a huge litter. Seems like a very impractical arrangement to me....

They kill wolves by biting their necks and are almost as large, but not as sturdy, as Romeo who is a minnie horse, a stallion who serves as bait to excite female thoroughbreds before the thoroughbred stallion is led into the paddock. He is around 30, with a large stomach, but still perfectly gorgeous. The long hair of his forelock would have served well to protect his face against flies. Other horses have their forelocks and manes clipped, so that they don't function practically.

For some reason, I really wanted to show K and Smith Lee's farm and she was obliging, spending several hours with us. It was built in 1706, a remarkable barn and house. And I got to see Harry who is one of the nicer people in the world. He works for Lee, taking care of the horses, stalls, gardens, the lamas. I met him when he was training one of her horses at the track and that's where I made my decision about his character....Any situation, from academic life to the backside of the racetrack, gives plenty of room for deciding who is honorable, or at least on your side of any fence, can be trusted to live up to values you think are important, even if they might not be the norm of the institution. And that's where I made my decision about Harry...

K and I got out to photograph pigs that are part of a teaching farm, or something like that, which provides boxes of food for community members who pay a summer or an annual fee. Right now these pigs are being used to strip of field of weeds. A sign warns not to touch or feed them, not to go inside the gate. They were rooting around when we drove by, but came up to greet us.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Project Which (or is it that) Gobbled Me Up....

It took more than two months and ate me alive, partly because of my technical inadequacies, partly because it involved a huge amount of work to get it to the point where someone else could take over the final editing -- another story that was also time consuming and complicated.

Shirley drove, the GPS gave us directions, I took photographs and video. We started in mid-July. We couldn't' go often, of course, since she has to train the horses -- exercise and hot walk, bath and wrap and groom, etc. So, on the days when she could carve out time, we'd leave around noon. She'd drive, we'd drink coffee and she'd tell stories.

One was about donkeys - or maybe it was about mules -- and why she likes them -- because they watch you all the time, figuring out how they can get you to do what they want you to do. They are not like horses, she said, who also watch you all the time, but will do what you want them to, usually.

The stubborness of mules saved her father's life when he was in the army, assigned to delivering wagons of munitions at night. No one knew that he was night blind. And it's probable that he would have died if the wagons had been pulled by horses, rather than mules... since when they got to a bridge that had been tampered with, armed to blow up under any pressure, the mules refused to move forward. Nothing could make them cross. A horse, Shirley told me, would halt, but if told to keep on going, would.

She likes mules and I photographed some on Kenny Posco's farm...but she likes horse, too, Thoroughbreds and Standard breeds. I've seen her sit on a bag of shavings for an hour, just watching what those four horses in her stalls are doing, how they're reacting to a delivery from Dodge Grain or another horse ridden outside of the barn by an exercise rider.

The creature, beautiful as it is, staring out of that very predictable photograph, isn't friendly. He's a cross between a zebra and a horse, a left-over from a petting zoo on this former apple farm that's now a Thoroughbred breeding farm. He roams the huge hunk of land that you'll see below...

Anyway, since July, I learned about some of the ways that Thoroughbred breeding adds to the economy of Massachusetts and took endless photos and video that illustrate this idea, including about land that isn't developed because it is used for breeding farms, of folks who work on the farms, machines bought for farm use and on and on...grains, hay, horse shoeing, equine dental work, washing and grooming and wrapping legs and on and on....
The point of the video is that Thoroughbreds spend 80% of their lives on farms, before and after a relatively short time (2-6 years) at the racetrack. And that there is what is termed an economic multiplier because of their care.

I can't say that I like all that many photographs that I took...but this one was taken at a riding school, another fine place where retired Thoroughbreds have a second career...this horse, which may or not be a Thoroughbred, is covered by a fly mask and coat...and is being led from a paddock back into a barn...

And I can't say that I like horses all that much more, though I'm not as scared of babies, even if one took a nip at my back and I squeaked. I'd be happy to have chickens, and maybe goats. I wouldn't mind a small, stubborn mule, but that's not going to happen...

This is not, I have to say, what I intended to spend the summer preference is standing around in the shedrow listening to Panama, also called Fast Eddie and Eduardo, talk while he rubs down a horse or mucks out the stall. He has three more weeks before this meet ends. And he probably won't come back next year since his wife found him another job. They have a rig and this summer she drove across country with her grandson, making a delivery, and stopping at the Grand Canyon on the way. Since they haul stable goods, they don't have to rush all that much....he has five children, I think, and numerous grandchildren, is a meditative soul, a musician, from a Jamaican heritage preserved when his grandfather was hired to build the Panama Canal...

I'm sure I've written about the impracticality of the horse design -- 50% death rate of mother or foal in the wild. George and Arlene Brown spend weeks spelling each other, sleeping on a couch outside of the birthing stall, waiting to help out, turn the baby over and pull it out, if necessary, and catch.

Anyway, I've learned a lot. Now I have to carve out the time to write.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

oh, September

How is it possible that it's already September? The summer went by in an instant since I was drowning in a project about Thoroughbred breeding in Massachusetts and the way in which this benefits the economy. (I didn't go swimming, not even once, though I actually found my bathing suit in all this mess...)

I did, I think, teach printing black and white photographs well, though I skipped over the camera because it's fairly easy to figure out, I must have decided...while printing involves a lot of fine details and nagging. I am not, I admit, all that technically inclined, except for that one area. And I've been making a mess of video issues and digital picture taking for the last few months (I mean ALL of the summer) which is painfully obvious to me as I'm about to turn the final editing over....  Usually I have two women do this for my work and they are quite used to my problems...but this will be harder for the person who has to tweak this 11 minutes into a handsome form. So I am experiencing guilt, about which there is nothing I can do....  oh, well..

And I am not teaching this semester since the class didn't fill. That's just as well because my particular skills, nagging tactfully and cleverly and teaching printing, are not needed. And so I am really retired, having eased into this state with years of part-time teaching. I do wish I hadn't retired, but, as my grandmother would have said, if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride and, I'll add, my pension would have been a lot higher.

One of the two summer outings, brief as they were, included the Marshfield Fair...where I discovered that chickens could look like this. I want chickens!!!!!!! No, I want chickens which look like this.... Can't you imagine how fantastic video taping them would be? The face is much more forlorn, and a little bit fierce, than is obvious on this photograph.

And there were prizes for vegetable growing. I particularly liked these onions, though I also photographed the carrots. K. was fascinated by the screened-in enclosure where two people stood next to a bee hive. The bees buzzed around the woman while the fellow, also older but with quite a bit of a stomach, had covered his hand with them. "Just grab them," he told me. I'd assumed that he'd put something attractive on his thick fingers, but no. Just inside that bee building was an elderly couple who had sold out almost all of their products which included small jars of mustard made with beer which is particularly delicious. I must like it because it's sweet....

 This is Lee and Branaugh (sp), which means something like lovely raven haired beauty...If you look closely you'll see her eye and Shamus (sp?) is in the background. He is the size of a mini-horse, while she's slightly smaller. Both are leaners so it would be easy to be knocked over as they nudge against a leg...    This is actually one of my favorite photographs of the last few months...and sometime my printer and my computer will connect themselves adequately so that I can make a print. There is hope that Branaugh and Shamus connected via artificial insemination and that there will be puppies...

The Thoroughbred is bred by live cover, while the standard horse often has the sperm mailed in. Stallions are prized for their lineage. I've learned a lot and can't wait until I have the time to write.

The owner (or handler) of these Clydesdales backed them around to demonstrate their intelligence and how deliveries were made to stores which fronted right on the street so that the supplies could be off-loaded from the cart with ease. It swings nicely on an axle and the horses ease forward and back, an efficient team of four. Much larger, heavier, than Thoroughbreds.

They jingle with equipment, their legs are sturdy and their hooves are hidden by feathery hair...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

This is a test...

This is a test and any old photograph will do, but this one happens to be very poignant and the only one available on this desktop.

I've filled my usual laptop to the gills with downloaded photographs and it refuses to take any more. In fact, it's standing at the window shouting -- I won't take it any more - to the families across the street who had a great party last night.

So, it has to go to the computer loft along with this computer which refuses to edit video without crashing.

I have bought a new computer and all this information will be transferred into it, soon. I keep stalling because I'm eeking out one thing after another including three reference letters.

Part of the reason I'm in this mess is that I've taken on a project that's bigger than I can manage....and I've been failing at this and that, making mistakes I'd never make if I were using the Leica. For instance, I ruined two sets of photographs by not knowing that the dial had moved itself from A to S. Hum. Wasn't it Sholem Alechiem (sp?) who wrote about the demons who delighted in making small fussses? They have moved levers on the video camera to abort the sound and twisted dials on the digital camera to destroy images. They have been clever, though I've done enough work to subvert their worst intentions.

But editing what I have left from the various fiascos is very time consuming and tiring. And my body is quite angry. Very angry, though this is hardly an unusual stance for it to take. So, this is a test about whether I can stay awake long enough to write a blog rather than slink off to sleep before the light goes down. It is, I'm sorry to say, getting darker earlier... but it's not even 7 and my preference would be to fade out even though I had a terrific time this morning with Clemente who was giving me a Spanish lesson. My brain is too stuffed to absorb it. I keep mixing up the languages I don't know..using por instead of parra...a smack of French from the high school teacher who never asked us to speak, a bit of Italian from my one semester at New School before I went to Italy with the Italian, twelve years older than I was. Nineteen.

I've learned enough Spanish, sort of, to be able to read a few paragraphs, very easy paragraphs. And Clemente and I laugh a lot before he goes up to the Grandstands to watch simulcast and I drive off to buy dual side DVD's for the video that I'll pick up soon...a long diary of a thing that will probably never get shown but was extremely interesting to make.

That damn problem of showing work. No amount of therapy gave me that impetus. But at least I like to make it. That's a good thing.

My eyes are causing tedious problems, making it hard to take drawing classes which I've been doing on Thursdays this summer, when I'm not in the van with Shirley as she drives us some place or another where I will take, or not take, those photos and videos in 90 degree weather, boiling! The video camera and digital camera are autofocus, which is good. So, the difficulty is comes in drawing and reading...the eye specialist said that my eyes are pitting and that I should always read in very good light, which I never do, and that the cataracts are moving along faster than he thought they would. Like looking through a dirty window, he said, when I went back to complain that his prescription for glasses hadn't produced the magic that new glasses usually do. He laughed. And then explained, as he had two months ago, about the cataracts, though I'm only at the stage where 20% of people would have them taken off. He wouldn't advise that. And I certainly agreed. But not being able to see as sharply as I once did is driving me nuts! I mean how close can I hold a book and why are the letters so small on this blog?              

Just one of those things.....

Sunday, July 8, 2012


 I just got a wonderful e-mail from Patt Blue who inadvertently reminded me that I do write a blog, or did write a blog, so I'm writing this for her since my e-mail server takes my words and flings them into nowhere if I try to write more than a few sentences.

I'd actually written a story to a friend this morning, someone I write the shortest notes to, leaving all sense of my strange life bare, but, of course, the system took the here is the gist of them.

My new pleasure is driving the overflow of folks heading to the dentist from the backside of the racetrack on Thursday afternoons. Shirley zips along on the highway and get them there in ten minutes and I, who am phobic, take them the long, long way, up route 16, on Memorial Drive, down Mass. Avenue, to Barbara McInnis House, or the former mortuary, where there is free dental care.

My car holds 4 and most of the batches have been Spanish speakers, some of whom I know, most of whom I don't. So I got to listen to a joke that included the word gorda many times that was prompted by a fat woman someone saw out of the window. I didn't understand all the details, but I think it was about a husband and a was told by Germany, who used to ride the racehorse I co-owned briefly, another long, difficult story...anyway, he's a slight, handsome fellow with a tight face and good smile and everyone laughed at his joke.

There are different folks going forward and back, and on last Thursday there were mostly English speakers, including Potts who Shirlery thought I knew, but I didn't. He was actually pleased at the scenic route and seemed to enjoy my commentary, "Oh, that's the Charles River? Thats MIT?" I put the radio on some station that i think they'll like and, by accident we were listening to one of the college stations, old records, Nina Simone and Woody Guthrie. I got some applause when I identified his voice before the announcer told us it was recorded in 1947. And then this monologue came on about a guy shoved along in the crowd though some gates, and up into bleachers to watch a bunch of men fight over a little pumpkin they was a kickin' back and forth on the cow pasture down below. I'd heard that Andy Griffin got his start by making this record about watching a football game, but never imagined I'd get to hear it with a group of guys who liked it as much as I did....

the skinny fellow, who I could see in the backview mirror and know slightly, worked for Reba MacIntyre, a real nice lady, when she had Thoroughbreds. Now she has cutters...he said they cut out cattle...I'm curious about just what they look like and what qualities they are bred for..and will ask him when I see him next. He evidentially likes to drive, especially around rotaries which provide a certain spice of danger here in Massachusetts. Most of those drivers are mean suckers and he likes that.

So, last weekend Shirley drove us down to Rehoboth so I could video tape and photograph foals and mares. Paul Foley, a man who is an excellent photographer and brilliant on many levels and in many areas, one  of them being technical information about cameras, spent a couple of hours with me in Paneras, decoding exactly what I might want in terms of a new video camera. He was tactful, something that would be hard for anyone facing the depth of my technical ignorance. And after consulting the web for further information and thinking, which must have taken many hours that evening and the next day, he correctly decided that the camera I thought I wanted was not going to be the right one. So he suggested one similar to my old friend, the Canon that uses mini-dvs...and i ordered it with gratitude for his time and effort and the understanding of my limitations.

But, and here's the story, in the meantime I'd use my Nikon camera which does take HD video. The new camcorder with high definition would arrive at the end of the week. I did NOT do what he told me to do --------- practice using the Nikon so I was secure. But, to my slight credit, I did take along my old friend, the Canon. My purpose was to photograph foals and mares, along with the vet, feedman, horseshoer and the jockey who broke babies. Naturally there were other things going on which I was to capture for an eleven minute video about the lives of Thoroughbreds before their five or eight years on the track and afterwards.
 We were starting on George and Arlene Brown's breeding farm...

One of the mares has a habit of trying to kill her foals, so it had to be hand--raised and kept with a mini, a version of horse which was quite unimaginable to me. He is the foal's companion and went along with it back to the owner's farm not long after I got to photograph them. I am terrified of horses, so it was extremely odd to find myself actually in a paddock with both the mini and the orphan. They'd been led in while I wasn't watching and the gate closed. Fortunately, they were both extremely friendly and non-threatening.

George tells folks not to worry about horses, they'll knock you down, trample you, bite you, leaving you with black and blue marks in the morning. Thoroughbreds are unpredictable and stallions are even more so...I stayed quite a distance away when they bathed one of the two stallions that stand on that farm.            

The vet was examining whether an embryo had attached to the wall of the uterous, using a scope so that she could check on the screen. It had implanted. In the old days, this discovery was made by feel. If there are twins, it's important to pinch one off. The whole birth arrangement of horses seems a bit dicy to me since about 50% die in the wild. Arlene and George spend their nights watching the foaling pen because they have to turn the babies if they are coming out feet upwards.

The foals are born after 11 months and go back to their owners, along with the current baby, already pregnant again. Breed mares. This is undoubtedly the same timing that would occur in nature.

It was quite remarkable to stand in the field watching mares and their foals run down the hill, into the pasture. The foals danced around, leaping and running, often coming too near to where four of us stood under the tree. I can't say that I like horses any more than I did, but it was such an interesting experience.

Fortunately, I got 7 minutes of useful footage on my old camera. And on Monday I called to cancel my order for the new one. I'm sorry, Paul, but even with the smart modifications you suggested, I realized I'm not up to learning more right now....I'm going to have to get a new computer and that's about as much as I can handle.

This blog is supposed to concern aging. And aging is a serious issue. As Morris said when we had coffee on Friday, "Seventy is an entirely new country."   He has a very good life and is a contented person.       I, on the other hand, have a lot of regrets over the mess I made, the poor choices I made. But at seventy, there's not a whole hell of a lot to do to correct them, except put one foot in front of the other and do what's in front of me. And luckily, that's often very interesting.


Sunday, May 6, 2012


 I was inspired by a conversation Mim was having with H. at the Bagel Bards. And then inspired by running into B. at Starbucks. He's quit a disagreeable job and started cleaning out his house, a task that used to be easy, but is much harder due to his health. I had hopes that Ann-Marie would be here and would help me for two days, get me going, but....she isn't. And I got going myself, yesterday afternoon, deciding that two hours would be my limit.

I'd told Mim and H. the story of Barbara McInnis, a folk hero here in the homeless community of Boson, the TB nurse at Pine Street, who had a wonderful song written about her and a respite unit named after her when she was alive. That's unusual. She amassed an amazing amount of clutter, filled all the rooms in her J.P. apartment. Thinking that going to therapy would take too many years to make any inroads into why she was a hoarder, she hired someone for two or three hours on Tuesday evenings, put out three boxes -- to keep, for the good will, to toss out. He would bring her things (she wasn't moving around all that well by then) and she would put them in the appropriate box.

When she began looking at the good will box, thinking that she might save something out of it, she stopped and he took the boxes away.

She was right. At a certain point I did begin thinking, 'Should I keep this?' and stopped, but I'd gotten rid of two of the baskets under the futon.

 Sherlock broke the bag that I put all that stuff in, stuff I'd looked at four or five times, over the years, not able to throw it out.
 Before I moved out to live with X, everything in my workroom was in order. I could find what I needed. When I moved back here, five years later, everything got dropped where ever. This is a corner that was, more-or-less tools for making books. It's now quite neat.
 For years I kept every bottle that the Hormone Replacement Treatment pills came in and all the boxes of the Vagifem. They were, I thought, a tribute to menopause and I was going to put the pill bottles in poured clear stuff (I forget the name of that toxic agent) so that they would become an entity. I don't know what I was going to do with the boxes. It was a good idea, I thought... but I'm not a sculptor or an installation artist, though I think in that direction... so I threw them out, except for this bag that was stuck in a corner. Gone now.
 One insanity, but also a great pleasure, was working with clay. I think this came about because someone was going to put my work in a large show so I felt able to branch out and add sculptural or installation work to it. She never did follow up on that idea, but by the time I figured that out I'd done three or four large clay projects which are now upstairs in boxes. When S. visited, she looked horrified -- not only are there cases of exhibition prints and boxes and notebooks with negatives, but now there are all these boxes with stuff inside them. Can't I get a storage unit, she said.

 One of the problems I made invovled these blobs...they were great fun to shore up with newspaper and bottles so that the clay would drape and dry....and the pieces, like the one above, fit in strange ways into a disintegrated landscape. I really liked doing them. They were quite ugly and I like that, also....  The boxes in which I'd packed them all were hard to identify because many boxes were labeled blobs...and some of those boxes contain some more interesting blobs that I'm not ready to dispose of yet..... they also make a landscape-like-something-but are slightly more charming and smaller.

But the slithering, corroded and impossible blobs are the orange bags that we are now required to use in Chelsea if we have to much to contain in the garbage cans.
And I lost my new glasses. That was Friday. Gone. My only hope is that Sherlock batted them off the couch and knocked them somewhere, but I haven't been able to find them. Alas.