Sunday, October 31, 2010

Another Hallowe'en survived

Every year I say how I don't like Hallowe'en, hate the ghoul motif, can't stand the endless attention to it everywhere and the awful pictures I can't bear to look at.

Then the day comes around, I stock up with candy, and we are invaded by the most wonderful gangs of kids, neighbors, who are so funny, so cute, and so altogether nice that I'm fine with it again.

This year it started early with our first arrival, about three thirty, a handsome little Chinese neighbor with a face like a flower, and when I asked for a picture, instantly put on this mask, heh, so you see before you a diminutive power ranger or alien or something.

Many kids later, a huge group appeared, had been partying together, and one of the boys said "we're a PARADE!" These kids all take one piece of candy, say thank you, and wish me Happy Hallowe'en. I love them. And word about mischief night, once dreaded around here, has not permeated the Indian community, an real plus since mischief night fell on a Saturday this year.

The picture shows only the front of the parade -- the various lights running down the walkway are all other kids, with various costumes, some of them quite aggrieved because protective moms made them put warm coats on over their outfits! chilly night tonight for Hallowe'eners. And there are a lot of tiny kids clustering around their elders, but invisible to the camera!

A welcoming committee of Dollivers, having won a short but nonetheless vigorous argument about who was to be on candy watch, set up the candy just in the nick of time before the first alien arrived, and were duly admired, their main motive in all this.

Happy Hallowee'en, everyone!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

L'eau et le soleil!

Warm, windy sunny day, perfect for the sun to play with the dancing fountain in the town center.

Mystery animal swimming in midair

Trees and jets, dancers and poodles

Giacometti lives!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Looking, hearing, learning...

As I promised there's a new trove of reading to recommend to you all.

First and,well, definitely first, is a small piece of fiction written by a young Canadian writer with a big future. Anthologized as the lead article in the current collection of Awkward Press, this collection being on the theme of brevity, is An Open Letter to Our Valued Clients, written by our own blogista and blogger in her own right, aside from being an up and coming fiction and fantasy writer, Heather Clitheroe!

Catch her at, too, but get your hands on this collection. There are twenty five pieces in it, but my money's on Heather, not that I'm biased toward my friends, of course....Heather has already earned residencies, prizes and awards and at the tender age of nemmind how young she is, it's young, has done public readings of her own work. Yes, I'm impressed, how could you tell?

Calming down a little, there's the new work from Oliver Sacks, another friend in fact, and this time it's The Mind's Eye, about visual concepts and memory and discoveries. Like a true researcher, this time this neurologist uses his own life-changing experience with cancer in the eye to explore and explain the visual world in terms only a neurologist could conceptualize and only a gifted and good humored writer could convey. Complex and not easy to read, but well worth pushing on, just because of the sheer beauty of his prose and the elegance of his rhythm and phrasing.

He learned quite a bit over the course of his research into vision and into his own brushes with serious loss of vision, and one of the endearing things about him is his capacity to admit that he was unaware of some things until he experienced them himself. One loss he suffered was that of binocular vision, which means his depth perception is gone.

So he sees two dimensionally all the time. And he is surprised to find that now he understands a lot more about two dimensional art design, because he begins to see how an artist sees and designs his subjects on the two dimensional surface. The difference being that the artist summons up this vision as needed. It's one of the challenges of teaching adults to draw, to let the eye show you what to do, and ignore the brain telling you the eye is wrong!

He talks about kinds of visual memory, too, and discusses the kind of eidetic, or "photographic" memory which some of us are blessed with. I remember lovingly one time back at the Uni when I was sitting on the steps outside the building in which I was to write one of the vital final exams based on which I either would or would not get a degree, the British system being quite brutal in this regard.

I was nervous and dropped an armful of notes and books on the steps and as I picked them up, I noticed two hitherto unrelated ideas in my notes, and that set me off on a wonderful new train of thought, which I hoped I could use on the exam. All essay, no such thing as multiple choice, you sank or swam on your own raft of knowledge.

All the papers and books had to be left outside the door, of course, no such thing as open book exams, either, and I nearly shrieked with joy when one of the three sink-or-swim exam questions gave me the chance to use this terrific brand new idea! which I read back in my head from the pages I'd dropped, just as if I had them present in my hands. Terrific outcome, too.

Of course that gift could play you a bad turn too, if you forgot to take notes or were just too lazy. Then during the exam I could visualize the blank page with only the heading on it, and hope desperately to recall what I ought to have putten if I'da remembered to putten it.

Sacks would understand this perfectly. In fact he is very consoling in that he comments casually on having observed and accepted phenomena that I'd been told were not possible, or were just an invention! not so. But to be validated even many years later is a wonderful gift.

And speaking of terrific prose, is The Great Silence, by Juliet Nicolson, about the years after WWI, and by anecdote and quotation from a huge range of English people, including some still living at the writing of the book, sharp and cheerful Londoners past 100, old memories still intact, she constructs a narrative you can't put down.

It's painful and difficult to read but illuminates the frantic partying amid the losses and hardship of the twenties and the grinding misery of the thirties. The writer is connected enough to read the diaries and letters of people we've only read about, and she's the daughter of Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville West -- heck, she lives at Sissinghurst, avid gardeners will know that place.

But connections aside, she's simply a great narrative writer, and you understand so much you didn't before you read this book, even though I had heard a lot of the events and fashions and tragedies mentioned, but without this illumination.

Friends who are aware that today HP had what my old aunties would call "a nasty turn" will be happy to know that he's feeling much better, ate supper as normal, did his evening exercises and is sleeping peacefully even as I write. We'll live to fight another day, though I wondered for a few minutes there.

Chop wood, carry water!

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Modest Plan

So the squirrels are busy stuffing on walnuts in anticipation of bad weather, at least that's their story, and the leaves are drifting down

and the miniature dachshunds are in training for the big winter race in the park

he's coming up on the rail, ready to go all out, one furlong and he's leading the field by a doxie length...and chez Boud some Christmas, ssshhh, stuff has been accomplished.

There is nothing like tension and anxiety to fuel the knitting needs, and the current crop of three hats, one belt, one tiny purse and two scarves are there to prove it. One hat to respite student, one to HS, and the third as you will see

The picture is of the future presents for our wonderful cleaning couple and their teen daughter who was not too proud to come out and join in the cleaning team in the summer. I always add in a little actual cash, but some stuff is good, too. And they're out in all weathers, so these will be nice.

The scarf is the yarn harlot's one row scarf, looks much more complex than it knits, made from the lovely harvested lambswool sweater which has yielded half a dozen nice things to date, and there's still some to go. The scarf I followed a pattern, but the others I adapted or designed from scratch, more fun that way.

The hat for the man of the couple is knitted in single rib followed by shaker rib for the main pattern part and stocking stitch for the tapered crown, in superwash wool.

And the teeny purse is crocheted in some yarn mix, just a fun item really, but you can put your keys in it, or your cellphone or your MP3 player, or whatever else they will have invented by the end of the year.

And on the household front, the carpet man was here today to measure the kitchen for a new floor, vinyl, and commented hm, about time, really, to which I heartily agreed, and the measuring and pricing for stair carpet for front door to loft, two full flights and one long hallway's worth.

Nice green gentle color, NOT horrible old beige pile like the stuff in place now, high time that went, too, and they will be in touch when it's all in the shop. Nice people. They've done good work for me more than once, and it stays done and looks good. So. We're on. That's the Christmas present for the house, I guess.

New windows next. In the Spring, though, can't tolerate having them all out at once in the cold weather! but they have to go, original windows put in by builders, being replaced all around here as people can't stand the drafts any longer. But that's Easter planning, not Christmas, if we do home improvements by the church, wonder what I should plan for Quinquagesima.

Meanwhile, I plan to do as little as possible, other than read about which more when I post next, some exciting stuff in the mail today along those lines.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Trivia and other brain games

Now and then I amuse myself with very silly stuff. Such as reading the slips previous borrowers leave in my library books listing all their borrowing on that occasion. I'm intrigued to know how come they borrowed a book to my taste and yet their other choices are SF or fantasy or poli. sci., or whether like me they borrow for another person too.

My own choices must look wild, given that I read a lot of nature, art, novels, cosy detective, regencies, heavy psychology, etc., on my account, and borrow all kinds of astronomy and history and political treatises on HP's behalf. But they would all appear on the same borrower's slip.

When that exciting focus dims, I turn to those weird mixed wordette things you have to copy and type to get into blogs and suchlike entry way items. Usually not words at all, even if you can decipher them, which I often can't, but very very close to words, as if, like me and Swedish, I feel as if I could understand them if I listened and looked better.

Turns out there's a whole industry of people being paid by the wordette to type them and put them to use for spammers to get around. Each new invention spawns a new cottage industry. And new language to describe it.

On to other much bigger brain games. This is one my own brain plays on me rather than my engaging in it voluntarily. It sometimes scares people when I tell about this so if you're easily scared by psychic stuff stop reading now!

What this is, an ability I've had as far back as I can remember, is an odd way of knowing things that I never experienced nor could know about, it being the experience of another person. Not deja vu, where you suddenly have the feeling you've had this conversation before or seen this place before. That relates to your sense of your own experience.

But this is different. I can explain it with a couple of examples: many years ago, I was talking to a man I'd just met who was talking about a trip he'd made to England, a part of it I'd never been to, and was out walking.

I suddenly flashed on the scene and blurted out (before I learned not to spring this on people), oh, I know you turned a corner in the road between high hedges, and suddenly in the garden right ahead of you was a Henry Moore sculpture.

The speaker turned all white and upset and demanded how did you know that? were you there? are you following me? all very upset, and I had to explain no, it was just a mental flash I'd had on the scene, sorry. Never been there, knew nothing of the place, just had an image of it before he went on to say it. He looked at me funny after that, I must say.

And there were other occasions when I knew exactly what he was about to say, but this time refrained from joining in!

Oddly enough he was a novelist and you'd think this might be grist for his fictional mill. In fact I read a novel he published a while after I'd known him casually, and there were chunks of conversations we'd had in a group, whole and entire, but not this one. I think it unnerved him.

Another really lovely one: I dreamed of my eldest sister walking up to me as if to a camera and telling me she was pregnant, had just found out, and it was a boy (this was in the days when you didn't know that until the birth) and I asked her if he would be Andrew. She looked very happy. Ages later I heard she'd given birth, had not heard anything directly from her, hadn't seen her for years, but counting back it seemed that I'd dreamed this right when she'd found out. And the sex and name were right. Some psychic connection, perhaps.

That was unusual because it was a dream, but mostly these are waking events.

Or I've met a person and been suddenly very careful around them, seeing visions in my mind of scenes they were to be involved in, and found later that it did happen. Don't want to get into too many details here.

But you get the idea. I have discovered that some people who don't get these flashes of foreknowledge or whatever it is, are really scared about it if I mention them, as if it's a supernatural event or something! to me it's just part of how I roll, doesn't bother me at all, just added information to the newspaper that is life. But it's amazing how often I know just what a person is about to tell me!

I suspect it might be a kind of mental energy generated by the hyperalertness of being the youngest by a long way in a large FOO. Or extreme illhealth as a kid, which does affect your development when you mind is charging ahead and your body can't keep up. Anyway, whatever it is, I do use my powers for good!

Sign me Glinda!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Two Hours. A Lifetime.

Now and then people who know I have only two respite periods per week of two hours each, wonder how on earth I can get to enjoy such short times away from the house with no worries. And they do the math to see how many working hours I have in the week. I don't. I just know it's a lot.

Mostly I use the respite time to shop for groceries with time to actually think and study what's good in the produce department. But once in a while I'm all caught up and I can just play.

What happens then is that when two hours is all you have, you can cram a life into it! And it's all joy, like focusing on a single sunlit drop of water instead of insisting on having the whole ocean available.

Today a perfect October day coincided with one of my times off, and I spent the entire time at the Preserve, walking and marching and strolling and ambling and taking pictures

and watching gangs of warblers and tufted titmice and chickadees and other little fellers busily running their worlds. And the occasional groundhog trotting about purposefully.

I walked the longest trail all the way to the end, where there's a peninsula with a seat

of local stone, warmed today from the sun, where you can sit

and watch birds or the sun sparkling on the waves -- brisk wind today --

or just gaze and do nothing but be there. And look at the clouds and how fast they change in the wind

And see the sun slanting through the trees, lower down now in the sky.

And the red maples glowing in the smaller trees

And a tuft of down

caught in the grass. And find other benches in the sun

And take pictures to show your friends, to invite them in, to enjoy, too.

One of those times you know you'll remember and remember.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Art and taxes

Fall tree at the entrance to the town hall, on my dragging way to pay my real estate taxes. Add to the inevitables that of art. Always present particularly in this town, where there's an amazing array of art talent in all media.

After certain benighted township officials who shall be nameless to protect the guilty, declared that there were no artists in Plainsboro and that we would have to import any art we had in public can guess the comments from folks like me, long active in the art scene, helping to found our gallery, to found the nowadays huge Festival of the Arts, bringing in new artists all the time, quality stuff, too, not your grandad's whittling, putting my own art on the line regularly...well, anyway eventually said people said, okay, we will house some art, big treat for you artists, you can GIVE it to us in perpetuity, we will honor it, aren't you lucky, by hanging it in hallways in the town hall, right next to the municipal court and the tax office.

Well, some of us aren't up for that, however some of my friends were willing and since yesterday was Paying the Real Estate Taxes day for me, I took the time to walk around and actually look at the artworks lining the hallways, rather than just sort of see them in passing.

They are in narrow hallways, hence the distortion, impossible to get far enough back to get a better picture, but bear with me, as you admire Maureen J's brilliant mulberry paper collage, one of many of her works, collages and watercolors, you just have to see

Bob J's (no relation) found object mask

My personal jury is still out on this artist, good friend though he is, since the charm of the works, masks and various fantasy animals, resides in the sheer craftmanship of the found objects, done by other people and found at flea markets and other places, taken apart and reused. Inventive, yes. Creative, I don't really think so. Art? debatable. Saleable? you bet!

Then, down the hall and around the corner is a children's group quilt

honoring the township, under the guidance of Maria P., a wonderful book artist and local treasure.

Then there's the Embroiderers' Guild quilt of plants and flowers

must be seen to be really seen if you follow me, and round the next corner standing out above all from the young people's section of the works

a wonderful drawing by an eleventh grader not known to me, but such power and talent in this young work. At this point he's probably out of college, these pieces having been hung years ago, and off on some career, hopefully in art, since he really has some eye.

And always there are the dogs, to misquote Dylan Thomas

the black lab

as soon as he saw my camera sitting doing his impersonation of a Good Dog Who Should Get a Biscuit

the little white dog

rugged individual, you go your way, human, I'll go mine and the beagle

aka Spy Dog skulking round trees and evading the camera at all costs.

I guess my Taxes of Plainsboro are supporting Art of Pboro and Dogs of Pboro, too.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Dollivers exercise their franchise

Since New Jersey has mail-in voting for all even those who are not, like HP, on the permanently disabled list and receive all their ballots at home, we now vote together, at the table which becomes the voting station, and this year the Dollivers assisted with the procedure of getting the stuff into the mail.

Dollivers at the mailbox grappling with the ballots, don't drop the envelopes, don't drop ME.

This being a midterm election, not as exciting as a Presidential one, but vital all the same, we were keen to get our faves back into power in the state as well as in DC. Not to mention the sheriff, yes we have a sheriff, but I don't think he wears a star and a big hat, and freeholders, yes, we have them too, great historical title, and assemblypeople, including the blessed Greenstein whose aides have helped me with all kinds of knots the state treasury has tried to tied me up in, instead of giving me my own mone back. And Rush Holt for Congress again, our rocket science rep and all around good guy, one of the few politicians I ever met who dared to say I don't know in answer to a question, followed by, but I'll find out and I'll get back on that, and he does.

I think I'll kick them into place just to make sure.

I did nothing to correct the Ds impression that we were voting for Rights for Dollivers, not wanting them to rip up the ballots and throw them in the brisk wind which wasn't helping us all at the mailbox this morning.

But they did point out that their assistance as poll workers merited a trip out for their new dresses -- and pink dress Dolliver pointed out that this was the ideal time for her to wear her designer knitted silk dress with matching hat, and her Michele Obama leather belt. Amid a chorus of my dress is silk, too, neener, and I have POLKA DOTS, and I have LACE and I have a GARDEN PARTY HAT which I won't go out in, too windy for it, we made the trip.

Once home they decided the photo shoot should include a gangshot of the new duds

and their ever appreciative audience, HP.

The Ds. did stop posing long enough to say they were glad his dentist came on Friday and did a terrific job, removed the broken and dodgy tooth and root, very very tricky, even the Dollivers were in awe of the skill, and so fast that Boud was wondering when he was going to pull it out and realized it was done and stitching was under way. Oh.

No aftereffects, largely because Dr. Y. has almost completed a year long residency, over and above many years of homecare dentistry and tricky procedures, in special oral surgery at Temple U in Philadelphia, and explained he used some advanced skills to get this nice result for HP.

The Dollivers asked me if I fancied proposing him for sainthood, since the Pope is in the mood at the moment, heck, he had to look as far as Australia for a candidate, but I said, nah, it's okay, he can manage just with our profound gratitude and a card at Christmas.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fiber Artworks Preview

I'm in the midst of a series of fiber artworks, wallhangings, which involve tapestry weaving, knitting, beading, using a lot of my own yarn spun from original fleece and dyed with KoolAid (!) and other people's handspun -- the lovely red tweedy yarn in the long yellow tapestry/bead piece was part of a gift from Heather C., her yarn share in a fiber farm, from sheep we probably saw in their lambcam in the Spring.

Then there's the yellow string, courtesy of the hardware store, and various other yarns courtesy of the thrift store...

This is where I start to look at what I've made to date, and see what is happening. I literally usually do not know this until I hang the show, but that won't be till next year, and I'm still working on other pieces in my head.

But this is a preview of where we are to date. And it looks as if some of the pieces have taken the form of clothing shapes, indirect portraits,

Originally thought of as a setting sun landscape over water, it seems as if a person insinuated herself into the midst of this one.

This is Ear of Wheat in a wheaten colored yarn. My subconscious turned it into a dress piece.

This is a mixed media, plastic pieces and knitted cotton yarn, officially unfinished but enough people have seen it in the house where I hung it to hang out, lengthen, and for me to study and see what's next, people who liked it a lot and thought it was finished, so maybe it is. Visiting Indian ladies last week liked it a lot, wanted to handle and enjoy it. So, is it done? we'll see.

and some become landscapes, again, indirect portraits.

I spun most of the yarn in this triptych, and dyed it, and watched in amazement as buildings and farmhouses and fields and crops started appearing in the work.

This is my first tapestry, made on a loom I created from a picture stretchers, warped with mason's twine. And it turned into a kind of study of crops stretching out to the horizon. A Navajo weaver saw a picture of this and was very encouraging about it, a great thrill, since she's a kind of national treasure.

I never plan and draw these out ahead, just work instinctively as I go. And see what happens.

Always an adventure.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Newsflash from Our Dollivood Reporter

EmCee, our Dollivood observer and reporter, sent in this newsflash:

The Dollivers' picketing has evidently paid dividends coast to coast. They are now in a huddle, torn between wearing hard hats to honor the Chilean miners' rescue, and campaigning to get their own bubblebath hot tub.

As they said, seize the day,let's do both, it's not every day we can be shovers and makers, we mean movers and shakers.

Reminded that they now have national union responsibilities, they pointed out that the least the union of Dollivers and Allied Barbies, aka DAB or Dolliver Nation, can do is provide decent workplace amenities to the founding Ds.

If Barbies have a conference bubblebath, Dollivers should, too. And they bet the Chilean miners would agree with them that a nice bubblebath is just the ticket after a shift in the mine. Or the D's clubhouse. They generously offered to campaign for bubblebaths for Chilean miners and their families to celebrate their rescue, too, so there's that.

Having exhausted the social responsibility impulses of the Ds, it only remains to remind blogistas that you can read the text of the riveting press release courtesy of EmCee, guest blogger, by clicking once to get to a new screen, then again to biggify it.

And to be seriously thankful with all of us that the miners have seen the light of day finally.

Monday, October 11, 2010

October food of all kinds!

Literal food is the two nice loaves I made with dough that made bread this time, rather than pizza bases (which are in the freezer waiting for an urge to eat pizza)

Sun shining through the trees, food for the eye and ear, birds, you know

and along the tree-lined path, yet another one, I have a few of these around here.

Food for international relations the two Indian ladies taking a gentle walk through the park

And food for the spirit is the border out in the front yard, still blooming away, no frost yet

Food for thought is the note my neighbor left this morning, torn off the Wall Street Journal, indicating that it's being used to housetrain a puppy. Hm. I wonder if Wall Street knows that.

Evidently it's failing in its goal, since the neighbor now wants to add my New York Times and Star Ledger to the mix. Who said newspapers had had their day?