Friday, January 30, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Sunday, January 25, 2009
I have, once again, had a few inquiries as to my where-abouts. Well, here and there… or mostly here but not quite all there????? I am always amazed at those who can blog everyday. I wish I could be that dedicated. Anyway, for what its worth – here is where I have been – sorta…
First, it has been cold. I mean seriously cold – for us! (Philip, stop rolling your eyes.) This morning it was down to 19 F, -7 C. The camellias are frozen little brown crinkled things. There are buds, but it is going to have to do some serious warming up to get any of them to open. It is the first winter in years when we have not had something blooming at sometime during the week if not every day. The only flowers I have are struggling in the greenhouse where I have had to keep the light on sometimes all day, not just at night.
It was SOOOOOOO cold last week-end, I brought Punkin in to spend the night.
The outside cats are real wooly and don’t seem to mind the cold PLUS they have 2 heated boxes they can get into – but Punkin “stands” guard on the greenhouse most of the time. I watched him come out of the “nest” a couple weeks ago and could see what a tight fit it was for his wooly little self – so in he came last week. I spent the night in the living room with him. He was slightly happy when I sat in my recliner and held him. But basically, he was miserable. He would not drink or eat. When he was not on my lap, he was at the back door crying to get out. He ignored the litter box. As soon as the sun was up, I let him out.
The first warm day, last Friday, I added an inch and a half to the height of their nest giving the wooly mammoth more room to get in and out. He spent the night in there last night, with Spook, warm and toasty. He no longer gets even close to the open back door.
I spent last Tuesday glued to the TV set. I have not watched an inauguration since Eisenhower was sworn in – what was it – 1953, when my entire class of 4th graders went over to a classmate’s house to watch. Not many of us had TVs yet in 53. I know we didn’t. Anyway, I watched Obama become the 44th President as some friends and I cheered him on. We were both sorry we weren’t there and grateful we were warm. Plus, we got a much better view!
Otherwise, I have been busy when I have been busy and worthless on the days when I have been worthless. You see, I have been diagnosed with Lyme’s disease. And so – I am on a regimen of heavy doses of antibiotics and then bunches of cleansers to clean the crap out of my system. I have been learning more than I ever wanted to know about Lyme’s – and I will not bore you with my knowledge or lack thereof, to be more precise. I will recommend a couple of books – the Lyme Disease Solution, by Kenneth Singleton, and Everything You Need to Know about Lyme Disease, by Karen Vanderhoof-Forschner. There are others, of course, but these are the ones I know a little about.
Basically what I have learned is there are many of us running to doctors with “problems” that just don’t quite fit in the proper niches and get labeled chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, people have even been told they have MS when it was actually Lyme’s. I also learned that Lyme’s can come from the bite of a number of insects – not just ticks – though I have had my share of tick encounters. Lyme’s apparently can come from flea bites, gnats, mosquitoes, flies and mites. It is carried through the blood so you can get it thru a blood transfusion. And NO they do not check for it.
I will spare you a list of my symptoms (as my doctor friend now calls an organ recital, thanks to my neighbor for sharing that one with me) but I will say this. Some days the fatigue is so great, I feel lucky that I have managed to take care of my basic needs and I have to accept the fact that the floor is not getting washed today or the vacuum is not going anywhere. On those days, the brain fog seems greater than usual – and even studying is not an option. Sometimes it takes too much energy to even respond to a blog I have just read. I have been lurking a lot. If I used to read your blog – I probably still am – but it takes too much to let you know. When I do have a bit of energy, it goes into doing the things I absolutely have to do – laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, cleaning up after the cats. Some days are spent napping, something I never used to do. But, the masses of bacteria that are being killed is rough on one’s system, the little beggars have really entrenched themselves. Sometimes they are dormant and then POOF! We’re baaaaack! If you know me, I am not a whiner. I have kind of accepted my physical limitations – my car accident – my arthritis – I have not accepted my age yet… I still want to be able to work like I did when I was 25 or 30. Hell, I’d settle for 50, but don’t tell me I am too old to cut my own grass! So for years I have suffered in semi-silence when I just could not do the way I wanted to do or got exhausted so easily – but it got out of control. It got so I was seriously out of breath doing just simple things – making my bed, for example, pulling the laundry out of the washer. I’d be gasping for breath, possibly sweating profusely. So I did the heart Dr thing and the stress test and he said my ticker was OK… but I wasn’t. A friend who had been diagnosed with Lyme’s suggested I go get the blood work done. Long story short – I did. Good news – bad news… I have Lyme's. At least I understand what is going on in my body and I have a chance to make things better. Someone said, “But the treatment is worse than the disease…” Yeah, it is rough, and I am not on the roughest part yet – the part where I have to give up my Starbucks (OMG!) But the treatment will end – without it, the Lyme's gets worse.
So, bear with me. Do not think I have abandoned you. I am still there or here, even when I am not all there.
I did get a new camera, but I have taken only a few pictures with it. I will share a couple of bad/good pictures with you. Please note, I have not even tried my telephoto lens on this camera yet – I am still just trying to figure this lens out and all the quirks with modern technology. These pics are of a pair of Pileated woodpeckers that live here.They were obviously up in a tree too far to get any color to show up. Best you can do is identify their distinctive shape. The little Nikon would not have gotten this much, so I am proud of what I got. Be patient… the manual is only 200 pages long. I’m on page 14. LOL!
And then I rest.
Friday, January 16, 2009
As most of you know, Andrew Wyeth passed on in his sleep, on January 16, 2009. If I had been able to do my series of Heroes as I had intended, Andy would have been done as he was high on my list. On my “list” of the most famous people I have met, Andy came right under His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and just above Katharine Hepburn. It is a very short list limited to those who have impressed me. It is part of a much longer list if you consider I used to work at the Pocono Playhouse in the summers back when they had REAL stars on the stage. Some of them were wonderful people, some were hateful. But I digress… as usual. Maybe I should have said – impressed me in a positive way.
I met Andy years ago – I am not even sure just when it was now, but he was visiting at the home of a friend in the Brandywine area. He was “real” and not a pompous ass, stuck on himself or full of LOOK AT ME. In fact, if I had not known the name and had not been an art major, I might not have paid him any attention. One of his favorite things was to sit at Hank’s Diner and listen to and sometimes talk with the tourists who wanted to know if he had ever seen Andrew Wyeth or knew where he lived. He usually said, “No.” Or that Wyeth was a real recluse or was in Maine this time of year. And, that recluse part is kind of true as he was not the flashy celebrity type, if you know what I mean. And those who knew him frequently lied to people who came looking for him. “Nope, ain’t seen him in a while… think he went to Boston (or Portland, or Philadelphia…)” when he might be right across the street or sitting at a table across the diner! If you did not know his voice, you probably would never have known he was around. He looked like your neighbor, or a local who just stopped in for a cup of coffee and a piece of home made pie. He probably drove that old Suburban in the parking lot – definitely not the Beemer type!
I first “discovered” his work in art school where a couple of profs thought he was OK and a couple others looked down on him as an illustrator, which did not make sense to me – but what did I know? I was just a kid. Personally, I found it difficult to appreciate Jackson Pollock and the splash and dribble crowd and found things in Wyeth’s work that touched me and spoke to my way of looking at life. Do not think I am saying I saw life the same way he did – its just that most of his things made me feel something that sometimes I could name, and sometimes I could not, but his art “held” me – if that makes any sense. It was much more than, “Oh, that is nice – or – well done” – it held me, made me respond inside, and isn’t that what every artist wants? To get a response? To communicate a feeling? I related to the places, to his people. They were my neighbors, my friends, the people down the road a piece.
As time went on, I “taught” the Wyeth’s as an art history unit actually using them as local artists since it is possible to drive to the family home, visit the museum, have lunch, visit a number of his “locations” (the Kuerner farm, for example) and be back home in time for supper. I call that local. Several of my friends have studied with Carolyn Wyeth, Andy’s sister, who lived in the family home at Chadd’s Ford until her death. The house is now open to the public thru the Brandywine Museum tours as is the studio.
One of my favorite Wyeth stories was told to me by my old friend and neighbor, Sabra Kimball,* who passed away about 10 years ago. Many years ago, Sabra was the art editor for a very well known publishing company. She wrote to NC Wyeth, Andrew's father, and asked him if he would do the illustrations for – um, I don’t remember the book right this minute. NC did a lot of famous children’s classics… Anyway, NC wrote back that he was much too busy – BUT – he would do the cover if they would let his son Andy do the illustrations. He was but a boy, but, he said, he was pretty good. Sabra (do ya love this?) Sabra said she decided to take a chance on the boy – and the rest is, as they say, history! Andy was 16.
Andy was the same age as my father, just a couple of months younger. My kids used to be so impressed that I could remember all the dates for the Wyeth’s – but they all correlated with dates in my own family. I loved to use Andy's work for creative writing, too. Knowing the histories of the places and people who lived there, most often the kids sensed the dynamics of the people whose personalities came thru the paintings - even when the people were not shown. The Kuerner farm made most of the kids a bit uncomfortable yet the Olson home seemed friendlier.
If you don’t know much about Wyeth’s work, do look him up. In my humble opinion, I think that time will prove him to be the greatest – or at least in the top 3 – artists of his time. He is definitely at the top of my list, followed closely by Georgia O’Keeffe, but his work, as my grandma used to say, has more meat on it! It keeps you there chewing on it, not just because of his mastery of technique, but because he “takes you there.” Does that make sense? Or it takes you someplace you can relate to. On the other hand, I suppose if you lived your life in a city and never got out in the country – it might seem a foreign place – likewise if you grew up in the desert. But I lived much of my life in the eastern part of Pennsylvania and on the coast of Maine.
I find myself wishing I could talk to the people in his paintings. I am sure I know some of them, or I knew someone in their family… see if you don’t feel the same way, too. Though I must confess, I cannot relate to the Helga series and in reality I may have met her! But that is one body of his work (pardon the pun) that does nothing for me. I have a large collection of his prints (I taught a class about him, remember) and I do not have one Helga print. My favorite painting is which ever one I am looking at at the time. http://www.awyethgallery.com/andrew/ has a good collection of some of his most famous works. Or just google Wyeth prints and find a lot of good stuff.
For more information on Wyeth please go to: http://www.brandywinemuseum.org/index.html. Or visit the home and studio at http://www.brandywinemuseum.org/ncstudio.html. They used to have a virtual tour of the studio, but I don’t see a link to that anymore and my saved link goes to the page but it will not load, so I guess that page is down for some reason. I know my kids LOVED that page and the folks at the museum allowed me to take my video camera in there and do my own video for my class. That was totally cool. I also have shots from the Kuerner Farm.
Again, I feel I have been so fortunate to have had the chance to be associated with these people and to have seen so much of his work. If you are anywhere near Wilmington, Delaware, you are only minutes from a wonderful gallery and some of the best art work in the world. Be sure to stop in!
*Sabra, for those of you who follow my blog, was the one who gave me several of my camellias seen on this blog, most notably Yule Tide and Debutante.
Saturday, January 03, 2009
I am not sure if this is our same couple from last year. If I remember correctly, Papa did not seem too great in the food provision department. Mama had to go find most of her own food and then feed the babies. SO, hopefully if this is the same pair, they will have a bit of maturity this year and do a bit better.