It could be time to quit longform writing. Too demanding of the wrinkled writer.
My computer tech noted that Ron has a less busy desk top than mine.
Maybe. Though there's a comfort in long held images. I open the computer and there are red plastic appliances. Once I had grand thoughts of writing on the dominamce of red in my household.
When our last glass coffee pot used to boil tea water broke, the online search revealed these Italian made beauties. We went to Kitchen Kaboodle, "locally-owned since 1975"-- a thrill to go into a real live store, not be forced to select a new object in space.
There was a choice of colors. Would have been adventurous to select green. But no; I'd bought into red when I moved here, downsized to a smaller Cuisinart food processor in red. Left behind my beautiful kitchen for charmless current one. Maybe red would distract.
Goes along with the Italian tomato crusher I bought in New York for Ron. Excellent device which he took some time to appreciate, now extols its value to all. Italians have always excelled at design. Chose red Bodum, electric water boiler, Danish not Italian....close.
Have long craved an Olivetti typewriter. Noun, vintage shop on Belmont Street, near our daughter's home, had one I resisted. This 1960s green Lettera 22 whisks me back to New York summertime, unairconditioned busses, demurely dressed Eastside career girls perspiring. We did not sweat till we gave ourselves permission later in that decade.
I'll end with this big pot of tasty, red tomato sauce, made by Ron, aided by the Rigamonti Velox crusher.
No success at short form writing here. Did clear desktop a bit. Hard to retire the anti-suffrage button (pre-1920). Seems so relevant.
Hestia, the goddess of the hearth, could use more attention. First heard of her from feminist home economist, Patricia J. Thompson. Unlike others in her discipline, Pat was deeply intellectual about home ec. Here In "Close to Home: an homage to Hestia," she is most accessible.
We met her in the 1980s--she was teaching at Lehman College in New York. I got closer to home ec when Ron Bloom switched departments from Education to Home Economics at Morgan State University in Baltimore. Listened to her ideas. We talked about the women like Ellen Richards who pioneered the field, congruent time and energy of Jane Addams and social work.
You know that sense-- a concept attracts but seems just out of reach? That was how it was with Pat. Always thought I needed to be a little smarter, go deeper. The world needs more like her; wish we had not lost touch. She was quirky personally, surely a result of her complex and difficult background. She was obsessed with being the unacknowledged daughter of a famous Russian and Soviet poet from early 20th century. Finally she extracted recognition and a medal from the Russians in 2008...
Order of Lomonosov, by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Russian Federation, Moscow, July 8. First public recognition by the Russian Federation that Dr. Patricia J. Thompson is indeed the American daughter of the Russian poet, Vladimir Vladimirovitch Mayakovsky.
Added her Russian name, Yelena Vladimirovna Mayakovskya, to her vita.
Her out-of-print textbook, "Self, Space & Shelter," (blogged about HERE ) belongs in today's classroom. I used it for "The Idea of Home," class I developed for Ron's department. Published in 1977, too early for attention to co-housing which I included in 1989. My urban, African-American students found this idea of home not to their liking. Their dream was of suburbia.
Back to the goddesses needed in our 21st century lives. Today's post was stimulated by a cartoon on Facebook about Hygeia, Greek goddess of Wellness.
On my way to early morning appointment for physical therapy. Doors open, she appears...
Unexpected sighting in my dignified retirement community. "Could I take another photo?"
Halloween party so early? Sauvie Island, she replied with a laugh and a smile. It was the last day of the island's annual haunted corn maize a Portland native explained.
When I returned in the afternoon, another witch in the lobby!
The night before Jeanette Charbon of Eldercare Consultants spoke about "Aging Gracefully." She encouraged a bit more attention to what we eat (7 to 9 servings of fruit/vegetables would be ideal) and the way to relax via mindfulness. Most striking though was the window she opened onto the power of laughter. She herself had a great, infectious laugh. Brought out our own lightness.
Delightful to have less propriety: old people having a good time on Halloween.
Talk about timing. This is the week the Oregonian reduces home delivery to four days a week, transforms itself into a "digitally focused company."
And this morning, I opened my door to...only the New York Times. Did those ultra-conservatives who own this sad little paper know they could obscure the Republican misadventure by coordinating the government shutdown with the first day of no home delivery? Oh, these folks are so very clever.
Sunday I opened the door of our apartment to find these two--
Leading story, "Not your typical party chief" featured the state Republican party's choice of new chair. Art Robinson, believer in Christian home-schooling as the only defense against the failure of public schools, major skeptic on global warming, critic of homosexuality, actually has degrees in chemistry. And a hedge fund billionaire backer in New York. Watch for him as v-p candidate when Ted Cruz runs for president.
But wait! I like reading the Oregonian. A number of excellent columnists help me learn about this curious northwestern corner of America, my last stop on earth. In the realignment some have been fired, replaced by younger (read cheaper) reporters with more online savvy.
I have read newspapers all my life wherever I've lived. St. Louis, Oberlin, New York, Albuquerque, Jersey City, Baltimore, New York--think that's most of them. There was much sadness when New Orleans' Times Picayune shrunk a couple of years ago: it had been such a shining star during and after Katrina. Not much has been written about the fading Oregonian and its awful website.
But it's all we've got and every town needs a daily.
Bill McKibben narrates a short, mellow video, "Dance of the Honey Bees." Planning an evening program for my retirement community about what's happening with bees, my search for resources turned this up on a Bill Moyers show. Sadly it ends with the dark side about honey bee demise. The link is from TruthOut, with transcript included along with a pledge you can sign to let Bayer (aspirin company) know you want them to stop killing bees.
In this country the XL pipleline and fracking currently take front and center in the media. Speaking for the bees, the voices we hear in the U.S. are largely beekeepers and farmers and there are many in Oregon. Tom Foster, a neighbor of mine, had bee hives, sold honey before he moved here.
We're working on a program for June. Following his own deep history with bees--his father and grandfather were also beekeepers in the Northwest--we'll show a 20-minute excerpt from "Vanishing of the Bees." We hope to stimulate bee-connected interests among our members to buy local honey, maybe consider a bee hive on the roof of our building (where we grow tomatoes). Or, more modestly, borrow my copy of Foodopoly by the Wenoah Hauter, Exec Director of Food & Water Watch.
This informative and engaging 90-minute documentary, produced in the U.K., will be shown in Albuquerque, New Mexico in the next week. For a delightful, funkier take, an American one, try "Queen of the Sun." I'm hoping to find others as fascinated by bees as myself, an urban person moved to think more about the earth since connecting with a backyard in mid-20th century Baltimore.
Published in The New Yorker, April 13, 2009; on my bulletin board since then.
On a spring day in Portland, Oregon, I celebrate meeting my spouse in Manhattan. March 1966, a large, airless room at a counseling conference in the Commodore Hotel. He was presenting; I was in the audience determined to get my question answered. He took me for an ice cream soda at a nearby Schrafft's on 42nd Street.. It was a lovely day; we walked twenty blocks south.
We lived four blocks apart--Ron in a classic 8-story 1930s building--one-bedroom, rent-controlled ($110) on East 24th. Mine was a smaller
studio ($160), in a new 21-story high-rise. We married in his apartment October 29, 1966--the same year NOW began. The word "femnism" was not in my vocabulary at the time. We disagreed on the war in Vietnam. We moved quickly toward working on equality between women and men--and being very opposed to the "American war," as it's known in Vietnam.
Two children, four grandchilddren, several moves--Oberlin, Ohio then Baltimore, Maryland, then back to New York City before landing in Portland.
The Commodore, built in 1919, was renovated inside and out in 1980. Unrecognizable to us in its current state. Schrafft's is gone. We are still New Yorkers in spirit, almost 50 years later, in Portland, Oregon.
Oh, it is a challenge to keep batting away like summer mosquitoes our national bad news. Especially when I start the day by reading the local, daily newspaper. The Oregonian shapes its content to appeal to dwellers on some far-off planet. Many of them live right here in oppostion to the trendy, very young and hip types celebrated on Portlandia.
If mine were one of those everybody-reads-blogs on Huffington Post, I'd run a contest to name the group of dailies across America that ignore/disparage all ideas sensible people hold dear...gun control, CHOICE, climate change. I wish Rachel Maddow, an excellent "namer" would come up with something. See her post "This Week in God" for the latest on a a favorite category she calls, "the God Machine."
However, in the tradition of What Would Rachel Maddow Do? Let's turn to my good news. As privileged old lady and man, we take advantage of our reasonably good health (thank you Medicare and Maryland retirement system) and disposable income to go to the theater often. [Too many disclaimers but often have company at Hattie's Web. Especially today it turns out.] Since we're drawn to what we knew in New York as "off" and "off-off Broadway," the cost of the habit is reasonable.
"The Road to Mecca," presented in a small space by Profile Theater was one of three we've seen in the last week. (Overdosing due to baby-sitting schedule.) Glorious photo by Jamie Bosworth; enlarge it to see the perfect set--worn rugs, many glass bottles on tables, hanging from above.
It was invigorating to be with actress Eileen DeSandre, who embodies aging perfectly as Miss Helen, the central character, has found her own bliss through non-traditional art-making. Of course, I could very much identify with that. Though South African playwright Athol Fugard writes about his own country, it could be mine. The other two actors played parts familiar to many of us. There was Elsa, played by Amanda Solden, the young friend, both powerful and gentle, who wants Miss Helen to embody personal strength she seeks in herself. David Bodin was an oppressive church minister, determined to convince Miss Helen to move to an old people's home. He had more dimension than we'd expected as he ultimately revealed a softer side wrapped in his judgemental exterior.
Talkback. As I've written elsewhere, Ron and I gravitate toward these. How else can strangers in a city, women and men who may never meet again, share our pleasure, our questions about a theatrical experience. Last night's included two of the actors, the young director (how do they have so much insight so early), and Katy Liljeholm, Artistic Director of Well Arts, an arts-in-medicine nonprofit theatre company. "Voices of Elders" is one of their life-review projects at a local senior center.
We were a most suitable audience for her: a mostly over 50 group, mostly women, with much to relate to about our own roads to Mecca. Great evening...preceded by that other thing Portland does well: FOOD, delicious, moderately priced for happy hour (unknown to us in New York), a short walk from the theater at Accanto.
Images that match ideas for writing hang out on my desktop. The local tech suggests that fewer of these could improve the computer's function. They are too important to an old lady's memory bank to hide.
When both our children were in school, I entered a fulltime program in social work at the University of Maryland. Graduating in1976, I thought there'd be a job where I could do clinical work in a family agency. Now 42 years old with a considerable resume in public relations in New York, the challenge was finding a fit for the next step.
Though I'd done community work and developed innovative workshops in Baltimore, it was another 20th century recession with intense competition for professional placements. It was ten years since I'd worked fulltime.
During social work school I had an internship at Johns Hopkins Hospital and had an exhilarating experience with another younger student. We designed a group for relatives and visitors to the Intensive Care Waiting Room. Joe Lynch and I co-led a new collection of anxious people twice a week with anywhere from ten to 25 individuals, wide range of ages, ethniticies. We published about it and hope this would be a model for Hopkins to us with other grad students--in nursing and other disciplines.
Because Hopkins was not oriented toward group work--something Joe and I discovered when one patient complained-- I was surprised that I was asked to work there. I turned down the offer because social workers were at the bottom of the Hopkins' hierarchy and moving toward less emphasis on clinical services.
When an instructor of mine who was an exceptional clinician at another hospital, offered me a position, I was tempted. She explained I'd start at the same level as 22 year olds recent grads in spite of my past employment. As she explained, "None of that was in social work." My response, "I've just spent two years as 'school student' and I need to feel I'm moving on." That was my ego speaking. Looking back, I think there would have been value in working for her but I was not a fit for a medical setting.
We lived in a three-story house in Baltimore, had two young children. The house was not one we'd have chosen but was what we could afford--$30,000 in 1971. Twelve rooms on 3/4 acres with a 200 year-old black walnut in the front yard, built in 1923. The smaller places we'd seen were more costly.
Houses were cheap in that city after the 1968 riots. We'd arrived in '69 from Oberlin, Ohio, a small college town where we lived for a dizzying two years like others on college campuses in the late sixties. Our best experience, the birth of Rachel, our first child, was shadowed by Martin Luther King's assassination eleven days before her birth.
At lunch with a friend from school I was asked to identify my ideal goal. "Running groups for women," I answered. Building on my experiences with feminist activities--starting Baltimore's Women's Political Caucus with two others, attending N.O.W. meetings in a small room at a local college, strongly influenced by second-wave feminist energy, this seemed my destiny. My friend had focused me: I'd have to begin my own practice.
A few weeks later the phone rang. "A woman I know told me that you are a women's counselor. I'd like to make an appointment." Pulling myself together, I looked at the calendar, and suggested an afternoon time. Of course, I remember J, first of many.
Late fall 1976, I sat in the rocking chair facing the camera in the top photo. J. sat across from me in the other rocker. She could look out the window behind me onto our back yard. Between us was an oak washstand facing the alley. I kept cash and checks in the drawer. My fee was $15.00, payable each session. One year later I began two women's groups.
We were at grandson's cross country meet a couple of weeks ago. My daughter turned to me, because elections local and national are on our minds, and announced, "There's a movement to write-in Eileen Brady for Mayor." Wonderful to dream of possibilities for the candidate-who-should-have-been rather than the two losers we're left with. Became slightly more engaged on Facebook so could add my "like" to the page someone started there. Made a simple card to hand out.
Zach did very well in his race. I was impressed by the number of girls and boys, Portland public and private schools, 4th and 5th graders, who were eager participants. Let's hear it for Title IX! They had to climb a hill twice and jump over a hay bale to make their way.
Rachel, Zach, and little Eliana (no slouch herself in climbing monkey bars with ease), left to pick up Zoe for her soccer game. Before we left another mother from Zach's school, described her life before Portland. Pretty similar In Brooklyn as she shuttled three children from one activity to another and tried to keep focused as she worked from home. Not much time for politics for these working mothers.
Afterwards Ron and I went to eat always-delicious
Vietnamese food at JADE Teahouse in Sellwood--eggplant and pork
plus a very rich macaroonish dessert. Sort of a reward for hours and hours--primarily his time-- on the phone with prescription plan, Medicare Part D. Very patient Medicare and insurance company people worked to sort out a mistake from last year.
Why are we putting up with all this shuffling of our lives by providers? And we are the fortunate ones who have good healthcare coverage.
************Election Day, November 6, 2012 at 4:30 p.m. (PST)*****************
All of the above was written in October before Sandy, before Halloween. Not posted because I'd thought to write how the U.S. needs something like the Citizens Advice Bureau in the United Kingdom. Begun in 1924, this non-profit "charity" (their word) helps people "resolve their legal, money and other problems by providing free, independent and confidential advice, and by influencing policymakers." First heard about it when I was in social work school in the 1970s as a way the British had developed for people to sort out which government agency could handle their issues.
Now I'm avoiding looking at today's election returns. So much more to think about since the Hurricane but election anxiety gets in the way. More creative avoidance by going tonight to "Seven Guitars" by the late, lamented August Wilson. This is the sixth of his ten plays that explore African-American life in the 20th century. We will travel back to 1948 in Pittsburgh. Beats angsting about whether Obama will be re-elected and New York City's massive recovery problems.
My son and his family are okay in Tarrytown, New York, above the flooded areas. After last summer's Irene storm their co-op decided to install a back-up generator so they have had lights, heat. Roxie even went back to kindergarten on the school bus at the end of last week.