Archive | March 2014

The Proxy

Do You Think Indra Will Like it? Louis Adan, called Emile, Frame gilding workshop. Musée des Beaux-Arts d’Angers

Hmm, perhaps it is special enough to put Der’s portrait in.

This may not be true for others, but moving house always gets me thinking about my personal history. Most of the time, in wrapping up an object, I’ll flash on a memory. They run the gamut, good, bad, happy, sad, ugly, beautiful, romantic, tragic, funny, weird . . . .

The other day I picked up a framed picture of the ocean. I was back in that moment, years ago, when I was sitting on the beach in maui with my family. We had an couple hours between plane changes. So we went to the beach. It was just after sunset. In the warm pink air, with the soft lapping ocean, I thought that moment was perfect. I still do.

Then I looked at the frame. I like to repurpose antique frames, mostly from the 1880s and 1890s. I love a heavily ornamented gilded frame. I like to use them for my favorite memories. When people walk through my place, they can tell right away what’s important, just by the frames.

On the other hand, most people just find my frames insanely inappropriate for the pictures in them. I don’t mind. And that thought, of inappropriate pictures, brought me to a memory from my childhood.

My Catholic grandmother had a friend who’s son was a pastor in one of those large, typically American, happy-clappy churches. She went there sometimes for the fellowship.

Anyway, this friend’s husband died. Even though friend and her husband were technically Lutheran, the memorial service was held at their son’s church. I can’t remember why, probably my gran was minding me and my grandfather couldn’t go with so I was the deputized proxy, but I went with her the day my gran went to the memorial.

The actual burial was held the day before. Thank heaven. So the was just a table with book and picture at the front of the sanctuary. There was a big turn out, over 500 people. It was a very nice memorial, music, video montage, memories, laughter, prayer. Eventually though, it ended.

People start heading for the refreshments (they had great pie) in large herds. After a few minutes, things cleared out significantly and my gran and I finally got a chance to walk down to the front, to the table where the condolences book and the photo of the pastor’s father resided.

My grandmother signed her name, and mine. But me? I couldn’t stop staring at the photo. The father lived a long life. I’m sure there were plenty of photos the family could have used. Why this one?

Later I overheard someone say the photo was selected because the father had been proud of military service. Still, even though I can understand that, I wouldn’t want my friends, family, and parishoners’ lasting memory of my father to be of him young and smiling — in a Luftwaffe uniform.

Like I said, weird memories.

Life can be golden

The only gold people really need.

The only gold people really need.

My job with Piccolo unexpectedly ended on Friday, well, not totally unexpectedly.

Pic hates analytical work, so he thought would take another six weeks. I like it, so I never thought would.

I’ve been tying up loose ends, sleeping, and packing this weekend.  I should be with Der by Palm Sunday, if not before. Although he’ll be off in Belgium, which is probably good. It gives the animals a chance to settle in and get familiar with his scent.

My grandmother is a bit upset she’s losing her personal attendant, but realistically, it’s probably good for her. She needs to make better choices with her health and having me around to call on doesn’t help.

She chose to stop driving and ended up losing her license, because I was around to drive her. I warned her, but she didn’t listen. Too, she’s getting a bit forgetful, because she doesn’t eat right or exercise appropriately. She could, she simply chooses not to.

I feel a bit guilty leaving, but my parents say I shouldn’t, that I’m not responsible for her bad choices and she might make better ones when I leave. Or maybe not. But either way, it’s not my responsibility.

I have to say the whole experience here has made me feel more responsible for me. I have begun to make better choices and be more aggressively independent because I can see where bad choices and giving up even a bit of independence leads.

That probably all sounds strange when I about to go walkabout and exist on the kindness strangers, but I see it more as me, on my own, finding out more about me and what I want out of life.

And now I have to go feed my goldfish, because I am responsible for them!


The unexpected invite


Because I’m shortly to be between jobs and homes, Der suggested I come spend the summer with him.

Yes, of course, that’s a proposal fraught with all manner of implication, but we have a very casual, open relationship. In reality, he’s offered me some rooms, as any respectable host would, and not necessarily his own. But we’ll see what happens.

Shortly after that, a friend in the San Juan Islands asked if I wanted to come for an extended stay? She’s a older than I am, and the offer comes with a string attached: help painting up and fixing the house. But I wouldn’t mind that.

Right after that happened, a third friend, in rural-ish Ireland, asked if I would like to come house-sit for three months while she’s away on business. Rent free, all inclusive! Lovely!

The upshot is, I might just take six  or with months and be that tried and true 18th century literary standard: the peripatetic house guest, who is typically less than rich, unmarried, and an old maid (over 18).

But for me, it’s a chance to wander the world and meet new people. And since everyone says my pets would be welcome as well, why not?

Just one of those things


Vermilion is one of those colors once seen, never forgotten. It can be exceedingly subtle or ridiculously obstreperous.

I love vermilion, true vermilion, made of mercury sulfide, even though it comes with all manner of warning label and can be tricky to work with.

But lately, vermilion has been elusive — even if one is willing to drop a Franklin for a 30 ml tube. As a result, some of my projects have had to be put on hold.

It wasn’t my fault. Amazingly, I did the responsible thing. I ordered some genuine vermilion oil paint on Dec 31, well ahead of when I expected to need it.

I was told it would ship Jan 8 because it was back ordered, and I would have it January 14. As it was only two weeks, I thought, fine.

Two weeks later I was sent an email. My vermilion was still back ordered and now would be sent March 5th!

On March 14th, just as I was getting my hopes up it was due on my doorstep shortly, I was sent another email. The vermilion was still back ordered and would now ship April 26th.

It may seem odd to wait 4 months (or possibly more) for a tube a paint. But vermilion is worth it, and the upside of all this waiting is it’s made me realize that there are things worth waiting for, and things not.

To that end, I emailed my publisher and asked that all my books be removed from the catalog. I don’t want to write or be involved in writing or publishing anymore.

Nothing wrong, but I’ve had my fun. Now, I want to do other fun things.

For my writer friends


It’s one thing waiting for the Muse, but if you’re at your desk the Muse knows where to find you.

This is why I don’t do inspiration or creative blogs. I just do the work, and hope for the best.

Because the difficult thing is to keep yourself open to the moment.

The trick is to keep yourself vulnerable and true, and this can be really tiring after a while. It can hurt, quite literally.

But if you do it properly — and it’s hard to do it properly — then the book will find its mark.

If it’s a real book, written for the right reasons, and with enough skill, then it will find its time and its readers.

It’ll be its own kind of success.

Anne Enright, Irish author, speaking on BBC4 Radio’s The Value of Failure.

It’s called an umbrella


Major rain storms recently passed through my area. I adore the rain, so it was a fine opportunity to break out the mackintosh, boots, and umbrella.

The funny part was, I never saw another person in a rain coat or carrying an umbrella. Never.

I’m not sure if we’ve been without rain so long in this area everyone completely forgot there are accoutrements to protect one from H2O, but there were an amazing number of bedraggled and besoaked beings wandering around. I almost felt sorry for them.



That red carpet walk

But can she walk like a lady?

It’s not an insult if it’s true.

One of my friends, Bryant, recently had heard a radio show where a famous comedienne was asked to watch a  Oscar-winning comedy she had never seen.

She watched 5 minutes, and turned it off. She gave the experience a 0 out of 10. She called the film inane and so sexist and demeaning to women it was impossible to watch.

The film was Some Like It Hot. To be fair, it’s 60 years old.

This made Bryant wonder: is there a point at which a film, how ever lauded in its day, is just no good anymore? And if so, is it more about the material or the age of the film?

Last night he gathered about 20 of us together to watch an older movie none of us had seen before but which had won a best picture Oscar, Titanic. It’s about 20 years old and is set in a by-gone age.

Reactions were mixed.

Everyone agreed, worth the price of a ticket. But no one felt it was a monumentally great film.  It had too many flaws, of every kind.

Let’s face it, if one is intent on making a profit off the horrific death of 1514 people, it’s important to get things right. They didn’t.

At any rate, I’m not sure Bryant got his answer. I’ll have to attend other screenings and read the PhD thesis later.

I will say that I did enjoy all the actors’ performance and the love story. And I’m glad Rose never became a society lady. Beauty that she was, she walked like a plow pony.