Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year... REALLY!

Turkey; "Standing on Head, Doing the Splits"
I have a lot to be grateful for this New Years Eve. Even though there is a truck size poop still clogging our toilet & my boy continues to eat jars of peanut butter & whatever else he can get his hands on, he is a marvelous gift; teaching me everyday about patience, compassion, humor & JOY. He just turned 14 & spent his very first nights away from home this past summer at Kiwana's Camp.

At our family Boxing Day celebration a week ago, most commented on how much he has grown & matured this past year. He asked my niece Ellie, "How are you liking college?" I discovered them having a REAL conversation in about this & that & it made my heart soar.

We're also buying a new house through Habitat for Humanity by the grace of volunteers who are willing to help put a roof over the heads. I'm learning, at age 55, how to build a house from the bottom up.

Our boy was in serious trouble this past summer, hospitalized with a sinus infection that almost reached his brain. My dear friend, a writer, just came through chemo which left her fingertips wracked with painful neuropathy as she attempted to type & her life is forever changed. She wore a blond wig over bald head & a slinky gown over missing breast & toasted those at a party for those who helped her through on Solstice Eve.

We're alive. Life is good. Happy New Year! xo

Saturday, December 7, 2013

My Blogging Lag & St. Paul's Church Tiffany Interiors

I've missed blogging here, but I the good news is that due to putting in hours to move into a new Habitat house soon & a busy holiday season selling on Etsy, I haven't had the time! One way I am earning 'sweat equity' hours is through managing our local Habitat for Humanity Etsy shop, so check it out here!


I was just looking at photos of stained glass on Etsy & came across some from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Troy, New York. I thought they looked like some Tiffany windows I had seen & sure enough when I looked them up on Wiki I found out the following:

"St Paul's is unusual because all aspects of the interior design are based on a concept by the Tiffany Company: chandeliers, glass mosaics, tile work, a glass jeweled altar rail, a baptistery of wood & plaster filigree, decorative stenciling of the ceiling, walls & organ pipes, pews & support members & stunning windows by Tiffany artisan J.A. Holzer - indeed, nearly all the interior elements. As such it is a fully integrated interior design; only four such churches done by the Tiffany Company have survived intact & St. Paul’s is arguably the finest expression of this concept."

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Antikythera Mechanism: A 2000 Year Old Eclipse Predictor

'The Antikythera Mechanism is a complex geared mechanism that is over 2000 years old. The remains of the device were first discovered in 1902, when an archaeologist noticed a heavily corroded gear wheel amongst artifacts recovered by sponge divers from a sunken Roman cargo ship. The ship was en route from the Greek island of Rhodes to Rome when it sank off the island of Antikythera, between Kythera & Crete. It is thought to be dated from 150 to 100 BC. & that it could possibly be the work of the great astronomer Hipparchus.

The mechanism, often described as the world's first mechanical computer, was used to calculate & display astronomical cycles & to accurately predict lunar & solar eclipses. The mechanism is technically more complex than any known device constructed for at least a millennium afterwards & is the first known instrument to use geared teeth within gears!'

Friday, November 1, 2013

A Halloween Story

This seems like an appropriate day to relay the story of Annie, the CPR dummy. I like to listen to historical ghost stories on NPR & came across this on Radio Lab. (See link below)

"Near the end of the 19th century, a mysterious young woman with a beguiling smile turned up in Paris. She became a huge sensation. She also happened to be dead. You'd probably recognize her face yourself. You might have even touched it.

Long ago, death masks were a common way of preserving the faces of famous people; surviving clay molds were made of Napoleon, Beethoven & Lincoln. One of the most famous death masks was of a woman who wasn't famous at all, while she was alive. Her face, known simply as "L'inconnue de la Seine", (the unknown woman of the Seine), eventually found her way into classrooms across Europe & eventually the United States.

In 1960, an Austrian named Dr. Peter Safar was just developing the basics of CPR & needed a way for people to practice his new method. He tracked down a talented toy maker in Norway named Asmund Laerdal, who had constructed prosthetic wounds for use in military training. Little did Laerdal know that Safer had a compelling, personal reason for getting involved. Laerdal decided the best way to learn artificial resuscitation would be to practice on a 'dummy' & all he needed was the perfect face......"

Listen to Podcast:

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Required Reading

Last Friday, after my son Gabe had been back at school for all of 10 days, I picked him up & his nose was running. When we got home I went to bed for 3 days. I wasn't being over dramatic, but did feel hopelessly like I was living a sick version of the movie Groundhog Day. The poor kid went through this same damn thing LAST September, then in December, then March, culminating in a two week hospitalization in June; his head blown up like a balloon with a sinus infection we feared had gone in to his brain.
I used to be a Psychology Professor in a previous life & the article below was required reading. Andrea Yates was made infamous by drowning her kids during her progressively worsening postpartum PSYCHOSIS, (not postpartum depression; a HUGE difference). She had five children under the age of seven, because her & her husband believed they were,"to have as many children as God wanted us to have." She's now sitting in a psychiatric hospital for the rest of her life, while her husband divorced her & went on to marry & have more children. :  / 

Playing God On No Sleep 

By Anna Quindlan

So a woman walks into a pediatrician's office. She's tired, she's hot & she's been up all night throwing sheets into the washer because the smaller of her two boys has projectile vomiting so severe it looked like a special effect from "The Exorcist." Oh, & she's nauseated too, because since she already has two kids under the age of 5 it made perfect sense to have another, & she's four months pregnant. In the doctor's waiting room, which sounds like a cross between an orchestra tuning loudly & a 747 taking off, there is a cross-stitched sampler on the wall. It says GOD COULD NOT BE EVERYWHERE SO HE MADE MOTHERS.

This is not a joke & that is not the punch line. Or maybe it is. The woman was me, the sampler real & the sentiments it evoked were unforgettable: incredulity, disgust & that out-of-body feeling that is the corollary of sleep deprivation & adrenaline rush, with a soupcon of shoulder barf thrown in. I kept reliving this moment & others like it, as I read with horrified fascination the story of Andrea Yates, a onetime nurse suffering from postpartum depression who apparently spent a recent morning drowning her five children in the bathtub. There is a part of my mind that imagines the baby, her starfish hands pink beneath the water, or the biggest boy fighting back, all wiry arms & legs & then veers sharply away, aghast, appalled.

But there's another part of my mind, the part that remembers the end of a day in which: the milk spilled phone rang one cried another hit a fever rose the medicine gone the car sputtered another cried the cable out "Sesame Street" gone all cried out stomach upset full diaper no more diapers Mommy I want water Mommy my throat hurts Mommy I don't feel good. Every mother I've asked about the Yates case has the same reaction. She's appalled; she's aghast, & then she gets this look. The look says that at some forbidden level she understands. The looks says that there are two very different kinds of horror here. There is the unimaginable idea of the killings, & then there is the entirely imaginable idea of going quietly bonkers in the house with five kids under the age of seven.

The insidious cult of motherhood is summed up by the psychic weight of the sampler on that doctor's wall. We are meant to be all things to small people, surrounded by bromides & soppy verse & smiling strangers who talk about how lucky we are. We are lucky. My children have been the making of me as a human being, which does not mean they have not sometimes been an overwhelming & mind-boggling responsibility. That last is the love that dare not speak its name, the love that is fraught with fear & fatigue & inevitable resentment. But between the women who cannot have children & sometimes stare at our double strollers grief-stricken & the grandmothers who make raising eight or ten sound like a snap & insist we micromanage & over-analyze, there is no leave to talk about the dark side of being a surrogate deity, omniscient & out of milk all at the same time.

The weight was not always so heavy. Once the responsibility was spread around extended families, even entire towns. The sociologist Jessie Bernard had this to say: "The way we institutionalize motherhood in our society--assigning sole responsibility for child care to the mother, cutting her off from the easy help of others in an isolated household, requiring round-the clock tender, loving care & making such care her exclusive activity--is not only new & unique, but not even a good way for either women or--if we accept as a criterion the amount of maternal warmth shown--for children. It may, in fact, be the worst."

It has gotten no better since those words were uttered 25 years ago. Worse, perhaps, with all the competing messages about what women should do & be & feel at this particular moment in time. Women not working outside their homes feel compelled to make their job inside it seem both weighty & joyful; women who work outside their homes for pay feel no freedom to be ambivalent because of the sub rosa sense that they are cutting parenting corners. All of us are caught up in a conspiracy in which we are both the conspirators & the victims of the plot. In the face of all this "M" is for the million things she gave me" mythology, it becomes difficult to admit that occasionally you lock yourself in the bathroom just to be alone.

Friday, September 13, 2013

What a DIVINE Treat! YOYO 1965

In the vein of Fellini, Chaplin, Tati & Lloyd, YOYO could have been made in the 1920's or today, but is actually from a delightful series of black & white films made by Pierre Etaix in the 60's. 

'A French comedy master whose films went unseen for decades as a result of legal tangles, director & actor Pierre Etaix is a treasure the cinematic world has rediscovered & embraced with relish. His work can be placed on the spectrum of classic physical comedy, but it also stands alone in its good natured delicacy. Influenced by his experiences as a circus acrobat, clown & by the silent film comedies he adored, his movies are elegantly deadpan while radiating warmth. YOYO is collaboration with the great screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière & is not anything less than a bracing & witty delight.'

Monday, September 9, 2013

Worth Another Look: Exit Through the Gift Shop

In the vein of Where's Waldo, 'Exit Through the Gift Shop' asks, Who's the graffiti ARTIST? Theirry Guttah? Mr. Brainwash? Bansky? AndyWarhol? ANYBODY?

One consistent theme in the reviews was the authenticity of the film: Was the film just an elaborate ruse on Banksy's part, or did Guetta really evolve into Mr. Brainwash overnight?  Glen Friedman, a prominent American photographer, successfully sued Guetta over the use of a photograph of the rap group Run DMC. French journalist Marjolaine Gout linked Mr. Brainwash with Jeff Koons & criticized Thierry Guetta's art as toilet papering.

More questions then answers, but a hell of an entertaining ride! Try it! You'll like it! 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Woman III HUH?

Woman III is a painting by abstract expressionist painter Willem de Kooning. Woman III is one of 6 paintings by Kooning in which the central theme was a woman. It measures 68 by 48 1/2 inches and was completed in 1953. In November 2006, the painting was sold by David Geffen to billionare Steven A. Cohen for $137.5 million, making it the second most expensive painting ever sold.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

La Maison Picassiette Festival of Lights: Chartres, France

"Raymond Isidore, the original house owner, began to build his house in 1930 & eight years later in 1938, he started to decorate his little house in mosaic. He was walking in the field when suddenly he was attracted by the flickering colors of tiny pieces of glass, porcelain & crockery. He collected & piled them in his garden. For this reason, he earn a mockery name as Picassiette means Pique (steal) assiette (plate). Some people define Picassiette as Picasso Assiette."  Feily Puspita

Since 1996, an international meeting of mosaics has been held every two years in Chartres. This event welcome the mosaic artists from 15 nations to win the awards - Prix Picassiette for professionals, amateurs insiders, amateurs & youths group categories. The next Prix Picassiette will be held in 2014 & I HOPE TO BE THERE!

 Chartres Cathedral Festival of Lights
Autumn Equinox September 21-22 2013

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Post Pope Letdown

I'm not a Catholic, but I do feel a connection to the only western church that has some grounding in ritual, recognizes Godliness in lay women & men who can & do become saints & to the obvious veneration of Mary who is rarely even mentioned in other forms of Christianity.

When Francis recently became the Pope, I got downright giddy when I heard he was asking us to remember the poor, the downtrodden & to even have compassion & acceptance of GAYS! Whoa.

Then he tried to send me & more then half of the human race back into our corner of oppression. It's o.k. not to have women priests because it is not in the original 'doctrine' & Jesus was a man. Huh?

What a shame & what would Jesus have to say about this? What a shame to be present & affirming to men & children, but not to women. What a damn shame.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Women I Admire! xo

Sade 54
Judy Dench 78
Frida Kahlo Died age 47

Tina Turner 73
Anna Quindlen 61
Joni Mitchell 69

Michelle Obama 49
Helen Mirren 67

Annie Lennox 58
Beyonce 31

Georgia O'Keefe died at 99
Melissa McCarthy 42
Tina Fey 43

Peg Shapiro 60
Angela May 54
Adele 25
Lori & Corbin 43

Florence Welch 26
Tilda Swinton 52

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Astonishing Range of Chagall

Marc Chagall was born Moishe Segal into a Jewish family in Liozona, Belerus, while still part of the Russian Empire in 1887. At the time of his birth, half the population of his town was Jewish. Although picturesque, the city was built mostly of wood so little
of it survived the years of occupation & destruction during World War II. He was the eldest of nine children & his father, Khatskl Shagal, was employed by a herring merchant, while his mother, Feige-Ite, sold groceries from their home. Although poor, there was always enough food to eat & the family was close.

A turning point of his artistic life came when he noticed a fellow student drawing. Chagall would later say that there was no art of any kind in his family's home & the concept was totally alien to him. When Chagall asked the schoolmate how he learned to draw, his friend replied, "Go & find a book in the library, idiot, choose any picture you like & just copy it." He soon began copying images from books & found the experience so rewarding he then decided he wanted to become an artist.

"He had two basic reputations," writes Lewis, "as a pioneer of modernism and as a major Jewish artist. He experienced modernism's golden age in Paris, where he synthesized the art forms of Cubism, Symbolism & Fauvism & the influence of Fauvism gave rise to Surrealism". Yet throughout these phases of his style "he remained most emphatically a Jewish artist, whose work was one long dreamy reverie of life in his native village of Vitebsk."

Years later, at the age of 57 while living in America, Chagall confirmed this when he published an open letter entitled, To My City Vitebsk: "Why? Why did I leave you many years ago? You thought, the boy seeks something, seeks such a special subtlety, that color descending like stars from the sky & landing, bright & transparent, like snow on our roofs. Where did he get it? How would it come to a boy like him? I don't know why he couldn't find it with us, in the city—in his homeland. Maybe the boy is "crazy" but "crazy" for the sake of art. ...You thought: "I can see, I am etched in the boy's heart, but he is still 'flying,' he is still striving to take off, he has 'wind' in his head." I did not live with you, but I didn't have one single painting that didn't breathe with your spirit and reflection.

Although he traveled the world creating set designs, cathedral windows & opera house ceilings,  a copius collection of treasured art displayed in museums & private collections around the world & experienced the horrors of Nazism & the premature death of his beloved wife, there remains a freshness & innocence to his work that creates, in me, infectious smiles & warmth.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


This is my lovely son Gabriel who is 3 years old in the top picture & 13 in the bottom. It's difficult to tell from his happy smile that by the time the first one had been taken, he had been born with a lack of oxygen at birth; hospitalized for dehydration, reflux, eye surgery, adnoids out, ear tubes in & seizures. He had also been diagnosed with mental retardation & initially with ADHD, (which really turned out to be bipolar disorder), tourette's & OCD.

The thing about Gabe is none of this matters. He has been smiling since he left the womb & is an absolute savior & gift to everyone who is lucky enough to cross his path. We live in a very small community & I have not been Diane & his dad has not been Greg for a very long time..... we're Gabe's mom & dad.  He's in a teenager's body with a cognitive age of about 5 years behind that, which definitely keeps life interesting.

Gabe spent the better part of the last two weeks in Children's Hospital with what started as sinusitis in his nose, that spread to his eye & required around the clock antibiotics. He came home briefly but was back in the hospital the next day because his eye started to swell up again & one shoulder 'locked' into a weird position up towards his ears. Freaked the Doctors out, so Greg got in his car with an emergency pass for the ferry & went back. He finally got another CAT scan at 10pm & a bed by 1:30am with more IV antibiotics. They HAD been afraid that he was exhibiting signs that the infection had leaked into his BRAIN, but it hadn't, Thank God.

It was the weirdest thing when I found out he had to go back again. I told Greg he had to take him because I could NOT get my head around it. I just went completely FLAT. I could not feel a THING & I did NOT want to go back to the hospital. I called 3 close friends who all said I should probably follow them over, but finally called my therapist. She drove right over & we talked it through & she told me it was o.k NOT to go right away. THEN I started bawling. I hadn't had a decent night's sleep in days &  went to that child place of being paralyzed by exhaustion & it took her to tell me my feelings were o.k.

Long story, but a few days later when he was home again the Doctors were calling by 8am to get him to come back in for a check up, but I never called them back. Gabe has been SUCH a trooper for almost 2 weeks now that we just got in the car & drove to an animal rescue place he likes to go to & hung out like normal people. He tired easily & slept all the way home, but he was fine. It was so great to not feel fear & dread for a change.

Theo van Rysselberghe - Pointillism

" The practice of Pointillism is in sharp contrast to the traditional methods of blending pigments. Pointillism is analogous to the four-color CMYK printing process used by some color printers & large presses that place dots of Cyan (blue), Magenta (red), Yellow, & Key (black). Televisions & computer monitors use a similar technique to represent image colors using Red, Blue & Green (RGB) colors.
If red, blue & green light  are mixed, the result is something close to white light. Painting is inherently subtractive,  but pointillist colors often seem brighter than typical mixed subtractive colors. This may be partly because subtractive mixing of the pigments is avoided & partly because some of the white canvas may be showing between the applied dots. The painting technique used for pointillist color mixing is at the expense of the traditional brushwork used to delineate texture." Wickapedia

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Life is What Happens....

......when we're making plans. I have missed blogging here, but am making do on my son's I Pad since my laptop bit the dust a few months ago. Running a business on a little tap screen is tedious & I'm afraid I'm spoiled & miserable while I count pennies needed for a new MacBook. So, I will return, sooner then later I hope......

Friday, April 19, 2013

No Place On Earth

NO PLACE ON EARTH brings to light the untold story of 38 Ukrainian Jews who survived World War II by living in caves for 18 months, the longest-recorded sustained underground survival. Built upon interviews with former cave inhabitants, as well as Chris Nicola, the caving enthusiast who unearthed the story, NO PLACE ON EARTH is an extraordinary testament to ingenuity, willpower and endurance against all odds.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

"Norurting Helinn Love"

Scarlett Lewis walked into her home a few weeks after her son Jesse, age six, was murdered at Newtown. There on the the kitchen chalkboard was a message from Jesse, written before he died. "Norurting Helinn Love" or Nurturing Healing Love, spelled phonetically.

"My nickname for Joey was Lollipop because she was sweet, round & sticky. Joey was autistic & had apraxia, which made her unable to speak. She was my life's work. .... I have to take all this energy & help other children who have special needs. We want the world to know about her life. She was amazing & now we want to keep her love going." Bob & Michelle Gay

"She sends me signs. One day I found two tiny white flowers on the floor. All I could think was, "Catherine your wings are beautiful."