Saturday, December 31, 2011

Welcome to 2012!

May 2012 be everything good that 2011 was and more besides! Cheers!

Belief 101

I did happen to overhear the following conversation during my visit to The Phillips Collection, and I thought it rife with spiritual ambiguity.

"Oh, no, that's Daniella. She's the tall one. Poor Emily's so short for her age. We all have our fingers cross that Someone upstairs will change that this year. I mean, it ought to be her turn after all. But, whatever, she has such a good attitude about it."

Where would one begin to unpack all that is present in this innocent reflection? What the hell does she believe in? Luck? God? Karma? Fate? Dame Fortuna? All of the above?!

I loved it.

Degas @ The Phillips Collection

One of the truly intimate and wonderful Art Museums in this country is The Phillips Collection here in Washington, D.C. It had been awhile since I'd visited and all the buzz was on their current feature exhibition: "Degas's Dancers at the Barre: Point and Counterpoint." So after leaving my doctor's office on Friday morning, I drove over to see it for myself.

Overall, to be honest, I found the exhibit disappointing. Full discloser, I'm not a rabid Degas fan to begin with, but the works here were not anything to write home about. Honestly. They had to include a room of works by his contemporaries just to fill out the gallery space, as well as, reproductions of photographs, even an area with floor to ceiling mirrors and bars against which little girls made photo ops for their doting parents cell phones. Kitschy but not art. Better works on the subject can be seen a short distance away at the National Gallery of Art--for free.

I did find this drawing interesting. The form and the use of color to define ideas within the composition was lovely.

So there I am, 15 minutes into my visit, and over with this exhibition--and $12.00 poorer for it. So I think, "What the hell. Mights as well see the rest of the old girl for the umpteenth time. Can't hurt." And so off I go into the original Philips mansion exploring.

Best call I've made in a museum in years!

My first amazing discovery was a collection of paintings by Georges Rouault (1871-1958) on the theme of the circus. In college my sexually repressed and oozing art history teacher loved Rouault, and so I have always been repulsed by him out of solidarity for the way I felt about Mr. Knippers. Yet, I was helpless to deny the simple beauty and charm of these paintings. There were probably a dozen or so lining the walls of this room.

The original purpose of the museum was the home of the Phillips. The old sections of the museum clearly reflect their original design functions. You experience art in parlors, alcoves, rooms once used as bedrooms--many still sporting vintage fireplaces, but the most magnificent of the original spaces is the "music room."

The space hosts near weekly concerts of classical, jazz and/or acoustical performances. It also makes an excellent gallery space for larger works. The Phillips Collection's only large El Greco can usually be seen there for example.

Presently, however, it's home to a collection of grand paintings by Augustus Vincent Tack (1870-1949). Not since I was in the Rothko gallery at the Tate Modern Museum in London have I felt to mystified by a collection of paintings in a specific venue coming together to create something holy. And while the Tate experience accentuated the austere in spirituality, this exhibition foments what is rich, grand and ascendant in the pursuit of perfection.

My final discovery came as almost an after thought as I made my way to the gift shop (where I ended up only browsing, but finding nothing worth buying).

Located in a pass-through space between the new stairwell and elevator in the renovated wing and the first floor entry gallery were four beautiful paintings by contemporary Brazilian artist, Jorge Pardo (1963 - ). I'm sure you'll agree, they deserve a better display area. But if they had been someplace else, I might never have been captured by their beauty!

What I'm Watching #282-286

Tonight I watched a collection of 5 short films. I'm sure I've said it before, but it's worth repeating, I LOVE short film as a genre! I really do. The same way I love the short story, or a well crafted poem. To capture an idea, to share a moment, to frame an epiphany or make a statement in any short form is art as amazing to me as any epic novel or opera or symphony.

This collection assembled by Alluvial contains an entry from South Korea, Australia, Spain, the US, and France. Hands down the tightest is "The Postcard" from South Korea. Nothing benefits a short film like attention to detail.

The dog of the batch is Spanish entry "Sístole/Diástole" which really hangs it's hat on a tired cliché threaded through a melodramatic and senseless plot. Watching it, I felt embarrassed for the everyone involved.

The others are fine and altogether worth watching.

Random Quote 138

"Solitude is the richness of self...loneliness is the poverty."

~ May Sarton, 1912 - 1995

Phase One: Done!

After days of turning 20 years of collected fabric scraps and remnants from various projects and dozens of quilts into my best estimate of about 30,000 1.25" x 1.25" squares, the first part of my latest scheming is complete. I now have the start of a palette!

Next is to start playing around with its range and nuances with the present goal of creating a pixelated image. Lord, lord, where does this madness come from!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Fabric Fun!

What I'm Watching #281

Just watched this Brazilian film "Do Começo ao Fim" which tackles the subject of same sex incest. Or more accurately bumps into it. Well acted, yet without much of a story or even really a message.

Two brothers fall in love as children and never stop being in love. Okay. Whatever. Good eye candy.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

What I'm Watching #280

"Sagwan" is a Filipino movie, probably the 5th or 6th one I've seen. They all have a flaming gay character in them--which makes me wonder just what an iconic role flamboyant gay men play in Filipino culture in general. Or perhaps, why I only seem interested in movies from the Philippines that have this stock character as part of the cast!

The larger story is that of 18 year old Alfred who is a virgin and confused and haunted by a dream/memory that centers, like all things in this little village do, around the beautiful Tatalon River. It is simply written, melodramatic and mostly a vehicle for a final scene that is an extended ménage à trois in which Alfred tastes both the love of his long suffering mute girlfriend, Cecilia, and his boyhood best friend, Eman. The latter having only just that same day introduced him to the village's main economic activity, male prostitution.

Plenty of eye candy, but not much else.

LEGO meets F. L. Wright -- Sweet!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tattoo Dreaming Again

Christmas Help

I'm thinking I might need some help taking down the Holiday decorations... Hmmm...

More Gifts?!

What? Another unexpected gift! This time "The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Volume 1" by hitRECord and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I've followed this project for months and there is no way that my friend could have know this. It's just a real gift that he knows me so well.

Tiny stories, indeed!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Another Gift!

Another great gift arrived out of the blue, this one all the way from Wuxi, China! I am a great fan of giving gifts. While I try not to ignore my friends, I especially enjoy sending off things to people who don't expect anything from me. Also friends for the most part, but not inner circle friends.

So the great joy of this Christmas is that I have just received this wonderful gift, as well as, another one, from two friends who are dear to me, but neither of whom I sent anything tangible to this year. I would love to think that there is an economy of generosity in the Universe such that the more we give, the more giving will occur and on some unfathomable chain of consequences our giving will come back to us in kind. Call that my religion!

Soup & Cold Rain

Hard to imagine what goes together better than a cold wintery rainy day and a pot of hot simmering homemade soup!

Sometimes the best soup just happens like the arrival of an unexpected guest. This one was a tossing together of stuff--the result of raiding the pantry and fridge.

I start with a broth made from chicken bouillons. Next I tossed in the following ingredients in this order:

1 medium onion, diced
4 carrots, pealed and sliced
1/2 a Red Pepper, diced (found in fridge)
2 pre-cooked Ham steaks, cubed
Fresh ground black pepper
3 cloves of Garlic, thinly sliced into disks
2 large Zucchini, cubed
1 generous dollop of Olive Oil, (1 tablespoon)
2 large Jalapeño's, diced
1/2 head of Taiwanese Cabbage, chopped into 1" squares
2 cans of dices tomatoes cooked with Garlic, Basil and Oregano
Kosher salt to taste.

Monday, December 26, 2011

One Man's Trash... another's waste basket art!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Breakfast Casserole



1 pound broccoli florets
1 box cheddar and garlic flavored croutons
1 pound breakfast sausage, cooked and crumbled
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 medium shallot, diced
1 small red pepper, diced
7 large eggs
2 1/2 cups organic half & half
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
coarsely ground black pepper to taste

NOTE: half & half and water can be substituted with 4 cups of milk


1. Lightly grease a 2-quart casserole, or a 9" x 13" pan. Blanch the broccoli florets by boiling briefly, for about 2 minutes. Remove from the water and set aside to cool.

2. Combine together the croutons, cooked sausage, broccoli, red pepper, shallot and cheddar cheese mixing thoroughly. Spread out into casserole or baking dish.

3. Whisk together the eggs, milk, water, salt, mustard, nutmeg and pepper. Pour slowly over the other ingredients, pushing the bread down into the liquid. Make sure that all of the croutons are making enough contact with the liquid to absorb it over time. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

4. When you're ready to bake, take the casserole out of the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the casserole, uncovered, for 80-90 minutes. The casserole will be done when the top is golden and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to stand and cool for about 10 minutes. Serve warm.

This recipe was inspired by one found on the King Arthur Flour website.

Bon Appetit!

It's A White Christmas After All!

I awoke with a twinge of sadness. Lifting the blinds, all I can see is a cold dormant world painted with the browns and grays of naked trees and decaying leaves. No snow....

But wait! Opening my first present and, Oh Happy Day! A snowflake! Now, there's a Christmas miracle.

Immediately I placed it in the window next to my desk, and low, what's this? Mr. Cardinal arrives as if on cue to give his once over to this latest inhabitant of my window.

I am pleased to report that he is as delighted by such a perfect and unexpected gift as I!

Merry Christmas to All!

To those who celebrate the birth of Christ;

To those enjoy the shopping, decorating, and eating;

And to those who just get time off to enjoy life!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

What I'm Watching #279

"Pedro" is the story of Pedro Zamora, the young AIDs activist who's short life met both it's zenith and its conclusion with the second season of MTV's "Real World: San Francisco". Written by Dustin Lance Black, who also gave us "Milk" and "Hoover." He cut his screenwriter's teeth on this well crafted story of the life of one of the most important AIDs activists in my lifetime.

The acting is more than adequate. If I had one disappointment it would be with the make-up. The depiction of Pedro at the end was way too hale. We've all seen "Silverlake Life: The View From Here," right? And though, Pedro didn't experience wasting syndrome, he certainly must have looked haggard and worn at the end. To keep that from his bio-pic is to deny the reality of his death in the very apex of expressing it's tragedy.

Still, a real weeper. Kleenex required.

Pedro with his family near the end of his life.

What I'm Watching #278

I should warn that I have amassed a pile of movies to watch, so many more are likely to come in the next few days.

"Go Go Reject" is a delightful little short film that rests on the sincerity of the main character. Actor Heath Daniels pulls it of with just the right amount of kitsch. Bravo! Short films deserve short reviews!

Great Postcards From Great Friends

When you can't travel, it's a great joy to have friends who can!

Merry Christmas/Happy New Year!

THis amazing card arrived today from my friend Lindy who's teaching in Wuxi, China. It comes with both Christmas and New Year's cheer!

Pride Birthdays and Memorials for the Coming Week ~ December 25th to 31st!

Christmas Classic

From the holiday card of a dear friend!

Santa Has Arrived Early!


Friday, December 23, 2011

22 DEC 2011

My 2011 Christmas Memory!

I was headed north on Rte 28 along a little stretch of about a mile between two stoplights. It was clear, just shy of 8 AM. The road is four lanes, two south bound and two north, undivided. On my left there is a neighborhood with an entrance about halfway between the two lights. The right is divided between an area of just demolished homes awaiting a new cluster of condos and an extended set of medical offices built around an extension of "Children's Hospital". A CVS pharmacy anchors the farthest end.

I'd just left the light and crested a hill approaching the entrance to the medical offices. I was the only vehicle in the northbound lanes while a handful of cars were heading toward me on my left in the southbound lanes. I noticed the black sports car come to the entrance of the subdivision casually at first. He came to a rolling stop and then started inching out. I thought, that's odd, and then suddenly he launched through a gap that only he could perceive in the oncoming southbound traffic.

Now here's where things slowed down/sped up, a gazillion jumbled thoughts all blasting into the ecstatic creases of my mind. Is he planning on merging next to me heading north? This isn't happening! He's going straight across to the offices! Oh my God, what's he doing? What's he doing! What's he doing!?!!

Within the space of an eternal second his car was directly in front of me. The last thing I saw before impact was his face sharply turned in my direction, extreme with shock and horror, the penny on the tracks in the grasp of the force of the northbound Acela Commuter Express about to be flattened.

My airbag deployed. And though I held onto the steering wheel, it clearing moved with a force not in my control. I felt the bounce of the curb and then a swift bone-rattling dropping to a walloping jolt as the downward pointing end of my truck slammed into the top of a concrete battlement framing a storm water culvert which launched it still forward with an abruptly altered momentum over a bed of large stones and then halfway up the inner side of the wide storm run. Full stop.

Take a breath. Listen. Airbag. Windshield cracked. Leg hurts. Wrists work. Ankles work. Door won't open. Take a breath. Did I just kill a man?

Seatbelt needs to be unbuckled first, try the door again. Lock broken. Okay. Try handle again and push. Door snaps open part way, enough room, and I get out. A man is running down the embankment. He has a cell phone.

"I'm Stanton," He says, "I'm a doctor. Are you okay?"

My leg is throbbing, but I can stand on it with no acute pain. I don't see any blood stain on my pants. My head is full of pressure--Blood Pressure, I think. I don't know what to say, so I said, "I think so."

He's on the cell phone and saying things about what happened. I hear "Air bags deployed...ambulatory...I'm a doctor...yes, EMS...." There are dsitant sirens, looming sirens, sirens out of nowhere, everywhere. Where am I? What just happened....

I now see a bit of the extent of the damage to my truck, and Stanton takes my arm gently and says that we have to get away from it. Little streams of smoke are rising up from within the crushed engine compartment.

"Can I walk to the top of the embankment? " he asks. I do just that with his help.

At the top, in the parking lot, I see the man I hit. He's lucid and walking and comes over to me and touches my hand with his briefly. I notice how wrinkled his fingers are I look into his eyes, he's so afraid. I almost cry, but I don't. We don't say anything. I want to think that my eyes soften toward him (my heart did), and I don't know what he's thinking, but I am thinking how good it is that he is alive. He limps a short distance away and sits, his right elbow cradled in his left hand. I never see him again.

The Fire truck and EMS ambulance arrive. It's a swarm of activity, everybody is calm and helpful, and then I'm on a stretcher and in the back of the ambulance. A policeman asks for my driver's license, and I give it to him. The BP cuff is on my upper arm; the medical "clothespin" is on my finger. Another EMT shows up in the doorway of the ambulance and hands me my glasses (OMG--I can't read without them and I never even realized I was no longer wearing them!), my brand new lunch bag (a gift received the previous evening at a Holiday Party. What an inaugural journey!), and a letter (A Christmas card actually that I thought I had mailed back in November, but must have fallen out of my bag and the force of the crash dislodged it from it's hiding place.)

Looking at it, I thought, "Better late than never."

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Earth Postage Stamps--World Poets, #1 in a series

Honoring the poets of the world and starting with the Indian poet, Rabindranath Tagore, in the sesquicentennial year of his birth. More to come, not so date dependent.

Close-up of a single stamp.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

You GO Girl!

You BOTH Go!


I have a holiday soiree tomorrow evening and I finally decided on the final gift last Friday. Knowing that I would be cutting it close, I paid way too much for 1-2 day express shipping. Nothing arrived on Monday. So it HAD to get to my place today.

I came home at about 5 PM to discover no package and a FEDEX slip stuck to my door. In the past I have used this method once and the package was left on my stoop. The message was that no one was home when the driver attempted delivery. If I wanted the package tonight I would have to pick it up myself at a FEDEX facility in DC. Actually located in a dicy area of DC, it would not be available any sooner than 7:30 PM. The facility closes at 8:30 PM, giving me a one hour window.

So, I called FEDEX 1-800 # to complain. I was clearly not happy, but I kept my cool and after making it perfectly clear in a very professional way that it was too late for a re-deliver and If I wanted to have it to take to work in the morning, I would have to drive into DC tonight to get it myself--I caught myself and thanked the man on the phone for listening. I told him that I did appreciate what he was telling me.

I then made dinner: steamed broccoli, haricort vert, red peppers, tossed with stewed tomatoes and italian spices, hard boiled eggs and avocado tossed in a light caesar dressing.

At seven I prepared to leave when I heard a rustling at the front door. As I was reaching to open it, I heard the sound of the truck zooming away, and there was my package! Oh, happy day. Oh good and faithful FEDEX man/woman. I am writing an appreciation letter to FEDEX's corporate headquarters and to the storage facility in DC with enough pertinent information that I hope it gets back to the people responsible. The new Brown?--FEDEX!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Earth Postage Stamps--Peacemaker Series #'s 32 through 34

My ultimate goal with this series is to issue 100 stamps honoring people from all over the world who have given of themselves to bring a greater peace to all people, creation.

Here I give you the 32nd, 33rd, and 34th issue in the series.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Teachers I Have Known

I'm inaugurating a new series of memoirs dedicated to my "teachers". And I start this set of reflections with a most unlikely candidate in some ways. She was only my teacher for one quarter of my 7th grade year. She taught Home Economics in a rotation that included typing, shop, and ecology! Go figure, right? It was the seventies.

Blanche Stanton was a teacher cut from a mold like most of her contemporaries that now belongs in the Smithsonian Museum of American History. While I went to school in southeastern Michigan, she hailed from southeastern Kentucky. I remember that she was a formidable presence who was often beset upon by the mocking of us kids, yet never took it in stride. She was at war with us, and by God she had no intention of declaring surrender.

In 12 years of public under-graduate education, I was "sent to the office" on one occasion, by one teacher: Mrs. Stanton. My crime? I rolled my eyes at her. No shit!

The infraction occurred on the heels of a diatribe that she performed upon returning from a sick day to discover that someone had placed her electric, plastic bottomed coffee percolator on an electric burner on one of the stoves in her classroom resulting in an absurdist sculpture of sorts, but ending the career of her coffee pot.

All these years later, I wonder if one of the mitigating factors in her outrage was a caffeine deficiency created by the demise of her beloved percolator...

My banishment to the office was a total and utter shock to me. MY GOD, sent to the office...insubordination...was next? Courts Marshall? Execution? I knew that if my dad ever discovered that I had been thusly accused, death would be a blessing.

Sheepishly, I entered the office and took a seat. I didn't say a thing to anybody. I held onto the pass like a spy with the code that could end the war while still in enemy territory. Suddenly the vice-prinicple entered the office and seeing me asked, "What are you doing here?"

I handed him the note from Mrs. Stanton. He read it, and then asked, "What did you do?"

"I rolled my eyes."

"You what?"

What did he mean, 'I what?' I repeated myself, "I rolled my eyes."

He rolled his.

He looked at the clock. He looked at me. He said, "Stay here another 10 minutes and then go back to class."

Like a blast of snow in the face of man on the edge of heat exhaustion, a wave of relief passed over me.

Now, lest you think this is the story of a bad teacher, quite to the contrary, Mrs. Stanton gave me one of the most valuable things I have ever received. She gave me my first introduction to cooking. And I LOVE to cook.

The recipe that got the ball rolling was for an Apple Crumb Coffee Cake. After making it with my lab mates in her kitchen, I proceeded to make and remake it again and again for anyone who would tolerate it, and for any occasion at which it would make any sense at all.

Mrs. Stanton was the best kind of teacher. She was real. She wasn't afraid to be eccentric, odd, or old school. She loved her subject, and when anything got between it and conveying its importance to her students, she wasn't above displaying her passion indiscriminately.

So besides the amazing recipe, she also taught me that teachers are not perfect. They need to be forgiven every now and then--just like their students.


Blanche Kelley Stanton

STANTON Blanche Kelley Stanton, age 85, passed away on, July 20, 2011, at her home in Peachtree City, Georgia. Blanche was the beloved daughter of Carrie Waters Kelley and Charlie Hoke Kelley. She was born in Pickens County, South Carolina on September 18, 1925. Blanche was an excellent student and served as a member of the National Beta Club in High School. After her high school graduation, she attended Michigan State University where she studied Geography and Home Economics. While serving as Executive Director of the Dairy Council of Stark County Ohio Blanche met her husband, James Stanton. They were married on June 9, 1956 and remained happily married for 51 years until James passed away on June 19, 2007. Mrs. Stanton taught Home Economics and Geography in the Flat Rock Michigan Schools until her retirement in 1985. In her retirement, she enjoyed Cairn Terrier dogs and spending time with her husband. Mrs. Stanton is survived by a brother, James Kelley; nephew, Marty Kelley; nieces, Dalton Blankenship and Gemma Kelley; sister-in-law, Agnes Hazard; nephew, Charlie Hoke Kelley III; niece, Betty Gault; brother-in-law, Donald Stanton; sister-in-law, Jeri Stanton; nephews, Douglas Stanton, Clifford Stanton; niece, Shirley Stanton Grate; brother-in-law, Bill Cobb; nephews, Stephen Cobb, Michael Cobb, Robert Cobb; and niece, Cynthia Cobb Todd. Graveside Service 1:30 p.m. MONDAY, August 1, St. Joseph Cemetery, 6440 South High Street Lockbourne, Ohio, Rev. Dr. William L. Snider, Officiating. Arrangements entrusted to the JOHN QUINT TREBONI FUNERAL HOME and CREMATION SERVICE, 1177 W. 5th Avenue.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Random Quote 137

"Your imagination is your preview of life's coming attractions."

~ Albert Einstein, 1879 - 1955

Saturday Funny