I’m writing this on the subway on my way home. Two women, about the same age, complete strangers, sit in front with their backs to me. I notice both have the same shade of blonde on their heads, out of the same tube, probably the same store and shelf where all the other hair dyes live, where a spectrum from black to almost silver beckon to female customers. Boxes and boxes with faces of models half their age. I wonder what shade they picked. Bubbly Blonde or Gold Nugget. One is trying to camouflage the Earl(y) grey. The other had highlighted the mouse(y) in her head. At any rate, it doesn’t work. I would have chosen a warm brown with flecks of red cardinal to make their complexions come alive.
I say if you’re going to change your color, go for broke. You can always paint over it if you hate it. Or live like another woman for a while. It’s your opportunity to go Bohemian, paint a canvas, go belly dancing or hug a stranger, your husband. He’d think he walked into the wrong house. You might come home looking ten years younger and then the adventure begins.
Calvin says, “So when’s your next appointment at the hair dresser’s? I could use a little excitement around here.”
The pumpkins are out. All kinds, shapes and colors. They make me smile. I can’t explain why except maybe it’s the color and the texture that draws me in. Something so ordinary has so many interesting features, like a black and white photograph of an old man with the wrinkles of time carved into his face.
It takes 85-125 days, about 4 months, to grow a normal size pumpkin. The mini variety can be grown on a trellis or fence. So even high-rise techie dwellers with a balcony can get into the harvest mood. Who knew?
I love to line up the minis down the middle of my dining room table, and they’re pretty on a mantelpiece in a row. But the place for most impact is in a large basket on the living room coffee table next to your blue coffee mug. It must be the color of the sky if your basket is filled with orange pumpkins. Blue and orange are complementary colors and make a good pairing.
If you have the time, paint one black and white. That’s always a stunner. In fact black and white patterns elevate any space. Try it.
I think I’ll paint my pumpkins this season in polka-dots and stripes and line them up on my driveway. They’ll act as landing lights into my garage when I get home.
Calvin says, “What’s that funny looking squash with bones painted on it doing in my food bowl?”
Time and time again Alf and I marvel at people who are immensely talented and yet shy away from their gifts. We know of several with writing gifts who never put pen to paper. Others who have a terrific fashion sense and keep it all to themselves. And there are those who do pursue their artistic callings with courage and conviction, but with little support from friends and loved ones. In fact, they’re often told to get a real job. What is it about art that garners less respect than other professions like business or engineering? Heck, there’s more respect for the G-Man (garbage collector) than a painter.
We live in a day of practicality. Does the job make money? Will it sustain you and a spouse and children? Will it give you a house, a car and a yearly vacation? Or will you have to eat out of a paper bag full of moldy veggies?
Being an artist is not for the fainthearted. It wasn’t easy living for Van Gogh and his generation nor is it any easier for people today. But one thing is different. Anybody with an ounce of skill is posting like mad on social media in the hope of getting noticed. Consequently there’s a lot of bad art out there. There’s also some good stuff. The serious artist, however avoids it all in favor of a website with class.
It’s like commercial fiction. The serious literary types look down their erudite noses at the fabulously successful writers who make millions with their popular, badly written novels. Secretly they probably wish they could make that kind of money, but they wouldn’t dare try. It would be beneath them.
So what’s an artist to do? I say keep at it, no matter how difficult the task. Post away. Talk it up. Send it out. You never know what door will open.
Calvin says, “I’m so glad I’m only talented in one thing – food. What’s for dinner?”
This morning the subway system had a major malfunction. Everything was broken – the tracks, the cars, and even the people. What completely baffles me are the passengers. They’re sheep. Our train was so full we couldn’t squeeze in a fly, but does anybody notice that? When we pulled into the stop, our conductor, realizing the suffocating situation we were in, announced to the crowd on the platform to wait for the train just behind us, which was headed in the same direction and was empty. What did the crowd do? They shoved and pushed their way into our train. I was afraid we would collapse from the load. And then we faced the under water tunnel into the city and I cringed. I have nightmares of a breakdown in the tunnel with no escape unless you like to swim, which I don’t. And I didn’t want to die with this morning’s crowd. They were too stupid. If I’m going to die in an accident, I want to go down with smart people. Fortunately we made it safely into the city otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this. But it goes to show how people in general do not think, or react well to a scenario that requires reason. If I had been waiting for the train and had had the option of the second train, I would have waited, but then again, I could have been the only one facing the risk of getting trapped in the tunnel with no one else on board but the train operator. At least I’d have had him for company when we died together.
Calvin says, “Stick to walking, always the safest bet unless you run into something ten times your size and then run like hell.”
I’ve taken up painting. It’s therapy on the weekends. Lately I’ve found I need it after work, too.
I love a white canvas begging to be slathered with color. Fear used to paralyze me. Not anymore. It’s just paint. If I don’t like it, I change it. I control my universe.
What I find most fun is faces. They just appear. My sister says I paint our grandmother over and over again. Okay. Maybe. But I don’t recall any emotional turmoil with her growing up, so why would I be resurrecting her on my canvases? I think my sister is projecting her own drama.
I comb the internet for paintings that arrest me and then study them. The ones that immediately capture my attention are the modern abstracts, the ones that look like ink splats on a page. I’m drawn to furious, powerful colors. Robert Motherwell and sculptor Louise Nevelton fascinate me. Their work is enormous and commands an entire room or a street. Next time I’m in New York I want to hunt for their work wherever it leads me.
Calvin says, “Hey, I could do that. On my next walk, watch and see.”
Every morning a black and white cat appears at the window of the apartment across from my office. A long stretch. A pink yawn. It pokes at the sill with its front paw testing to see if the window is open. It’s not. It sits up and leans against the glass absorbing the sun with its eyes closed. It curls its black tail and stays as still as a Latin American question mark at the beginning of a sentence.
Lately it hasn’t been at its post when I arrive, which worries me. I immediately think it finally walked out on the ledge, slipped and fell to its death, except cats don’t typically die this way because they’re acrobats and reverse themselves in mid-fall and land on all four legs.
So what happened? I walk out of the building and there it is in the middle of a stacks of bricks, not-so thriving plants, and a rusting car. The lot next door is a dumping ground for all things discarded.
It’s black and white markings peak through the dying plants. It looks at me. It seems quite happy tip-toeing among the ruins. The sun is on its back. It’s free. I’m relieved and come back indoors.
The next day I come into my office, it’s back at the window looking down. I guess this is the arrangement with its owner, like a wayward son, sometimes coming home, but mostly on the prowl.
Calvin says, “A vagabond with a pied