I Never Met a Pumpkin I Didn’t Like

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?

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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.

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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?”  beagle

 

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Tough Art

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.

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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?”

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Who Is?

We are a country of innovators. I passed a driving range where I saw a man in a cart with an automated scooper that picked up all the golf balls lying on the ground. Hundreds of them. They looked like giant hailstones on a fake green turf. And here I thought this guy would be stooping and picking these up by hand. Shows you how another generIMG_8942ation I am. 

I marvel at the candy factory machines that cut, coat, and wrap each piece. I’m used to the tortilla making factories of life with one ball of dough being flattened into a round circle and then placed on a conveyor belt and run through a hot oven. This is usually the job of one young girl in threadbare clothes in a village garage. I grew up with people doing the work by hand. But now we have robots making cars and pizza. Who’s going to be making babies in twenty-five years? 

Calvin says, “Don’t worry. You won’t be here to be annoyed by the little fake people.”

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Sock It To Me

It was beginning to appear that her interesting face covered a most uninteresting mind. – Anne Perry

He would look at you as is he were really interested in all you said. Hcropped-photo1.jpge never seemed to be merely polite. It was almost as if he were half expecting you to turn out to be special, and he did not want to miss any opportunity to find out. – Anne Perry

Don’t mistake a street address for where you actually live. – Ruth Reichl

Art is what we call the thing an artist does. It’s not the medium or the oil or the price or whether it hangs on a wall or you eat it. What matters,
what makes it art, is that the person who made it overcame the resistance, ignored the voice of doubt and made something worth making. Something risky. Something human. Art is not in the eye of the beholder. It’s in the soul of the artist. – Seth Godin

“So was that the reason you left Herminia?” Miss Prim said.

He looked at her in silence for a few seconds, as if trying to guess what lay behind her question.

“I think you didn’t really love her,” she said.

“No, that’s where you’re wrong,” he said firmly. “I did love her. I loved her very much. But the day came, or maybe the moment, I don’t know, when I realized that she was asleep, whereas I was fully awake, absolutely, and totally awake. I’d climbed like a cat up onto a roof and I could see a beautiful, terrible, mysterious landscape stretching out before me. Did I really love her? Of course I did. Perhaps if I’d loved her less, cared for her less, I wouldn’t have had to leave her.”

“I thought the religious were closer to other people than anyone else.”

“I can’t speak for anyone else. I only know what it’s meant to me. It’s been my touchstone, the line that’s split my life in two and given it absolute meaning. But I’d be lying if I said it’s been easy. It’s not easy, and anyone who says it is is fooling themselves. It was catharsis, a shocking trauma, open-heart surgery, like a tree torn from the ground and replanted elsewhere.

“And there’s something else,” he continued, “something to do with looking beyond the moment, with the need to scan the horizon, to scrutinize it as keenly as a sailor studies his charts. Don’t be surprised. My story is as old as the world. I’m not the first and won’t be the last. I know what you’re thinking. Would I turn back if I could? No, of course not. Would a newly awoken man willingly go back to the sleepwalking life?”

–         From The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera

Calvin says, “Oh brother, what have you been drinking?” beagle

Up or Down?

As a friend just posted on Facebook, “I’m thankful to God for daylight savings”. Frankly it’s a tradition that has outlived its purpose and it’s time to chuck it, but until that happens, this time of year gives me God’s paintbrush strokes all over the sky when I come into work.

No two sunrises are the same. Each one has its unique features.

Some are bold and striking. Others wear summer pastels. 

The cloud formations are different, too. Sometimes they come at me with furious energy and tones. Others are quieter and appear in a whisper.

The morning sky is like a fashion runway with the color statement for the day. I look forward to it.

What floors me is my fellow passengers on the train. Nobody looks out the window at the spectacle. They’re blind. They prefer their inner landscape curated by social media.

Calvin says, “Most people don’t look up or down. Me? I love sticking my nose into a burning bush of sunrise.” beagle

 

The Theater Less Filled

For all the doom and gloom out there in the media, all you have to do is take a trip to New York for a corrective. The city is bulging at the seams, especially in summer. The rest of the world might be suffering, but the crowds in New York are in the restaurants, in the theaters and at Macy’s. I went there one early afternoon and as soon as I stepped inside, I wanted to run out again. It was wall-to-wall humanity, from the rich to the not-so rich, spraying perfume on themselves, looking at shoes and wristwatches, and trying on the latest red shade of lipstick. Adding to the agony of suffocation were a plethora of security guards watching the shoppers’ every move.

Most theaters are doing a lottery to fill their seats these days, except Hamilton of course. I walked up to the box office and inquired if they had a couple of spare seats for that day or night. The man behind the glass plate (have you ever wondered why the glass plate?) laughed himself silly. “Come back in January,” he said. This was August.

So I saw The Humans, the Tony award winner for best play and best performances from an actor and actress. It was so depressing I wanted to cry. I also didn’t think the story was unique or compelling enough to win all those awards, so either New York is depressed or there was some heavy politics involved.

I tried the lottery for On Your Feet, the Gloria Estefan story, and won! I was elated even if it did mean sitting on the third floor balcony and looking down on the stage like an eagle. The music and dancing and singing were outstanding and by the end of the two and half hour show you were on your feet moving with the company on stage. It was confusing to me why something this well done and uplifting had empty seats while something so depressing like The Humans had a full house. It goes to show that winning is everything.

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Calvin says, “The public is so easily led. Me? I stick to my nose. It never lies.” beagle

Iowa Is Good for Writing

My friend and her husband are driving cross country to deliver a car to their daughter in D.C.

Nevada and Utah were blanketed in snow, which made for stunning pictures. Wyoming was another matter. Flat is the only word for it. A view of the occasional cow on some green land was the only bump on the landscape.

Now they’re in Iowa, home of John Wayne and its depressing Main Street, which looks more like a movie set than a real place for real people who work, play and raise families.  

I’m so used to living on the coasts that I forget there’s a whole country in the middle of the country. It looks like a foreign land to me. I expect people to be speaking another language and living another culture. And perhaps they do. They are ranchers and farmers and people who have worked the cornfields all their lives.

I looked up employment in Iowa. The list included pizza driver, office clerk, test administrator and library assistant. I noticed there weren’t any tech jobs. That’s probably because there’s no internet. Who needs internet for herding cows? Two border collies will do.

What I did discover were a ton of bloggers from Iowa. A lot of them are food blogs. But I don’t see Iowa as a foodie destination. How many blog posts do you need for grilling hamburgers?

It’s worth mentioning that there’s the famous Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop, which has produced many award-winning authors over the years.

For some, looking at pasture lands and grazing cattle fosters the urge to write. I, for one, wouldn’t find any inspiration looking at a cow chewing the cud. I’d need some action like a line of geese following a marching band.

Calvin says, “And to think Iowa is the bellwether of American politics.” beagle