Thursday, April 29, 2010

Jonas Salk

As one who grew up in the '50s, I still remember the year(s) when we couldn't play in the plastic swimming pool or with the water hose because of the fear we might get polio. The fear was real. I didn't understand it, still don't really; how you "catch" polio playing in or around cool water. But every parent was afraid of sseeing their kid in braces. But, bless Jonas Salk, a vaccine was discovered and took away that fear.

The research for the vaccine was done at University of Pittsburgh, headed by Jonas Salk. The coolest thing I have read is that he refused to patent the vaccine. When asked by Edward R. Murrow who owned the vaccine, his reply was "the people." He added, "Can you patent the sun?"

I haven't seen it, but there's a movie about the vaccine and the research. Probably worth checking out.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Lucy Photographs the Garden Store

We visited Reilly's Farm & Garden Store today, looking for landscape materials. I gave my camera to Lucy again and she got busy. She's really getting into this photography thing. I heard her saying, "Oh, good one," when she took the shot of the pots. She really liked that one. And then she'd sit down cross-legged on the sidewalk to get a particular angle or shot. It was fun to watch what grabbed her attention.

A Red Stool

I'm almost afraid to post this because the picture probably won't do the project justice and you won't be as charmed by it as I am. A while back, determined to pull myself out of a funk of not doing anything, I started gluing paper on an old naked wood stool I had brought with me. It was spattered with paint and what-not and was a simple utilitarian stool. I didn't have a vision when I started, or if I did, it's long gone.

Today, I officially called this project finished, and I love looking at this little red stool. Whether it's the actual transformation that I love or the fact that it went from OMG what am I doing to I hate this part of it, or why black bars? (Thank you Sarah), it's now a smiley piece that will go in my living room and serve to remind me that all I need to do is jump in and try. Or as Christine Kane said, "Stop Gathering and Start Making."

I used joss paper and pages from an old book (Westward Ho) for the legs. The top is a collage of things I had saved, with the edges bordered with more joss paper. The cross bars started out as black, but with the addition of the joss, it cried for red and thankfully my daughter immediately saw that and voila!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It's been eleven weeks . . .

It's been eleven weeks since I moved to Pittsburgh. Three of these were spent in a dazed funk trying to get my bearings; three were spent back in Oklahoma, so essentially I've been functioning here about five weeks. There are definitely things I miss about Tulsa, which may surprise some people since I've complained about living in Oklahoma all my life.

Part of it is the ease of getting around and taking care of life's business. For example, Whole Foods is "right there" in Tulsa. I could drive there in a flash. Michael's and Hobby Lobby, for all they don't have, were on the way home from almost any place. And don't forget the drug store on every corner.

Yes, there's a Whole Foods here, yes there's Trader Joe's, and "real" art supply stores, but every one is an outing. I haven't been to Whole Foods; I've been to Trader Joe's once which was a disappointment because they don't sell wine here since all the liquor stores are state owned. That was a surprise to me because I have been thinking the reason T-Joe's didn't come to Tulsa was Oklahoma liquor laws. So much for that theory.

Some days I ask myself why I'm here. I miss Tom, miss our routine, miss figuring out what I can cook that he'll eat and I will still enjoy cooking it.

On the flip side, I'm energized by discovering areas with fresh markets, sidewalk vendors, local galleries and sales. I'm empowered by finding my way home without backtracking and tears and frustration. I have to admit I think I've regenerated some brain cells in this process. It feels good to have reached the edge of my comfort zone and then kicked myself in the butt.

But forget for a minute about comfort zones and personal energy. There's a different type of energy that encircles me when I witness Lucy's excitement about finding a baby ladybug on the nature walk field trip, when I laugh til my sides hurt because Sam is afraid people will think we're homeless if we eat on the lawn of a restaurant because the music is too loud and the air conditioning is too cold inside; when Henry beams just because I watch him play his computer games for a while. These are just simple everyday things, not big events. These are things that aren't special to tell anyone about, and yet for me, right now, these are the things I think about when I go to bed. When I think about my week. These are the reasons I'm glad I'm here.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Porch Night in Mayberry

I walked to the library early this evening to return some books and ended up checking out the new Joyce Carol Oates novel, Little Bird of Heaven. The purpose of my outing was simply to get a little exercise and return my books. But as I walked back home, I passed my daughter's house and her porch beckoned me to come sit and read a while. No one was home, but the house was unlocked -- this is Mayberry, remember -- so I went in, poured a glass of wine, took my new book to the front porch and inhaled the evening. I don't know how I got any reading done for the people watching I did: lovers strolled by on a date -- I could tell by the wallet on a chain that she carried and swung; a married couple out for a walk eating their ice cream cones; people walking dogs, families with skipping children, a developmentally challenged adult with the kindest companion to help walk the dog. The birds sang, the grass whispered. It was so peaceful, I couldn't think of anyplace I'd rather be.

Sarah's house is on a lopsided corner, one that isn't a 90-degree intersection, so people tend to cross at angles and meander more. It's a great location for that very reason. So many of the houses here have large front porches. In fact, DreamWorks recently knocked on Sarah's door inquiring if she would consider letting them use the house with its inviting porch for a movie in the works. There have been several walk-throughs of the site location team, but no decision yet. Several houses are being considered.

My sister, who had the best porch ever in Tulsa, used to refer to her time there as "front porch therapy." Not her therapy, but her as the therapist. Neighbors seemed to come out of nowhere and poured out their souls. Recently, fellow blogger, Cindy, wrote about her own porch.

I miss not having a porch, but as long as I have a porch of movie proportion about a mile away, who's to complain?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Child's Eye

Yesterday Sam had his first "travel soccer game" -- a big deal for a 9-year old. An easy drive, 35-40 minutes on a gorgeous day. Sarah, Henry, Lucy and I drove over to watch, to cheer and eat Cheez-Its.

Lucy was having a very rough day, had had and we had all experienced several of her meltdowns. During the drive over, I gave her my camera and told her to take pictures of our trip.

So, what does a 4-year old take pictures of? Her shoes, her brother, and the passing sites. All very predictable, considering we're in a car. But, there's one that jumped out at me. It looks like it's been enhanced or manipulated, but it hasn't. I love it.

Here are her other photographs.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Spring in PA

So much for "Oh poor Pittsburgh and the terrible weather there." It's bordering hot, some would even say we've crossed the border. I might be one of them. It's sunny, beautiful, still, and a delightful spring. Frankly, I get a little tired of the emphasis put on weather comparisons. Most people have a horribly lopsided, totally out of proportion idea about what the weather is like here.

The spring is beautiful, much like spring in Tulsa, but more green. So many flowering trees, Lenten roses, tulips, daffodils, forsythia, a star-like blue flower I'm not familiar with, the rhododendrons. One thing I really like is the black soil. Isn't that odd? But for an Okie, that black soil is very exotic. I remember the first time I saw black soil was when I was about 22 years old on a visit to Illinois. I said (sad to say, in all seriousness), "Why do they burn all the flower beds?" And that's when I learned there was something other than RED DIRT!

Lawzie me!:)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Trivia

I didn't know this before today. I found this information on Collagitation. Easter is the only holiday in the christian calendar, where they forgot to change the pagan reference when they booted out the old gods and took it over. Its name still bears homage to the goddess, Oestre. She was, of course, a fertility goddess, hence all the rabbits and eggs.

I've always thought the eggs symbolized the new beginning or breaking through, something like that. Now it all makes sense.

Happy Easter!

Easter is such an interesting holiday for me. I don't feel especially connected to it and yet I feel obligated to participate. Probably a result of my childhood. What else to blame it on? I don't remember big Easter baskets or decorating eggs. Growing up, other than the religious part, my Easter was new shoes, a fancy dress and not being able to wear either one until church on Easter Sunday. I'd look at those shoes, put them on but not be allowed to wear them to church or anywhere else until Easter. What was so important about waiting for that day? I never understood. As I grew into teenage years, Easter was about getting orchid corsages from doey eyed suitors and sewing my own Easter suit or dress. And still, a fancy dress. Easter was church, but church was every Sunday. Easter church was different though. The songs, the flowers, and the fancy dresses.

My favorite Easter memory is a more recent one, when my sister and I went to Europe, not for the holiday, but over the holiday, a few years ago. The fountains in the German villages were decorated with so many hand-painted egg garlands. I'd never seen such decorations before. The women collect hollowed eggs all year long, hand paint them and prepare garlands for the town squares. Yes, hand painted, not dyed. Such detail and so gorgeous! We happened to be in Vienna for Easter. We went to Easter church in the big cathedral there, St. Paul's I think. All the pomp associated with it gave me goosebumps. And though I'm not Catholic, I welled up when the bishop said Happy Easter in English. Easter Monday is as big a deal as the Friday before Easter. Everything shuts down.

The kids downstairs just woke up to find the Easter bunny had been busy all night. Such joy and laughter rattled the walls, I reveled in their hunt.

It's a bright sunny day, perfect for egg hunts. Here's hoping your basket is full!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Fortunes

Here's a painting technique that is easy and versatile and could be used for a lot of different things. On this sheet, I didn't cover the entire page with color, but when you do, it looks almost like stained glass. As I look at these photos, I wish I'd painted more of the white.

I used blue painter's tape to block out small areas of the paper. It's perfect because it has "low tack" and doesn't leave a residue. I filled a dropper with ink and then, not squeezing the bulb, used it to draw lines across the paper. I then took a dry brush and swept across the wet inks. This gave a crosshatched result and some shading. I let that dry about 45 seconds then took a contrasting ink and with a damp brush, painted in some of the white areas. I used acrylic inks to keep it transparent. The purple ink was in a dropper but didn't do as well as the black with the brush. A different kind of ink. It would have been better to use it for painting areas rather than a big swash, I think.

I didn't start out to make something to use fortune cookie fortunes, I was just experimenting, but then, the spaces were the perfect size and I needed to make a retirement card and I had a big bowl of saved fortunes, so . . . there you have it. . . the art process in motion.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Old to New to Old

We've carted two concrete pots around for about 15 years, have used them but never really "owned" them in terms of giving them any personality. Frankly, they are so heavy that they've ended up residing on the side of the house with nothing planted in them because they just didn't add much to any spot they were put in.

With the new covered porch, we wanted some pots to dress it up. I decided to try my hand at painting these concrete ones and putting them into use again. Here's the "before" picture.

And the "after" picutre.

As much as I didn't know what I was doing, I have to admit this ended up being a fun project and I wondered why it took me so long to try it. I used watered down acrylic paints, painted them on, immediately wiping it off, to try to give it an "old world" look. I used waterproof sealer on it when I was finished.

They look great on the porch and I have a feeling, will look even better when the plants tumble out and they "wear" a little.