Happiness is a pink panther

Photograph of house restoration

In our neighborhood a house is being restored. Originally built in the 1900s and not much done to it since then, that meant the roof and windows needed to be replaced. The old siding was removed, and the walls patched where the wood had rotted away. Crews have been working on it continuously for weeks.

Yesterday, though, workmen had left for the weekend. It was raining, that quiet drizzly rain that farmers say, ah-yup, good for the crops. Sunday afternoon, and rather than watching football or socializing with friends, one man was out there, putting on Pink Panther waterproofing.

He worked quietly, with only ear buds for company, painstakingly measuring, cutting, and installing each segment. He was singing. In the rain. When I walked over to say hello, I realized it was the owner.

He didn’t have to be there, he chose to be there. This was how he wanted to spend his Sunday afternoon.

“It’s wet out here,” I remarked.

“I won’t melt.”

He smiled and went back to his work.

And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand, 
They danced by the light of the moon.
~Edward Lear, The Owl and the Pussycat~

Book Review: Old in Art School by Nell Painter

Book picture: Old in Art School

OLD IN ART SCHOOL by Nell Painter
My rating: 5 stars

What if you were ready to retire but not yet ready to devote your life to grand kids–or maybe there weren’t any. Your kids didn’t have any, or maybe you’d not had children yourself. What’s next? Become a full-time volunteer or a gardener or an expert at golf?

Nell Painter chose none of these but rather elected to become a lowly undergraduate student in art at age 64. She’d already made her mark in the world, a professor at Princeton, seven published books. She didn’t have to do this. Why on earth did she do it?

This was the question that I kept returning to as I read the memoir of the years leading up to her achieving an Master of Fine Arts. During this time her last professional book achieved best-selling status and a front page New York Times book review. Her mother died. She had to commute back and forth from Rhode Island to California to take care of her aging father, suffering from depression and loneliness.

Nell endured the alienation from other students who were four decades younger than she. She suffered the put-downs from art teachers who insisted she was not An Artist. “Bullshit,” she said, and kept painting.

She battled her own insecurities in this new way of communication with visual images rather than words. “I had no inkling of how thoroughly art school would instruct me–teach me, challenge my abilities, and question my sanity.”

For a time she divorces herself from the world of words to immerse in the world of images. At the end, she is able to integrate both together into a unified whole.

She DID succeed, and therein lies a message for all of us who are growing older. Life is more than just walking around. There is purpose and meaning to existence, no matter what age one happens to be.

You can never have too much yarn

Photo of blue red magenta yarn

I’m a crocheter rather than a knitter, but this exuberant bundle caught my eye when I visited a yarn shop in Jerome, Arizona.

And then I realized if I bought it, I’d have to keep it that way forever, never made into a project. Because, can you imagining unraveling a piece of work if you made a mistake, say, eight inches down?

Some things are just not made for a do-over.

You know you knit too much when you put your computer keyboard on the floor while reading your daily emails so you can hit the space bar with your toe to scroll through them while knitting.
~Stephanie Pearl-McPhee~

 

Remembrance of things past

Picture of glass reflections

Can you tell what this thing is? I couldn’t either, but it looked cool. I was spending the afternoon with a friend at the University of Michigan Property Disposition Department, 41 million square feet of warehouse space filled with a few odds and ends.

There were the expected 16 dozen used clay-colored steel case files (I guess professors swap them out for NEW clay-colored steel case files every year or so), desks, old computer CPUs, and such.

But the big kahoona of finds was the scientific equipment room. Talk about the mother lode of stuff you have no idea what it is (or was, 49 years ago) used for. Like this highly-calibrated, brass thing-a-ma-gig, complete with fun house reflections. I want one!

Curiosity’s like a fun friend you can’t really trust. It turns you on and then it leaves you
to make it on your own.

~Haruki Murakami~

Book Review: Making History, a science fiction novel by Bruce Polky

Picture of MAKING HISTORY by Bruce PolkyI grew up reading Asimov and Heinlein, but haven’t delved into too much current science fiction. That may change.

I recently discovered this debut novel by Bruce Polky and I like it. It is a quiet novel that grew on me as I read it.

I liked this book because the characters were realistic, searching for answers in a diverse environment full of lies. The science is accurate and the plot points interesting.

How would living in solitary confinement for a year change you? How would it be to wake up from near death after a year in space physically feel like? How would you choose between knowing the truth or dying? Which would you choose?

The book left me with more questions than answers, and got me to thinking!

I look forward to more adventures with Dav and his sentient, emotional computer. (But you can leave out the mechanical cockroaches in the next one!)

A good read. I’d give it five stars for a first novel.

The intensity of an Arizona sunset

Picture of Arizona Sunset

The quality of light in Arizona is intense, and never more so than at sunset during monsoon season. For two summer months, the afternoon clouds build, fierce thunderstorms crash and threaten. Then it is over. Or is it?

As a photographer, I’ve learned to be patient. If I wait out the storm, and stick around for the aftermath, a brilliantly hued sunset often occurs. It is time well-spent.

The end of summer is always hard on me. Trying to cram in all the goofing off I’ve been meaning to do.
~Calvin and Hobbes~