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Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do, or Do Without

Friday, September 19th, 2008

The title of this entry is a saying that I heard many times from my grandmother [Grammy–my father’s mother] as I was growing up.  She was originally from Maine, but had moved to the mid-Atlantic region as a new bride when she was in her twenties.  She never lost her Maine accent to the day that she died, in her eighties.

I always thought that this was one of those “frugal New England” sayings, stereotyping the region and Grammy all at once.  As it turns out, it took coming to California to allow me to see my mistake.

Recently, when Jeremy was visiting, we went to the “Rosie the Riveter Homefront Memorial” in Richmond, CA, near where I work.  It’s quite an amazing place, in a park on the old site of Kaiser Shipyard No. 2.  As it says at the website, an estimated 18 million women worked in the defense industries during WWII.

And a part of that story is the history of the dykes–the women who dressed in overalls and worked in heavy industry–and discovered that there were other women who felt like that, too.  But that would take us rather far afield. 

The main part of the site is a sculpture that outlines the form of a ship under construction.  In the pavement that defines the keel of the ship are a number of incised stones that give the chronology of the war and of the war effort.  There are also sculptural element that outline the main architectural features of the ship.  They include plaques including photographs and other items of life during the war.  One of these is  a brief notice talking about hardships during the War.  One way of mobilizing Americans to contribute to the War effort was the slogan above.

I’m appalled that Bush’s response to the events of 9/11/2001 was to tell us to go shopping.  I fear that, with the current crisis in the financial sector, we’re in for another very bad patch–perhaps as bad as the [Great] Recession of the 1930s.

I find that I’m more and more interested in putting things up–this weekend I’m canning spaghetti sauce.  Somehow, it feels like things are going to get much worse.  So I share the saying above.  And really, it’s time for me to act like there are limits to what is possible.

To Thy Happy Children of the Future Those of the Past Send Greetings

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

Jeremy and I were visiting the US Midwest recently, and one of our stops was Champaign-Urbana, Illinois–home of the University of Illinois, where I was in graduate school.  At the entrance to the school is one of my favorite statues, Alma Mater by Lorado Taft [The link is wikipedia].  It was a commission from the Class of 1927 (? I think) and the inscription on the base is the title of this post.  It strikes me that this inscription is the hope of what education is really all about.  The first picture on the Wikipedia link is the statue. [And here’s a picture that Jeremy took:]

Alma Mater

I went mostly to visit friends from my school days.  But, not surprisingly, they had lives that they were busy leading.  They provided a guide to art at the Univerisity of Illinois.  Jeremy and I worked our way around the campus, seeking out pictures and sculptures located in out-of-the-way corners of the campus.

I think our favorite discovery was a picture in the reception area of the President’s Office: We the People: The Land-Grant College Act Heritage, painted by Billy Morrow Jackson in 1987.  [The link is the page from the art guide, with a black & white version of the painting.]  The color image is much more interesting.  I’ll try to add one, if I can.

We ended our art tour of the campus at the Krannert Art Museum, the main art museum on campus.  There were a number of high points–there were some of the prints from the Carceri d’Inventiones [Imaginary Prisons–or Prisons of the Imagination, as you translate] by Piranesi.  These prints played an interesting part in the series Inspired by Bach from Yo-Yo Ma.  In the series, he worked with artists in different disciplines to create realizations of the Bach cello suites in their medium.  Some of them are much better than others, but they’re all interesting [and available on DVD].  In one of them, some acoustic engineers manipulate the sound from Yo-Yo Ma to place him sonically into these environments created visually by Piranesi.

Another amazing piece was another sculpture by Lorado Taft.  It’s called, I think, Les Aveugles [the Blind–with a Flickr link].  It’s based on a Nineteenth Century one-act play by Maeterlinck, describing a group of blind people that were marooned on an island.  At some moment, they realize that a baby born to the group can see, and that encapsulates hope for the future.  The sculpture captures the moment when an older woman is holding the baby up to the sun–and it’s clear both that the baby can see and that the rest of the group cannot.  In many ways, the group reminds me of Rodin’s Burghers of Calais–a large sculptural group, each an individual, united by their situation.

It was wonderful to discover a new side to a place that I spent such a long time, and that I have so many good memories of. 

An Expedition to the Midwest (I)

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008
Jeremy and I spend about two weeks in the Midwest.  The main purpose was our annual trip to the convention of the  IAGSDC [the International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs], held this year in Cleveland.  Jeremy and ... [Continue reading this entry]

On marine aquaria

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008
When I was a youth, I had a fresh-water aquarium.  It was a certain amount of trouble, but not too much.  The fish were attractive, and some of them managed to reproduce, which was a pleasant surprise.  The main reason ... [Continue reading this entry]

A quick apology

Monday, July 21st, 2008
To my regular reader--if any--I'm sorry that I let you down.  Partly, I was away, and I found it remarkably difficult to blog from out of town.  At this point, since I don't have a laptop of my own to ... [Continue reading this entry]

afghans for Afghans–personal knitting for global connection

Monday, June 16th, 2008
A week or so ago, I got an email newsletter from a local yarn shop that included an invitation to knit a rectangular shawl for women going into a maternity hospital in Kabul.  This is only one of the projects of [Continue reading this entry]

Naked Night at Blow Buddies

Friday, June 6th, 2008
Given the name, I suppose that you won't be surprised when I tell you that Blow Buddies is a sex club in San Francisco for men who want to find other men for, shall we say, oral enjoyment.  It's always ... [Continue reading this entry]

Other Countries, Other Customs–Obama and TUCC

Thursday, June 5th, 2008
When I was studying German in high school, I learned a proverb that has passed the test of experience: "Andere Laender, Andere Sitten"--Other Countries, Other Customs.  My version wouldn't be so much "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" ... [Continue reading this entry]

Entering the U.S. in Vancouver airport

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Well, I headed back to the U.S after my visit to Vancouver.  For people who haven't taken a plane from Canada to the U.S., the process is a bit unusual.  After checking in, I proceeded through duty-free shopping, and then ... [Continue reading this entry]

Van Dusen Garden in Vancouver

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008
Jeremy and I spent a wonderful afternoon in Van Dusen garden.  This is a 55 acre garden [about 20 city blocks] in urban Vancouver--not downtown, a mostly residential area.  The garden was established in 1975, so ... [Continue reading this entry]