Pandemic Road: Week Two

As Melanie pointed out in her latest blog, we are knee deep in a week that began with a full moon and is ending with a Friday the 13th. We could’ve guessed that this is the time to plunge into a global pandemic.

This is where I spent my late afternoon today. In a very calm restaurant, RA Sushi, looking out the window. My Dear Friend and I had good food and polite conversation. Don’t the clouds look nice set back against the beautiful blue skies. It’s hard to imagine from looking at this picture that the grocery store across the street was doing a roaring business and selling out of water and toilet paper.

Why toilet paper? People are hoarding toilet paper. I don’t understand that and I don’t really even want to understand that. People are also hoarding water. Last I heard coronavirus does not flow through the water pipes.

Earlier this day, I spent a lot of time finding out how many of my weekend plans were being cancelled. Even the WiVLA (Women in the Visual and Literary Arts) events have been cancelled. Both the Houston Ballet and the Houston Symphony cancelled all their performances for the rest of the month.

Even the Houston Live Stock Show and Rodeo was called off in mid‐run. This is the first time this happened since it began back in the 1930’s. That seemed to be the cancellation that caught most people off guard. Of course, I only went to the Rodeo twice in the time I have lived here in Houston. But I always knew it was there. I would go way out of my way to avoid the traffic. Willie Nelson got in his performance this year, but Gwen Stefani and many other musicians were cancelled.

Back at the nice peaceful restaurant, we arrived around 3:00 p.m. We knew the place would not be crowded at that time during a week day. I don’t know if the staff planned this, but the patrons that were there were seated at least 3 to 6 feet apart. I eyed the wait staff closely and did not see anyone cough, sneeze, wheeze or any other signs of impending doom. By the time we left many other customers came in, yet we all remained safely separated for appropriate social isolation.

In one more attempt to remain safe and healthy restaurant customers; my Dear Friend and I ordered only food that involved cooking. Typically at RA, we order things like sushi, seaweed salads, etc. As you can see in this picture, we split an order of vegetable tempura. It included yummy broccoli, asparagus, carrots and a few onion rings. We also split an order of agedashi tofu and some zucchini.

In addition to eating out, we went for a walk. The weather is getting warmer and warmer. Spring has definitely sprung around here. However, it is not as hot as it gets in the middle of July and August. I hope this pandemic is over before the summer gets here. I prefer water aerobics to walking when it is hot enough outside to fry eggs on the sidewalk.

How are you doing with this pandemic? I think everyone is hibernating at least for the upcoming weekend and maybe next week.

Wash your hands and stay healthy!

Until next week.….

Going Down the Road of Silver Linings

I am now a member of the Women In The Visual and Literary Arts (WIVLA). All this year they have been celebrating their Silver 25th Anniversary. Along with several other writers and poets, I was asked to write either a poem or an essay on the topic of “Silver”. Here is what I wrote and read at the monthly meeting tonight. I apologize in advance that I have no pictures to go with this personal essay. Just read it and imagine the color “silver”.

A silver anniversary means that 25 years have passed. Surely a silver anniversary involves at least one silver lining. While researching this topic, I found out that I am a Silver surfer. I am a senior citizen who surfs the internet. Who knew that had a name?

Twenty‐five years ago, 1994 (the year Wivla began) was the 25th anniversary of Woodstock. No, I wasn’t there. I was only 12 years old at the time. But I watched it on the nightly news. I read about it in the newspaper. I was fascinated. Three days of peace, love and music and so many hippies showing the rest of us how to live in harmony with each other. A lot of cool silver jewelry, which I still like today. I looked forward to the day when I would be old enough to go to such a music happening.

By the time I was actually old enough for Woodstock, the culture had changed. Music made the switch from the Beatles singing that “All you need is Love” to KC and the Sunshine Band singing “Shake your booty”. Morally it was quite the let down, but I put on my best 1970s wardrobe with my platform shoes and danced with my friends. And, yes, our dances were called things like “The Bump” and “The Hustle”. If you don’t remember how goofy some of those dances were, I dare you to look them up on YouTube. By the end of this decade, Saturday Night Fever showed on the silver screens of movie theaters.

During the 1980’s I turned 25 years old while living in Houston and working at a basic office job for your basic oil company. I wore business suits with shoulder pads and pumps on my feet. I walked the streets of downtown Houston and saw men in three piece suits, cowboy boots, and cowboy hats…in the middle of July. I went to the disco with my friends and we all wanted to dance like Jennifer Beals in Flash Dance, (or at least her body double dancer), but we didn’t. Not even close, I’m afraid.

By the 1990s, I had switched careers and become a Social Worker. I worked at a psychiatric hospital and transitional living facility before hiring on with Harris County. Musically, Whitney Houston was singing I Will Always Love You and My Love is Your Love. Pretty music and easy to dance to. On the silver screen she starred in the movie The Body Guard. Beck recorded a song called Loser and Nirvana recorded Smells Like Teen Spirit. Neither was danceable to me. Snoop Dog was a silver‐tongued rapper. It took me a long time to appreciate rap music. I was in my late 30’s…..was I beginning to get old? In 1994, again the year WiVLA began, Michael Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley. Of those 90’s musicians I listed, Whitney Houston, Kurt Cobain of Nirvana and Michael Jackson met tragic endings. Lisa Marie still rocks on. I listen to Beck who is still writing songs and performing. The last time I saw Snoop Dog, he was hosting a game show and is BFF’s with Martha Stewart. Go figure.

Now it is 2019. It is the 50th anniversary of Woodstock. During this decade I retired from being a Social Work Administrator for Harris County after 25 years. I was given a gold and silver watch for my troubles. I have my own silver hair. Beyonce showed women how to rule the world. Shakira’s hips didn’t lie and Pink got the party started. I now listen to a lot of classic rock music on Sirius radio. I also listen to the band Imagine Dragons, because they’re RadioActive and that makes me feel “Cool”. However, I think the fact that I am still using the word, “cool” means I’m probably not. I’m now a member of WiVLA. For the next 25 years I look forward to being a full time writer, a part time visual artist and an ongoing member of the WiVLA community. Now that’s what I call a silver lining.

Until next week.….

The Art Road

What to do during these last few warm days in Houston? Tomorrow we are guaranteed cool weather. A 30 degree temperature drop. I can’t wait!

But last weekend it was still warm and I was restless, so I decided to head over to Sawyer Yards and stroll through some art. Sawyer Yards is a collection of industrial warehouses that have been converted into a thriving creative community with building names like Winter Street, Silver Street, The Silos, among others. It is not unusual for them to have market hours during the weekend when almost every artist is in their studios showing off their work. I have never been able to make it through every building in one evening. There is just too much to see and experience.

Last Saturday evening, I made it through both Winter Street and The Silos. My first stop was at the studio of Marsha Glickman who does a lot of collage work. I was very impressed by the wide variety of materials that she used in her pieces.

Collage is a new artistic passion of mine. I am having great fun taking classes and visiting studios to see how other artists are doing this. There is no end to the types of materials one can use. Magazine pictures, found objects, beads, etc. are all fair game with collage. Here are some examples of Marsha’s work:

Then I made my way to Josena Arquieta who is a painter. Josena and I have teamed up to prepare a study in “Compassion” that will be presented next June at the Holocaust Museum Houston. She will make a visual representation and I will provide an essay.

Here is another example of Josena’s work:

So many talented artists! Never enough time! Never enough money! Never enough art supplies!

By the way, next Tuesday, October 15th, The Women in the Visual and Literary Arts (WIVLA) is hosting a pop‐up market at the Printing Museum. WIVLA is an organization where creative women can meet and network. Throughout the year there are art shows, poetry readings, and various collaborations among both the literary and visual arts members. At the pop‐up market you can find works of art by a variety of members. There will be a raffle and all types of artisan goods. The Printing Museum is located at 1324 West Clay. The pop‐up market will run from 5:00 p.m. — 8:00 p.m. I hope you can join us!

Until next week.….

What Language Is Spoken On This Road?

First the good news.

A good time was had by all at the art exhibition called Midsummer Light. It was presented by the Women In The Visual and Literary Arts. I really enjoyed being a part of this experience and exhibiting my photographs. If you did not get to the opening reception, the exhibition will remain up for your viewing pleasure until July 19th at the Christ Church Cathedral’s Cloister Gallery, 1117 Texas Avenue. The venue is open from 11 am to 2 pm Monday through Friday while Treebeards serves lunch.

In other news:

Sometimes I just have to laugh at myself. Sometimes I do things that just go a slight bit awry. Nothing huge. I’ve never killed anyone.….that I know about. If I did it was certainly a mistake. But sometimes all of the technology.….phones.….computers.….televisions.…..can just be a bit much.

For instance, let’s consider Amazon. I order things from Amazon. Mostly books, but sometimes other things. I have been buying things — especially books — all my life. Here is my most recent acquisition that I received on Tuesday. It is a book about Vincent Van Gogh.

First, I apologize for blogging one more time about Vincent. I know I have blogged about him quite a bit lately. However, it does involve my latest acquisition from Amazon and the reason for this blog will soon be made clear. Remember that patience is a virtue.

This book had been highly recommended to me. I was looking forward to receiving it. When I had it in my hot little hands, I sat down in my most comfy reading chair and opened the envelope. I liked the cover. I like a lot of Vincent’s self portraits. He did quite a few of them. I sat back and began to open the book ready to learn more about this artist.

As soon as I open the book I see another self portrait. I am happy. I am relaxed. It still looks like a really nice book doesn’t it? Look closely. Closer. Do you notice anything? At this point I was still happy and relaxed. I hadn’t noticed anything. But wait!

I turned a few more pages and began reading the content. Here is the content that talks about the painting of the potato eaters. I think that’s what it says. Yet, I don’t really know for sure, do I? Why don’t I know? Because I don’t read French! My book is printed in French. How did this happen?

I wasn’t looking for a French book. I spent 5 years studying Spanish. I have never spoken a word of French. Quickly I looked back at the confirmation I received from Amazon when I ordered this book. I look and look and keep looking. Finally down, down, down the email confirmation I go. I look very carefully at the very small print. Language: French.

EGAD! Lesson learned. I still like the pictures in this book. I will keep it and may use some of the photos for collage work. Who knows?

Maybe one day I’ll meet a new friend who reads French and likes books about Vincent Van Gogh.

I remain forever hopeful.

Until next week.….