What’s Your Favorite Food?

Sitting at work, eating a lunch of cottage cheese and sunflower seeds, is not the right condition for a funny, deeply inspiring blog. So in researching something else deep in my posting past, I came across this post. It’s much more fun. And foody.

From 9/16/14 (and please pass the butter…)

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A funny thing happened this evening. I was all pumped up to write a blog about scheduling things in your life, when I read a fellow blogger’s (David Kanigan) blog called “Don’t Eye the Basket of Bread: Just Take It Off the Table” ( http://davidkanigan.com/2014/09/16/dont-eye-the-basket-of-bread-just-take-it-off-the-table/). It really is an article about how to exert self-control. Which, in that sense, makes sense. If it’s not in front of you you’re not tempted to eat the whole basket.

But I almost missed the point of the blog because I was thinking about fresh baked bread dripping with sweet, creamy butter.  Crispy crust, fluffy inside.  Which led me to daydream about my homemade spaghetti sauce, full of fresh tomatoes and veggies with a smattering of ground beef and/or Italian Sausage, dripping over vermicelli or linguine, fresh Parmesan cheese sprinkled delicately over the top, a small glass of merlot within reach, sitting quietly next to that basket of freshly-baked bread that I’m suppose to have taken off the table.

And suddenly I’m daydreaming about the wonderful world of food.

I’ve been on a diet — no — food behavior modification — for as long as I’ve been out of puberty. I have always had a love/hate relationship with anything that has more than 2 carbs and 35 calories per serving. It’s that homo sapiens thing…anything that is fattening is worth tasting. Of course, tasting, and indulging, are two different things.

They say one can survive on indulging in one tablespoon of anything. Buffet? No problem. One tablespoon macaroni salad, one tablespoon chocolate mousse, one tablespoon mashed potatoes along with one tablespoon gravy. Just think of what a decorative plate you would bring back to the table! One tablespoon from 50 different dishes!

But let’s face it. Living on one tablespoon of cheese souffle is like smiling at only one child at Christmas. Or having one cashew. Or hugging only one grandkid. Satisfying as a bath in ice cubes. We know we should be sticking to the one-tablespoon-rule for our health, for our diabetes and our cholesterol. And most times we do alright.

But sometimes our libido cries for liberation. It just cannot be satisfied with the one-teaspoon-rule. We try to tame it. We hide the food. We buy celery and apples and lean chicken and fish. We succeed where others fail. We lose weight, lower our cholesterol, add some years to our life.

But then something as innocent as a whiff of freshly baked bread or bacon frying and we’re whipped up into a frenzy of biblical proportions. Why is that?

I do believe in moderation. Fortunately for me, the older I get, the fewer things I can digest properly. A couple of cream cheese canapes is not worth the agony of hours in the bathroom later. Spinach Dip, Ice Cream Sundaes, Hot Cheese Spread, all no-nos with the digestive tract from Hell. Yet I have to admit, I cannot pass a chance to try a scoop or two. Just to check it out, you see.

I try to avoid get-togethers where rich foods are the center of attention. Most times I can say “no thanks.” But just as often I hear myself saying, “Just one bite.” Then my big-mouth libido takes over and bread and pasta and Ceasar’s Salads are the order of the day. And as I hang my head in shame, I still enjoy the crumbs at the corner of my mouth or the sweet slide of butter still on my tongue.

I guess I’ve lost the thread of this whole blog to the whims of the wonderful world of food. So let me ask you — what foods weaken your will power? Which sumptuous feasts make you moan with delight? Which part of the banquet table can you not pass by without sampling?

Think I will go bake a loaf of bread while I wait for your answer…

Fuzz Brain

thDo you ever have days where you feel…fuzzy?

Not cuddle fuzzy, not peach navel fuzzy, but cotton-candy-in-the-head fuzzy.

I suppose it’s best to count out major contributors, or at least fit them into the symphony’s score. Medication. check. A little, not much. Sleep. A little, not much. Stress. Much, not a little. Sugar. Cut way back. Alcohol. None. Smoking. Never. Other recreants. Not for 40 years. Blood Pressure. Surprisingly normal. Blood Sugar. Low as well. Cholesterol. Working on it.

So all second tier maladies accounted for. First tier…cancer, leukemia, dementia. All being watched.

So why the fuzzies?

I used to think that when I couldn’t quite focus it was because messages and stories were coming through from astral places. Not like direct alien vibrations, but, you know — inspiration from beyond. No matter what your belief system, there’s always someone from the beyond sending you positive vibes –Grandma, Jesus, Shakespeare. You can’t rationalize it — it just is.

So when the fuzzies used to come I had a hard time focusing on anything constructive. Like work. Or responsibilities. It’s like the fuzzies opened a hole to another dimension. One where logic is more like paper chains hung in the trees…pretty, but not practical.

It’s hard to think when your mind is full of cotton candy. You look one direction…it’s niiice. You turn around…it’s niiice. You look up in the sky, it’s…well, you get it. It’s like being high without drugs, religion, or the Patronus Charm.

During these  lost and found fuzzies inspiration is there for the taking. If you have the energy to take it. What I mean by that is that there are no rules in the fuzzies. Every design, every plot, every daydream has merit. Fireflies become faeries. High school teachers become drug dealers. The rosey pink of sunset becomes the daytime sky of an alien world.

I’ m not saying you can create the next Rembrandt masterpiece or write the Great American Novel while fuzzy. But when inspiration eludes you, there can be redemption in the clouds.

For example.

Tonight I was in the funky fuzzies. Spent 2 hours going through the same 6 folders looking for a piece of paper I knew I’d seen in one of them earlier this evening. I mean this is a big duh. How can you not find what you just saw? Fuzzies. After hours of curling one piece of paper after the other, I finally found what I was looking for in the folder with the receipts jammed into it.

So crabby as well as fuzzy, I posted such on Facebook. As I perused the mental states of all my friends, I came across a post about gorgeous blingy gladiator up-the-calf sparkle shoes. And I thought…Sunday Evening Art Blog! How cosmic was that?

Of course, cosmic can always be equated with chance, luck, calculation, physics, or a dozen other flow charts. The point is that even when you are wandering through the Cotton Candy Fuzzies you can get input for your creativity. Just pay attention. Know inspiration can drop in at any time and be ready to take note. Write it down, bookmark it, write it on your arm in eye liner. Just keep the message and come back when the fog has lifted.

The test, of course, is not to bring the Fuzzies into work tomorrow. If I’m not careful my whimsical nothingness will get lost in the stacks of data I’ve yet to enter.

Talk about the bottomless well…

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog — Face Off

Face Off is a competition/elimination series in which special effects make-up artists participate in elaborate challenges for a grand prize and the honor of being Hollywood’s next great effects artist.

 

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I know that the premise is television based, but the fascinating art that comes from amateur artists transcends the medium.

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Each week, the artists create monsters, aliens, goddesses, and other imaginary characters, and come up with strange and often nightmarish creations.

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If you can get past the bizzarre end product of the art, take a closer look at the talent it takes to create beauties and monstrosities.

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Like an art show competition, artists compete not only with each other but with their own creativity.

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Everyone has the same tools, the same timeline, yet they must come up with a design that has never been seen before.

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As writers and painters take images from the mind and bring them into the second dimension, prosthetic artists must bring that same vision into the third dimension, giving it depth, weight, and height.

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There are no computer generated effects here — only pure, hard work, deft fingers, and the drive to create something magnificent.

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Face Off is can be found on the SciFi Channel and at their website, http://www.syfy.com/faceoff.

Wearing Purple

I feel like I was shopping drunk yesterday evening. Of course, I did go out to dinner first, but I don’t believe either the walleye or the potato pancake contained any alcohol. Nor the McDonald’s ice cream cone.

But I digress.

In a couple of weeks I’m going to meet my bestie in Ashville, North Carolina, and hit the Art Scene like a internet data conversion analyst specialist online art director writer.  I was in need of a few new artsy outfits to fit in with my fellow abstractionists and surrealists, so I made a pit stop at the most fashionable store around — Walmart.

Now, I’m sure you have seen those pictures on the Internet of Walmart “shoppers”…the images that show off the uniqueness of the characters and their wardrobes. Well, walking out of of the store a half hour later, I am afraid I will be added to their hidden camera library.

First off, I bought a pair of capris. No problem. Except they’re purple. Which is to match the purple and teal print open style Kimono shawl. Which matches the teal peasant top.

What was I thinking?

Every early winter I write a blog about what women over 50 shouldn’t wear. Fuzzy purple leggings always leads the list. Now I’m afraid purple capris will be second. I am running parallel with all the advice I so willingly gave about dressing your age.

Now, the fuzzy purple leggings I’ve been exposed to and write about are a long way from the royal purple cotton capris that are peeking out of my Walmart bag. The fuzzy leggings are usually wrapped around legs that are too big to wear something that tight, and don’t have the advantage of a long tunic to hide additional large body parts. The purple cotton mid-calf pants hang loosely on my chicken legs, and the teal peasant blouse with the same undercurrent of blues will hang down far enough to semi-cover my estomac and derrière. (Sounds less offensive when spoken in French, no?) Then comes the flowery sheer scarf that set this whole wardrobe malfunction into motion. It’s really a pretty shawl thing…it’s sheer and light and one of those patterned things that chubby women shouldn’t wear.

Since I am in this wardrobe for the long hall, I don’t see myself as a chubby old lady in purple capris, but rather a tall, willowy creative artist with a thing for fashion. Since I don’t have to look at myself in the mirror too often, I can picture myself however I wish. When the breeze blows the kimono scarf around my body I can turn into the sultry maiden looking across the moors for her lost lover, or the skeleton thin strutter down the fashion runway. I can be the trendsetting Zelda Fitzgerald or the fashion pioneer Elsa Schiaparelli.

I can also be the poster woman for weird, over-colored, middle aged+ women. Pathetic, insecure, never quite fitting in, never really confident, drawing too much attention to herself wearing bright prints and too-bold colors.

But not today. Or tomorrow.

I’ll let you know how the outfit turns out in the light of day. After a good night’s sleep. And a shower. And some body spray. And a touch of makeup.

Oh my goodness — I just thought — is this totally unexpected phase reflective of the first few lines of Jenny Joseph’s poem….?

 

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat that doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me,
And I shall spend my pension
on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals,
and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired,
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells,
And run my stick along the public railings,
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens,
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat,
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go,
Or only bread and pickle for a week,
And hoard pens and pencils and beer mats
and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry,
And pay our rent and not swear in the street,
And set a good example for the children.
We will have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me
are not too shocked and surprised,
When suddenly I am old
and start to wear purple!

 

 

 

 

Chinese Magic

chinese-dragonI have a confession to make.

Sometimes in the evening, all by myself except the dogs and cats, doing a little research (not real writing), I’ve found myself checking into Netflix for background entertainment. Not so bad, really…

Except I’ve been watching these really strange, weird, truly localized movies from China and Japan. Period pieces especially, but fantasy ones too. Mojin: The Lost Legend. Journey to the West: The Legend of the Monkey King. Fearless. Seven Samarai.

And I have to tell you, it’s strange fun.

As one might expect, although there are universal themes that run through every movie, every culture has its own take on how to present those themes. Chinese and Japanese cinematography is every bit as amazing and imaginative as its partners in other countries. There may be a bit more martial arts  (at least there are in the movies I’ve chosen), and their approach to the walking dead and magic and monsters is unique to their audience. The music might sometimes be off (Jazz in Mojin?), but that might be to contrast modernism with ancient worlds. They do a lot of swearing in these movies, too, but since I don’t understand a word of it, I’m not offended.

There is something wonderfully mysterious about ancient Chinese and Japanese culture. To many who are born and raised in the United States in general and the Midwest in particular, these countries are as far away as the Andromeda Galaxy. The language, the traditions, are so different that you can’t help but be wrapped up in their heady perfume. Even if the genres are fantasy, you can learn a lot about a culture from the way they interact with each other. The things they say. The things they don’t say.

I am finding this true in art, too. I feel like I’ve lived so long with blinders on that I never knew there was art outside of Monet and Renoir. That a painting, a sculpture, a movie, can speak thousands of words about a person’s heritage, beliefs, and history. That the art of the Netherlands is just as mysterious and beautiful as that of Harlem. That there is a place in history for shoguns as well as scullions.

And all the fields of Creativity are speaking to us.

Of course, the main reason I don’t get much writing done is that I have to read the subtitles on the screen. (That’s how I know about the swearing.) And you really have to concentrate, because each movie has different inferences. Like the one I just watched was big into Mao’s Cultural Revolution. The one the other night was big into Buddha. And Fearless was about the founder and spiritual guru of the Jin Wu Sports Federation. Important conversations and innuendoes that you would miss if you were merely listening to the movie while, say, doing the dishes.

The Han Dynasty. The 18th Dynasty of  Tutankhamun. The Age of the Vikings  from 8th century to mid 11th century A.D. The Middle Ages. Genghis Khan, Emperor of the Mongol Empire in 1206. Worlds we can only imagine. Worlds only writers and historians can imagine. I just can’t resist books and documentaries and movies that put only a toe into those oceans of the past. Time travel of the most extraordinary kind.

Maybe that’s why these exotic Chinese movies interest me so much. Even if made in modern times, they reflect ancient traditions. Ancient worlds. Places I will never experience except in my mind.

But Ho! I’ve learned something too —  who knew they had the same swear words in Ancient China as they do today?

Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog — Jacek Yerka

Jacek Yerka was born in Toruń, Poland, in 1952.

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Yerka studied fine art and graphics prior to becoming a full-time artist in 1980.

As a child, Yerka loved to draw and make sculptures. He hated playing outside, and preferred to sit down with a pencil, creating and exploring his own world.

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Yerka resisted pressures of his instructors to adopt the less detailed techniques of contemporary art and continued to work in the classic, meticulous Flemish style he still favors to this day.

He creates surrealistic compositions Based on precise painting techniques, taking pattern from former masters like Jan van Eyck or Hieronymus Bosch.

Like many artists, Yerka pulls on thoughts and memories of his past to create these marvelous artworks.

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Yerka’s carefully rendered paintings (acrylics on canvas) are filled with images from the artist’s childhood, one heavily influenced by the surroundings of his home during the 1950’s, and his grandmother’s kitchen, where he spent much of his time.

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According to Yerka, “My greatest source of inspiration is always (and I bet will be) my childhood souvenirs – that places, remembered feelings, fragrances and technique of 1950s .”

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More of Jacek Yerka‘s wonderful art can be found at the Morpheus Gallery  and at his website http://www.yerkaland.com/.

 

Moments of Reflection

heart-flower03There’s a lot going on these days…a lot of bad things, sad things. So many of my fellow bloggers have covered this topic much better than I could. I am sad, because as of late I’ve seen the American flag flown at half mast more than at full. What does this say about the state of the country? Of the neighborhood?

I’d like to share two different blogs sharing the same world. Two different styles, one same idea.

If you get a chance follow the links and take a look at the world in two different ways. After all…it’s all the same in the end.

First is by my friend David Kanigan.

 

………My Goal: Exceed the 5.38 mile distance in March or run to the Sunrise, whichever comes first.

It’s like riding a bike. You don’t forget how to run. Right. A nerve in the upper left shoulder blade pinches. And this slides down to the lower right back achieving beautiful pain symmetry. Sedentary Suit on the move.  Jesus.

Both groins groan. The pads of the feet cry No! with each footfall. I’m breathing heavy, and this is downhill 0.2 miles in. Jesus Saves.

Running in twilight. Red shoes. Red shorts. Red Shirt. Blood Man. Heart over-pumping, lungs heaving but at least I’m lookin’ fine.

1 mile mark.

Cemetery.

Then, Darien City Police Station.

Baton Rouge. I’m on my back. The bone of his knee is crushing my rib cage.  His pistol is in my face. I need air.  I can’t breathe…

1.5 mile mark.

Church.

Charleston. My eyes pan across the wafer thin page of the Bible – I’m lip synching the reading of the prayer. I hear gunfire. In a split second, the full weight of the explosion lands, shrapnel shreds my chest. Astonished, I fall forward in the pew looking up at Jesus on the cross……

 

And then another from my friend Austin Hodgens.

 

Peace and Love, My Fellow Earthlings

My Fellow Earthlings,

I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the state of our planet, and remind you of one simple thing…

No matter where you’re from, the color of your skin, your religious beliefs, your sexual orientation, your political affiliation, or your financial situation, you will always be an Earthling.

I’ve never understood why we don’t think of ourselves as such.  After all, calling this planet home is the one thing that unites us.

My name is Austin, and I’m an Earthling.

Try it.  Listen to how it rolls off your tongue……

 

 

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