Sunday, August 31, 2014

Art Work from the 70's and 90's

Yikes, going through old scrapbooks, I came across photos of paintings I had done decades ago! Forgotten about these altogether!

Back when, I was most interested in portraits.

This first is of a former friend of mine:

And the second was a combo of another friend of mine who had fabulous fields of curly blond hair, and Michelle Pheiffer, the actress, who was doing some gangster movie at the time that captured my imagination.

Friday, August 29, 2014

High Flying Chicks -1953

When I was 15, I lived in Morocco, North Africa. My stepfather was a supply officer, so we were usually sent to these undeveloped bases in the middle of nowhere for him to pull together. This one was in Sidi Slimane, an oil spot about 30 miles inland from Port Lyautey in what was then French Morocco.

The Commanding Officer's wife used to be an entertainer, so she decided to put on a show for the troops, pulling together all the talent from the soldiers, the wives and families that happened to be there. There were amateur dancers, singers, comics, and magicians all over the base, and so she devised a nightclub scene onstage, and the "acts" came on, one at a time, to entertain the audience. She wanted ME (the only available teen girl around) to play the barmaid, just background ambiance to make the stage more club like.

This is a photo taken to promote "The High Flying Chicks" -- it was posted on bulletin boards all over the base to entice the troops to attend the show. They did, and it was a packed house. Pretty risque stuff for 1953!

And this was a photo of the entire cast, at our dress rehearsal. The stage scenery wasn't quite painted yet.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Book Club/Writing Group

Okay, without trading, my life is getting pretty peculiar. More and more I resemble a hermit who manages to work four days a week. (in an empty office, btw, so I seldom see any people who are not delivery men or employees picking up pay checks).

I went to Meet Up. com and looked for clubs to join.(yes, I did!).

I had already tried a book club in Ft. Myers awhile back. It was a great group of women readers, who cooked dinners (for 20 people!) at their homes once a month. It was a long drive for me at night, but the killer was that nobody would drive to MY house when it was my turn, and dinner for 20 (that I could ill afford to prepare) turned out to be dinner for five. And they were unhappy because my house was hard to find. I was pissed. And quit.

But try again. The writers group I now joined was so full of their own self importance and terrified of being joined by a beginning writer or an obnoxious personality, that they couldn't even welcome me. Instead I got threats and told that it wasn't necessary to read my work OR even comment on anyone else's. What was necessary was that I read a book (written by an exhausted agent telling writers what not to submit) that started out teaching the evils of an excess of adjectives and adverbs. (writing 101.) I quickly removed my membership to that group.

The next group I chose was a political group, since I'm fairly isolated in Florida, a red state. Red Republicans, Red Necks, and Red in the financial matters of health and schooling. I tend to be VERY blue. I went to one meeting, where only one sole woman was waiting. We introduced ourselves. She was a regular, she said. "Have you done phone banks before?" My eyes widened. "Phone banks?" "oh, didn't you get the email?" No. I didn't. And I said goodbye and left.

Talk about depressed. I hate people, apparently.

Then, I thought, why not have what I really want? So I opened my own Meet Up.

North Naples/Bonita Writer's Group and Book Club

Now let's see if I can be welcoming to a lot of writers/readers who might want to join?


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Lucky by Tony Hoagland (poem)

If you are lucky in this life,
you will get to help your enemy
the way I got to help my mother
when she was weakened past the point of saying no.

Into the big enamel tub
half-filled with water
which I had made just right,
I lowered the childish skeleton
she had become.

Her eyelids fluttered as I soaped and rinsed
her belly and her chest,
the sorry ruin of her flanks
and the frayed gray cloud
between her legs.

Some nights, sitting by her bed
book open in my lap
while I listened to the air
move thickly in and out of her dark lungs,
my mind filled up with praise
as lush as music,

amazed at the symmetry and luck
that would offer me the chance to pay
my heavy debt of punishment and love
with love and punishment.

And once I held her dripping wet
in the uncomfortable air
between the wheelchair and the tub,
until she begged me like a child

to stop,
an act of cruelty which we both understood
was the ancient irresistible rejoicing
of power over weakness.

If you are lucky in this life,
you will get to raise the spoon
of pristine, frosty ice cream
to the trusting creature mouth
of your old enemy

because the tastebuds at least are not broken
because there is a bond between you
and sweet is sweet in any language.

--Tony Hoagland

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Memory Aids

August has been mostly about getting rid of fleas. I have a new monster vacuum that picks up everything but men, and I have salted, boraxed, baking soda-ed, and sprayed/vacuumed the furniture and carpets until they are begging for mercy...but still the dogs scratch. And Henry (the cat) too, but not as much. Right now they are sporting the ugliest flea collars known to man, and probably toxic as hell, but has it helped? Not a whit.

So I bit the bullet and made an appointment with the vet for today. Spice is overdue for his shots anyway, (Sugar got his on an earlier visit) and it's going to be a minimum of $240 for this little visit. I think that's so outrageous. But no moreso than the medical bills for people. I'm a Socialist at heart, I guess. Shouldn't the rich pay for the poor? Sounds right to me. Ahem. I got hit for $600 for a copay on that last eye surgery, months after the surgery and I really think those kind of surprises are cruel. But I digress...

The vet's assistant instructed me to bring in a fecal sample. Well, ugh. Well, okay. (knowing what the extra charge would be if I made THEM do it). So on our walk this morning, I brought a tiny plastic cup (the kind for measuring cough syrup) and some tin foil. I managed to make a neat little package, all wrapped up, without gagging, and when we got home (at 7:00 am) I wondered what I should do with it? My appointment isn't until 10:30 am! Obviously, it's not the kind of thing you want sitting around in Florida heat and humidity!

I sealed the tin foil package into a baggy, to make sure there's no odor, and decided to put it in the refrigerator, bottom shelf where only canned goods sit. Ugh, but there you have it. (Alright! Make a face! What would YOU do?)

But then! OMG, knowing my memory, for sure I would forget to bring it to the vet's office. How on earth would I remember to take it?

Well, one way for sure....I just put the car keys in the fridge too!

Just you wait! Bette was right when she said "Old age ain't no place for sissies." (She also said “Everybody has a heart. Except some people.” ― Bette Davis)

So have a heart. And a good day.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Let's Hear It for Donna Griffiths

Lately I've been on sneezing jags. No idea what sets them off. I sit down at my computer and wham, serial sneezing! I'm talking 15 or 20 sneezes at a time. I'm allergic to not trading. I'm allergic to going to work in the morning. I'm allergic to a boring life. So you get a boring post. Or perhaps you'll find other people's observations, below, more interesting! Interesting facts:

Sneezes are an automatic reflex that can’t be stopped once sneezing starts.

Sneezes can travel at a speed of 100 miles per hour and the wet spray can radiate five feet.

People don’t sneeze when they are asleep because the nerves involved in nerve reflex are also resting.

Between 18 and 35% of the population sneezes when exposed to sudden bright light.

Some people sneeze when plucking their eyebrows because the nerve endings in the face are irritated and then fire an impulse that reaches the nasal nerve.

Donna Griffiths from Worcestershire, England sneezed for 978 days, sneezing once every minute at the beginning. This is the longest sneezing episode on record.

Your one sneeze adds another 100,000 germs into the surrounding environment.

A normal sneeze travels at about 100 miles an hours, equal to 160 kmph.

You can't sneeze while you are sleeping.

Iguanas is the most sneezing animal in the world.

“Sternutation” is the medical term used for sneezing.

Humans can't sneeze with their eyes open and the reason is yet to be found by our medical experts, If you keep your eyes open by force, they can pop out.

If you sneeze too hard, you can fracture a rib.

If you try to suppress a sneeze, you can rupture a blood vessel in your head or neck and die.

All borrowed from the internet

Monday, August 11, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mama

Today would have been my mother's 96th birthday, had she lived. She died February 6, 2006.

This is a photo of us in 2005:

And this is a photo of my father and mother in 1937, a year before I was born (I can't help thinking Bonnie & Clyde, though they were anything but outlaws) Still it's hard to imagine, looking at this, that he would be a dead war-hero in just five years:

And this a poem I wrote shortly after her death (from my chapbook "Every Burning Thing") :

I Am Not Afraid of the Dead

I sleep in her nightgown,
wear her socks on cold mornings,
and while I brush my teeth,
she stares back at me. I am
smiling into the face of death.

I have keened in anguish
as mourners do; let guilt
gnaw on my mind—-morsels
of remembrance chewed
and swallowed, a dutiful meal.

In the darkness of night
we laugh, she and I, speaking
of flesh flab, bone rot, sour breath.
All that pain in preparation for
carefree repose, the fist falling open.


Friday, August 8, 2014

I'm Still Here!

It seems to me...and i may be just making it up...that I have consciously chosen to change my life -- I mean really BIG changes --over and over and over again.

I've often wondered if everyone has this sensation that they somehow "caused" things to change--by choosing to act in a different way, change jobs, move to a new city, learn a new endeavor. I look back at those decisions over a lifetime and I cannot count how many of them I've made. In retrospect, it looks a little like I am always sailing as fast I can, trying to stay ahead of ... what? Ennui? Unhappiness? Failure? Death? I don't know.

Perhaps my mother, who stayed in a miserable marriage for 60 years, incapable of change, was the source of my recreations. It didn't seem prudent to sit back and allow life to unfold. What seemed to work was to create your experience, pick it, choose it, and THEN suffer the consequences if needs be. It's called responsibility in some circles, foolishness in others. I really don't know.

But the fact remains, for better or worse, I have been the captain of my ship most of my life. Until fairly recently, that is. Then it seems that it all got away from me. Suddenly I was off the ship, in the current, being carried along at a rapid rate in foreign waters. Loss of control, loss of income, loss of home, loss of many things including friends and lovers. And going faster and faster. I'm waterlogged, exhausted, and yesterday under the weight of more calamities, I was forced to give up (for the second time in 1 year) my trading fund in order to survive financially. Those who know me know that trading is one of the choices that made me the happiest. It took me years to learn to do it and by the time I was able to actually know what I was doing, the money was needed for survival. I am in pain tonight, thinking about it. What trading represented to me was hope and freedom. A way of earning money and a dream for a brighter future than what's befallen me. All gone.

So, I guess it's time, once more, to start over. I have to remind myself of what I've done in my life that pleased me:

  • a disk jockey at 13 in Morocco
  • fought a bull in Madrid at 18; the bull was young too
  • studied acting with John Lehne and Uta Hagen
  • danced on The Ed Sullivan Show (in a bit part) at 25
  • married to an actor; married to an artist (not at the same time)
  • started a macrame/needlepoint business, teaching and selling yarns
  • worked for Werner Erhard at est in California
  • worked for American Heritage Publishing Co. in its heyday in NYC
  • worked in the movie business in Los Angeles
  • learned art and began painting in the early 90's
  • started my own software/accounting consulting firm which was successful for 10 years
  • learned how to make quilts
  • survived breast cancer and fought to keep "the girls" and won
  • began writing and publishing poetry and fiction in the late 90's
  • wrote feature pieces for local newspaper (northern California)
  • started my own literary publishing company and online literary journal for six years
  • cared for my sick mother for five years
  • sold and exhibited art work
  • taught poetry in adult education classes
  • wrote a memoir and published pieces of it
  • traveled to Europe twice as an adult, found my (war hero) father's grave
  • began study of Wall street (on my bucket list) and learned how to trade options and futures
  • retired to Florida in my dream house in 2010

  • and....then...the recession hit, my old house in NC wouldn't sell, the unpaid reverse mortgage was called in, and everything started to crumble. So be it.

    I've come out of retirement and gone back to work. I've sold my home, my car, my jewelry and now cashed in my wee trading fund. But I'M STILL HERE.

    There's some satisfaction in writing that list, and there's a lot of satisfaction in saying, goddamit, I"M STILL HERE. Sondheim knew.

    Which reminds me...I saw a documentary on Elaine Stritch's life, and it sure felt familiar!
    (I went to her apartment and met her in NYC decades ago, friend of a friend.) Always a big fan. So it seems only appropriate to post this video. (but alas, she's not here anymore.)

    ""I'm Still Here (From ""Follies"")"" was written by Stephen Sondheim.

    Good times and bum times, I've seen them all
    And, my dear, I'm still here
    Plush velvet sometimes
    Sometimes just pretzels and beer, but I'm here

    I've stuffed the dailies in my shoes
    Strummed ukuleles, sung the blues
    Seen all my dreams disappear but I'm here.
    I've slept in shanties, guest of the W.P.A., but I'm here
    Danced in my scanties
    Three bucks a night was the pay, but I'm here

    I've stood on bread lines with the best
    Watched while the headlines did the rest
    In the depression was I depressed?
    Nowhere near, I met a big financier and I'm here

    I've been through Gandhi, Windsor and Wally's affair, and I'm here
    Amos 'n' Andy, Mah-jongg and platinum hair, and I'm here
    I got through Abie's, Irish Rose, Five Dionne babies, Major Bowes
    Had heebie-jeebies for Beebe's, Bathysphere
    I got through Shirley Temple, and I'm here

    I've gotten through Herbert and J. Edgar Hoover
    Gee, that was fun and a half
    When you've been through Herbert and J. Edgar Hoover
    Anything else is a laugh

    I've been through Reno, I've been through Beverly Hills, and I'm here.
    Reefers and vino, rest cures, religion and pills, and I'm here
    Been called a 'Pinko', commie tool, got through it stinko by my pool
    I should've gone to an acting school, that seems clear
    Still someone said, "She's sincere", so I'm here

    Black sable one day, next day it goes into hock, but I'm here
    Top billing Monday, Tuesday, you're touring in stock, but I'm here
    First you're another sloe-eyed vamp
    Then someone's mother, then you're camp
    Then you career from career to career
    I'm almost through my memoirs, and I'm here

    I've gotten through, "Hey, lady, aren't you whoozis?
    Wow, what a looker you were"
    Or better yet, "Sorry, I thought you were whoozis
    Whatever happened to her?"

    Good times and bum times, I've seen 'em all
    And, my dear, I'm still here
    Plush velvet sometimes
    Sometimes just pretzels and beer, but I'm here

    I've run the gamut, A to Z
    Three cheers and dammit, C'est la vie
    I got through all of last year, and I'm here
    Lord knows, at least I was there, and I'm here
    Look who's here, I'm still here


    Tuesday, August 5, 2014

    Oh Mackie's back in town!

    Well, this cheered me right up!~

    The Rape of Europa (documentary)

    Last night, after HOURS of salting carpets and couches then vacuuming endlessly, picking up any semblance of FLEA, I collapsed to watch Netflix. (still no TV, but the Roku is a life saver). I found an old documentary called "The Rape of Europa" about the Nazis enormous art thefts during the war.

    Hitler, who had not made it as a painter when he was young, nevertheless had an abiding obsession for art (but nothing modern or progressive!) and systematically STOLE from the rich Jews of Europe, from museums, from every country he conquered. Billions of dollars worth of masterpieces, statuary, antiques, furniture, and gold. Rooms full of religious relics (Jewish) with precious metals and stones.

    I had heard of this heist, of course, but I had no idea the SCALE or the preplanning that had gone into it. Hitler chose his cities (for attack) based on which art he wanted next! Because the Jews of Europe were so cultured and often were the gallery or private owners of the great art works, one has to wonder if his evil mind didn't concoct his master plan of annhilation of Jews just for the purpose of plundering their worldly goods. I could feel my blood roil watching this thing. It was very well done, and one only had to add their own emotion and mix.


    Meanwhile, the flea battle goes on. I've given the animals their flea meds a week early. Yesterday I put pillows and clothes and anything remotely flea-able into the dryer for 10 minute cycles (which supposedly kills them). I put down salt and baking soda, worked it into the carpets, and slept with sheets of fabric softener all over the bed! (god bless the internet for information of what fleas hate.) And I vacuumed, and then vacuumed some more. Must repeat the cycle again today.

    One of my acquaintances said "this is why I am not a pet person."

    Read my lips.


    Saturday, August 2, 2014

    Flea Circus

    How on earth do they train fleas for these flea circuses? Are they real or just an urban legend?

    I can't FIND any fleas, but both dogs and kitty are scratching like crazy, and now I'm getting bitten too! In my case, I'm a mosquito magnet on our long morning walks by the coastal waterway, so I'm not sure if it's the same wretched reason.

    But if I could find the little buggers, corral them, train them and make some money, I'd be sure to give them a pint of alligator blood every day if they'd leave us alone.(It IS blood they live off, I understand. Bloodsuckers, like mosquitoes. Arghhhh!)

    Today is clean, clean, clean, spray, powder (some toxic crap that kills everything), vacuum, spray and clean some more. What a revolting development!!

    Both dogs are on expensive flea meds (which also handle ticks, heart worm and any ricin sent to me in the mail). So it's a mystery? Perhaps it's allergies? I could haul us all off to the vet, but that would cost as much as getting Fleabusters in. DIY, kid, keep cleaning!


    A few editing jobs flowing my way, and that's great news! Couldn't be more pleased.


    My boss is leaving for a week's vacation after his horrible ordeal. (He's been doing tests all week and still no final diagnosis, but it's clear that it's stress related and he's taking it very seriously. Big changes underway, and he and I are getting along great now. I think it's clear that I'm on his side and that employees are not the adverserial wild horses that need broken, that he might have thought. I even got a wee bonus from him for my help through this unfortunate health crisis. Baby needs new shoes! Hooray!