Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Shift

Baby me...

FACT: My mom won the door prize for getting old: cataracts.  She had surgery scheduled.

FACT: My dad was still in rehab, following a unexpected hospital stay.

FACT:  They needed help and I'm the only one around who can give it.   There are no other surviving relatives.   I may be the baby of the family but for now, I'm taking the lead.

If we're lucky, we have the blessing of having our parents with us for a long time.  If our parents age, we children have the difficult task of helping them navigate the transition to a new normal, where the definition of independence changes.  It's a tough road, and one that every child with elderly parents travels.  

And so a new normal takes shape.  One where abbreviations like MI (mobility independence) and ADL (activities of daily living) make sense and are thrown into sentences.  Where I make color-coded medication charts to simplify things.  Where home health care angels provide guidance and support, explaining medications and checking vitals (and double-checking charts to confirm I didn't make a mistake).  

I'm lucky.  Up until now, my parents have been very healthy. And, with the help of some new medication, home OT and PT, and diligent exercise, my dad will get better.  My mom's eye should be okay (though it's not a given yet, there's still follow-up to be done). And I will help as I can, thanks to the support of my family and the availability of lots of flights between NY and Chicago.

I'll be back here when I can.  For now, I'm off to the grocery store; I have some cooking to do.



Saturday, June 10, 2017

Garden snippets

It's been a crazy and emotional week.  You know what it's like. There's little time for much except what needs to get done, and keeping your sanity can be tough.  So how to keep balance?  For me, I've found solace this week in spending five minutes in the garden, watching it evolve from day to day. It's put on an incredible show and the pause in beauty has uplifting.  Let me share some of my garden with you.


I love these brush strokes of color
An inula emerging in the early morning light

A perfect bud ball. Love how this unfurls
The white poppies after the rain have technicolor accents

Blossom and buds; they're everywhere!

See what I mean? They're everywhere!  This rose looks like it's made of fondant
Salmon poppy with that hint of citroen.  Luscious


Friday, June 2, 2017

Hope springs eternal

I was on a domestic tear this past weekend, particularly outside.  Admittedly, it was necessary.  I haven't worked in the garden, really worked, for a few years.  I'd let the perennials -- and the weeds -- do their thing.  But I had an urge to actively engage with my "green space" and I attacked it with a will.  I dug up of dying shrubs, icky plants, and aggressive weeds, and tossed them into our compost pile.  I transplanted hollyhocks, and other such perennials, that had grown too large.

And then I started planting anew.  My beloved poppies are once again gracing the space in front of our stone wall.

The "traditional" orange poppy
This year I added white to the mix
An unexpected pink poppy in a pot marked "orange".  Love the serendipity of this

I planted annuals in the spaces "between".  One of my goals this summer is to eat at our patio table more often and I'd like to enjoy the beauty of our big pine trees and the splashes of color from snapdragons, verbena, and other such summer flowers.

 Some of the annuals, pre-planting
I also planted a modest vegetable / herb garden.

My marigolds "guards"

We'll have lots of fresh basil, cilantro and parsley for pestos and flavor, lettuce and tomatoes for salads and, if everything goes right, colorful carrots later in the summer.  It's a very active process to plant a garden.  In the beginning.  And then you pray for gentle rains and warm sunshine.  You hope bees visit, but not hungry bugs.  You cross your fingers that everything takes hold and grows in your garden, except for weeds.

Hope springs eternal.





Thursday, May 18, 2017

Spring Book Report

My reading has been as far-flung as the pollen seems to be this spring.  It's all over the place!  Here are some of my recent reads that I would recommend:


I think Hillbilly Elegy deserves the accolades it's received.  This is a memoir of a life shaped by culture and dire circumstance. But I also thought it was a balanced view of how efforts for change, no matter how well intentioned from the outside, need to be done in concert with the folks that will be impacted by the suggested changes.  A thought provoking book -  at times chilling and, at others, uplifting - of a part of America that doesn't often make the headlines.



The Maisie Dobbs series is an enjoyable one, and I'm pleased that the latest edition to the collection doesn't disappoint.  In This Grave Hour, the 13th in the series, finds the our British female investigator trying to solve the murder of an immigrant who settled in Britain after WWI. (Yes, a bit spooky in its applicability to today's debates.) I continue to find Maisie an entertaining and engaging character.  Do you have a favorite series?  (Mine are almost all murder/mystery books.  Hmmmm.....)



Paul Kalanithi's book should be required reading for everyone (along with Being Mortal) about the choices we may choose to make as we near the end of our life.  This is sad, no doubt, but it's also humbling. And, I think it's important for those of use with aging parents to consider how we'd like to help them maintain dignity.



This time I got my science fix from The Soul of an Octopus, a charming and well written account by naturalist Sy Montgomery, of her experiences getting to know captive octopuses (no, it's not octopi, I've learned; you can't put a Latin plural "i" at the end of a Greek word), seeking to discover them in the wild, and marveling at their intelligence and individuality.   This was particularly compelling for me after our diving trips this past December/January.  We watched octopuses ink, change colors, and scamper about reefs.  I don't think I'll eat octopus salad again.

An octopus on one of our dives.
What have you been reading?

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Bunnies on the Mantle

The stitched Easter bunny
Back in February, I showed you a canvas I had stitched.  Now the flat canvas has been transformed into a three-dimensional bunny that sits on our kitchen fireplace mantle for Easter.

The kitchen fireplace mantle
This is a wonderful time filled with faith, family, friends, and food.  I hope your weekend, whether it's spent in Easter or Passover celebration, is joyous as well.  

  

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Seeing the Light

Carrie Mae Weems, Untitled, 1994
From the Kitchen Table series

One of the interesting things I've discovered leading tours for the Picturing Love exhibition is that many people have a hard time considering a photograph from an art perspective.  Perhaps it's the predisposition that photography is "the medium that doesn't lie".

Well, photography is just as manipulated by the the hand of the artist as any other art form.

How is the photograph composed?  Has the photographer chosen to emphasize some elements and to hide others?  What's been cropped?  What might be just beyond the frame?  How does the decision to make the photo black and white vs. color influence our narrative with what we see?  The answer to each of these questions -- and more -- are the result of the photographer's artistic process.

I've been leading tours focusing on light.  Photography can't exist without light; it's fundamental to the photographic process.  However, photographers can choose to shoot in ambient light, enhance a setting with studio lighting, or increase/decrease the light in the dark room process. It's been a fascinating conversation point with guests.  In one case, the light serves as a metaphor for trust; in another, the light is as much a character in the narrative of the image as the people within it.  So I'd like to challenge you to consider light as you view photography.  Not passively, but as an active choice made by the photographer.  I look forward to hearing how this line of inquiry might influence your appreciation of the art form.


Friday, March 10, 2017

Love, Captured

Image from Katonah Museum of Art website
On Wednesday, we took the deep dive.  We started docent training for the KMA's upcoming exhibition, Picturing Love. I am fascinated by this exhibition.  All right.  At first blush this seems right up my alley.  But, I was intimidated.  We had 47 images that we needed to research, write about, and explain.  And, we had to be able to teach it all in two 2-hour sessions, sharing bios, making connections, clarifying process.

But, I'm in love.

I love, love, love this exhibition.  It includes such compelling imagery.  I've been surprised by the artists' process and intent, by the cultural context in which many of the images were created and the stories that are shared or intimated.  There are so many themes to consider in the exhibition within the  broader intent of showing how love has been captured on "film" by artists and the populace alike.  We're all interested in gestures of affection.

I'm leading the opening night public tour, at 6:30 PM on Saturday, March 18th.  I hope you'll join me.  If you can't make it to the KMA that night, I hope you'll find some other time to experience this fabulous exhibition.

Oh, and you can be part of it, too!  The KMA is encouraging the public to share their own images of affection.  You can send them in to pinmypic@katonahmuseum.org or tag your pictures with #pinmypic on Instagram and Facebook.