Books: The White Queen

Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series, does an admirable job reviewing and sorting through the maze of the Lancaster and York dynasties as they unfold in Philippa Gregory's new book, "The White Queen."

Such a terrific turn of phrase, and au courant from Gabaldon, "Turning your back on morality for the sake of political gain will come back and bite you in the bum," and just goes to show politics never change, not in England then, not in the US now.

Arboreal: Cherished Trees

Maple Tree, 31 August 2009

Over at the Land of Lost Luggage trees are being photograped this week, and then two more times--an observation of nature.

I was unable to take a photograph until today, and see that the leaves are just beginning to turn brown and several are on the ground.

Too early, too soon, too rapid a summer.

The trees will be photographed again the week of November 8 and then again the week of April 4.

Coke, not Coke in La Paz

La Paz, Bolivia

Astounding to read that in addition to the wonderful ceviche (sometimes contaminated, and resulting in giardia), a local La Paz (Bolivia) bistro is offering up cocaine treats.

La Paz was my entry point into Bolivia, traveling from Cuzco (Peru) by bus and boat on a 22-hour expedition.

I was fascinated by our neighbour to the South, their culture, traditions, landscape and people.

Cristo de la Concordia, Cochabamba, Bolivia

However, as I was staying with my daughter and soon to be son-in-law in Cochabama, I had few dinners out and the few I had in La Paz did not include any form of coke.


Voting for a Kennedy

In 1960 I was too young to vote for John F. Kennedy.

In 1968 I was hoping to vote for Robert F. Kennedy

It was not until November 8, 1994 that I voted for a Kennedy, and that was for Senator Edward M. Kennedy in his re-election campaign. I was among the first in my predominately Republican hill town to put out a Kennedy placard.

I was living in Williamsburg and my daughter and I, she at Hampshire College, me fighting the HIV cause in Springfield and Holyoke (MA), both had our first exposure to a paper ballot.

I remember the smiles on our faces when we put those ballots into an ancient box and walked into a sunny Autumn day.

Living and working in Massachusetts I learned and experienced both the positives and negatives of staunch progressivism. The negatives have nearly dissolved from my memory, but the positives shine on, and one of the highlights was working with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Like the Senator, the MDPH offered a unique blend of landmark programs, reasoned compromise and demonstrated an acute awareness of the disparity in social justice.

In Boston, Springfield and its surroundings counties, the MDPH supported my idealism, permitted me liberties and succored me during the many losses I experienced as a care provider. When I requested a change in venue for HIV services to Roxbury from the Back Bay, they agreed. When I wanted to open a Living Center in Western Massachusetts for those infected and/or affected by HIV, they provided funding. When I wept at the loss of the many who fell to AIDS, they provided grief counseling.

Like the Senator, MDPH had and has vision.

And like the Senator, I endorse and fight for universal health care.

My wish is for TeddyCare now!

Which and What Pen or Pencil

I am grateful to these wonderful bloggers who tested pens and pencils. I have one or two of these pens or pencils, but not many, and as I am far from the maddening crowd of art suppliers, these tests are invaluable to me.

At Land of Lost Luggage, Julie Prichard tested a variety of pens on several acrylic substrates here.

Gentian at Drawing with a Squirrel did a colourful sample test of the Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pens here.

I have these and really like playing with them when writing notes with different colours. I haven't used them for any art project...yet!

Jana Bouc's journal compared three sepia pens and several sepia inks recently here.

I love the colour sepia and eagerly awaited the results of Jana's tests. I own all of the pens tested but only in black. I don't have these inks, but do have the Sennelier sepia--a lovely rich colour.

Alberto at Lung Sketching Scrolls has been very helpful with his recent reviews and photo examples of white coloured pencils, Caran d'ache Supra color watercolour pencils and the Uni-Ball #3 watercolour set.

Like Alberto after I got the Uni-Ball #2 watercolour set from Jet Pens, I ordered the #3 set. It's nice to know that these are the equivalent of the Faber Castell Albrecht Durer pencils, and that the Caran d'ache pencils are a good substitute for the Durers.

I will try to do a compare and contrast of my own white pencils, and do some doodling with the Uni-ball #3 watercolour set...later this week.

Bill Moyers meets Bill Maher

I doubt there is anyone more prepared, more literate and more experienced to speak about politics, whether it is health, war or policy in general, than Bill Moyers.

And to have Mr. Moyers on the Bill Maher show is like swimming in a sea of truth serum, bobbing up and down with pleasure, splashing with glee and wondering why no one else is saying the same things. Moyers holds nothing back, just speaks the plain ole facts.

I saw the interview here, here and here via Salon, and Glen Greenwald's column--someone I am taking seriously.

I don't have HBO but according to Mr. Greenwald the show will be re-broadcast.

Books: 100 New England Recommendations

The Boston Globe offers up 100 books, all genres, connected to New England to vote on, or put on your to read list here.

I was surprised by two facts: one, I had read one third of the books mentioned, and several outstanding authors from Maine and Vermont were excluded.

During my respective sojourns in Maine and Vermont, I made it a habit of focusing my reading on local authors and buying books at local bookshops. At the Leftbank Bookshop, (Searsport, ME) I had the pleasure to be introduced to several writers, one of whom stands out above the rest: Mary Peters, a novel by Mary Ellen Chase (Maine), a 20th century unsung gem of a novel recently reprinted

Ms. Chase's books are often hard to come by and appear on few reading lists. A former professor at Smith, she has a way of bringing one directly into the lives of her characters, enriching your reading pleasure with small peaks into regional Down Under life and capturing your imagination for all that is Maine.

Archer Mayor's (Vermont) more than a dozen mysteries all set in the Brattleboro area engaged my full attention. I had the pleasure of reading all of Mayor's published works (through 2007) courtesy of the Guildford Free Library of which I was a member. I could drive, walk or bike to nearly all of the mysteries' settings and occasionally one might spot Mr. Mayor in Windham County and wonder if he was spinning a tale or just enjoying a good cup of java.

Mayor is to Vermont what Tony Hillerman (was) to New Mexico and the Navajo--a writer that captures the locale and inspires a connection to its people.

Highly recommend a read by either author and most of the Globe's recommendations.

Kerry on Edward M. Kennedy


Edward Kennedy Jr

President Obama, Eulogy to Senator Kennedy

Unique Government Cost Savers

I was listening to the radio recently but as service drifts in and out here in the foothills, I didn't catch a reference to the program and after a thorough internet search I failed to find the show, but the concept sank in:

Washington State is releasing some of its handicapped prisoners and housing them elsewhere. It appears this relocation will save the State hundreds of thousands of dollars. The cost for housing in a handicapped facility is about 50% less than in prison.

Then I read that New York is jetlining the homeless out of town. It appears housing for a homeless family is approximated at $36,000 per annum while a one way ticket out of town is probably less than $1,500.

Good-bye (Uncle) Teddy Kennedy



Senator Edward Kennedy, RIP

As reported by the Washington Post;

the Boston Globe;

and the New York Times.

As reported by the Daily Beast;

Clips and timeline in Salon.

Video retrospective at Huffington Post.

Politico article and photographs.

Robert Scheer at Truth Digs on remembering.

Time Magazine writes.

Sorensen says.


Please let the trees stand

Saimiri sciureus (Squirrel Monkey)

Cutting down the rain forest is not only dangerous on an ecological level, it disrupts the natural order and synergy of vegetation and animal life.

About 20 years ago, someone from an agency in South America telephoned me pleading that I help them re-locate 10,000 monkeys after a destructive hatchet in Brasil's Amazon left them homeless.

They had heard rumours that I had saved some non-human primates from extinction and mistreatment by finding homes for them in zoos and outdoor parks.

Aotus trivirgatus (Owl Monkey)

I was aghast. I had no warning and less time to find a solution. I couldn't imagine any of my contacts taking or housing that number of dislocated Squirrel ( Saimiri sciureus) and/or Owl (Aotus trivirgatus) monkeys.

I only had room for about 40 monkeys in our animal facility and the place was full.

I grew more distraught as I made phone call after phone call, hoping to find a way to rescue them. But no one could take them.

I wept with defeat. I could nearly hear their cries as they cling to branches and were rounded up into wire cages.

If more of the forest is leveled, it will send instant shock waves through the boughs, and hurl more creatures into a homeless state or total extinction.

The way non-human primates are handled, dealt with and discarded is a scandal and out and out murder.

[New] Erotic Fundamentalism

Cristina Nehring writes a good essay on opposite sex relationships, persistent "new" or "old" fears of commingling and what appears to be another repressive stammer in the fundamentalist community. It might be the result of the Sanford-syndrome.

Having worked all of my adult life in a male dominated world, I'd have been as isolated and alone as is possible if I hadn't included those valiant male, often young, occasionally handsome, colleagues, into my life.

We had lunch, dinner and coffee together routinely. We went to movies, seminars, symposia and workshops in foreign capitols. We shared gossip, books, music and recipes.

We stood near each other on lunch counter lines, laboratory benches and at podiums.

In summer we might go out for a drink.

We invited each other home. One colleague slept on my couch for a week.

We did not have sex!

Did the subject come up? Yes.

Were there opportunities for dalliance? Yes.

Did we cross the line between friendship and amour. No; not if either of us was partnered in a committed relationship.

Did I ever have an affair with a colleague? Yes. But when and if I did and he did, we were single, unattached and uncommitted.

So fundamentally I find this whole issue of male and female fraternisation as silly as putty.


Books: The President, Dorothy West & the Vineyard

When I read this short piece in the Huffington Post on the history of blacks at the Vineyard, Dorothy West's book, "The Wedding" immediately sprang to mind.

The Harlem Renaissance always intrigued me, and on one of my work related visits to Harlem Hospital, I took a long, long lunch break and visited the Schomburg Center for Black Studies, part of the New York City public library system.

It was at the Schomburg that I learned of Dorothy West, the youngest member of the movement. And it was here at the library that I bought several books by Renaissance authors including Ms. West's "The Wedding."

The book provides a brilliant entry into life on the Bluffs of middle and upper middle class Blacks in the 1950s, the struggles within families and the different ways in which people adjust to those variations in colour, class and conditioning.

While not considered among the movement's favourites, West deserved more than a passing glance or the small portion of credit she received for her forthright novel, and generous gift of an insider's look at internal race relations during this historical period.

The Globe also offered up this piece, interviewing prominent Vineyard residents, mostly from Oak Bluffs and while five decades have passed, I know from my own experiences on the Vineyard, not much has changed.

It's All His Fault

It doesn't matter what the issue, it's all his fault.

Yes, the President's fault.

Yes that President who was elected in November and has been in office for about eight months.

It's all his fault.

It's his fault we have homeless in Washington.

Defending on your position, it's his fault we don't have health care reform. Or it could be his fault if we do!

It is most definitely his fault we are ending one war, still in another and not winning.

It is his cabinet's fault, and therefore his fault, that the economy is near depressive, post-recessive and has bottomed out.

He is responsible for anti-2nd amendment rhetoric and surely wishes to take all those (un)necessary guns away from the militia.

It is his fault that people in "open carry" States are taking firearms to town halls.

The President may be plotting to kill grandmothers like me, and force retired military to consider suicide.

He forgot to fire Blackwater.

What else?

I nearly forgot global warming and climate change. Is Jim Hansen right? Is the President doing too little or too much to squeeze his foot into a smaller shoe?

It doesn't matter what area of life, or issue, or idea, or philosophy, it is all his fault, and to make matters worse he is suspiciously Fascist, although some believe he is a Socialist. Then again, he could be the anti-Christ.

And don't forget he is racist.

He is also suspiciously un-American. It is likely he was not born in Hawaii but elsewhere. The where to be determined by the Birther Movement.

You chose!

And when you do chose, remember we gave President George W. Bush 8 years to be at fault.

Cruelty, not Decency

I find it despicable that rather than seeing Senator Kennedy's request for an early replacement as thoughtful, prescient and decent, the political powers to be see it as opportunism.

They must be looking into their narcissist mirrors to show so little decency for the Senator and his foreknowledge of his own demise.

An update from the New York Times.


Antonello da Messina, An Italian Master

l’Annunciazione di Antonello (Right side), 1474, Bellomo, Siracusa

l’Annunciazione di Antonello (left side), 1474, Bellomo, Siracusa

Although I had studied art, and in particular, Italian art, it wasn't until I went to Siracusa (Syracuse) Italy that I truly discovered the work of Messina (1430-79).

Antonello da Messina is credited with bringing oil painting from Flanders to Italy, and is among Italy's principal artists. While he is best known for his portraits, many of which are in galleries or museums in Sicily and internationally, it is his Annunciation that had me enthralled and gaping like a 3 year old for more than hour at the
Galleria Regionale di Palazzo Bellomo di Siracusa.

Annunciation, Leonardo da Vinci 1472, Uffizi Gallery (Florence)

Many artists, particularly, Italians, have painted the Annunciation. da Vinci's version, which I saw in Firenza more than 30 years ago, and painted a couple of years earlier than Messina's, has a similar feeling but does not necessarily have the same luminescent impact I felt examining and admiring the Sicilian's.

Rendered with tempera and oil on wood, the painting was in disrepair, with evident peeling and badly cracked, when I visited, and only a small wall hung replica provided the detail and colour Messina painted in the 15th century.

Close Up, l’Annunciazione di Antonello (left side), 1474, Bellomo, Siracusa

But even though the painting badly needs restoration, the two figures seemed as alive as if I was standing outside a window peering into a room eavesdropping on a personal conversation.

I thought about this painting today after reading an article on Russian icons and admiring some 21st century work by Igor and Marina, husband and wife, who paint luscious oils, uniquely and reminiscent of bygone days.

Alice in Wonderland and the Magic of Maggie Taylor

Alice Liddell, 1859

Have you ever imagined you were Alice, traveling through Lewis Carroll's Wonderland?

Alice's Adventures, Maggie Taylor ©

If you have, you might just love to see Maggie Taylor's artwork and illustrated Alice book here.

Paper Galore

Legion Paper's site is a handy way to check out a paper's usage, weight, availability and size. It also offers samples, one of the best ways to learn if a paper suits one's purpose.

Several new papers have become available this year, and although I could wallpaper the entire Delaware River community with my own stash of papers, I will probably get some samples of one or more papers that intrigue me.


A magic seashell

As they suggest, I was told & believed the sound I heard in the seashell was the ocean.

Now I know better.


Put-Pockets in Trafalgar Square

Oliver Twist, the Artful Dodger (BBC production)

What an amazing story: putting a ha'-penny inta ya pocket, says the bloke, not a takin' it 'way.

A group is putting as much as 20£ into folks pockets for the pleasure of giving.


It's 66


Summer Evening, June 1888

Vincent van Gogh, 1888

Exhibit at the Kunstmuseum, Basel through September 27 via The Daily Beast


Woodstock Remembered, 40 Years Later

Several of the speakers are my neighbours, one a good friend, and Bethel Woods is just up the road, down two turns and still standing, but looking all glossy. I always wondered how it came to be called "Woodstock" when in fact the town of Woodstock is miles away.

Discovered at McClatchy with an article.

Post Office Changes

Old Troy NY Post Office

I was at my friendly post office today.

Chip said, "Where ya been?"

I feel guilty. I haven't written a postcard, or sent a parcel for weeks.

But the news is the office will be closed each day from 11:00-12:30pm; close about 1/2 hour early each day; and remain open on Saturday until Noon.

But rumour has it: no Saturday deliveries coming up soon.

350 org launches artist POSTCARDS

Do you like postcards?

And wonder how to work for reduced global warning?

Perhaps you can meld the two and join the's artist postcard project.

New sketchbook blog: Cheap Joes

Cheap Joes, owned by an artist and one of several art supply stores I've purchased from, has had an art forum for ages, now they seem to have launched a blog they are calling, "Sketchbook: An Art Stuff Blog."

Photography: People of Omo

Via Artbistro

Related article about photographer, Hans Silvester and stills.

Art, Floating on the Hudson

Photograph: Michael Nagle, NYT ©

Well, I know I've attended some terrific concerts on this Brooklyn barge, and that several of my friends lived on barges on the Amstel, but this new adventure by two female artists--living full-time on a work-in-progress barge in New York City's harbour, is compelling and apparently complicated.


Sand Painting of Extra-ordinary Emotion

Discovered at Bibliophine Bullpen

Planning a trip to New Mexico? Art Expo

If you are planning a trip to New Mexico, think about going in mid-September to catch the Art Expo in Santa Fe.

The dates are September 17-20 at the Convention Center, not far from the Georgia O'Keefe Museum.


The President's Mother's Collection

Batik Pattern, Indonesia

Sixteen (16) batik pieces collected by the President's mother, Ann Dunham, will be on display at the Textile Museum from August 9 to August 23; read here.

Having roomed with a Dutch-Indonesian woman for several years, a friend for many, I recognize the pattern above as one of her favourite daily sarongs. Among other fascinating lessons, she taught me how to prepare nasi goreng, appreciate shadow puppets and admire batiks.


The Reveal of Disintegration: An Altered Page Production

Putting Dis-integration Together

Hanging the Disintegration on my porch.

Moving the Disintegration Bundle to my Maple

Progress reports of Disintegration here.

What I used: 1930s journal pages rescued from an abandoned Sicilian monastery, vintage music sheet, 2004 Valentine Day card, pages and cover of prayer book found in Park Slope (Brooklyn) in September '01.

1st layer: 8" x 10" canvas substrate, journal page, Blockx watercolour paint

What I added: Winsor & Newton, Blockx watercolour paint, background acrylic, Golden gel and matte medium, diluted white gesso.

How it came together!