Thursday, November 9, 2017

WWII Veteran

My favorite story that he told us was not a pleasant experience he suffered during the WWII.  He is such a kind man with nerve endings exposed that the fact that he would even tell the story is amazing. 

He was in the Battle of the Bulge in December 44 to January 45.  It was the worst winter Europe had suffered in decades.  The American, Allies (and German) soldiers dealt with bitter snow and cold. 

Stewart was in the front lines and they could easily see German troops advancing and as trained as an infantryman he used his weapon and fired.  One German soldier went down but was snared by a barbed wire fence and died in that position and was frozen in place.  Stewart could see that grotesque figure for three days.

As he told the story he was not emotional, rather was matter of fact as though telling a tale he had read in a book.  But I knew better.  That experience affected him his whole life and I am sure daunted him to his grave.  He even met with PTSS support group at the Veterans’ Hospital monthly.  There were boys from so many wars sitting on chairs in a circle retelling their experiences in the Korean, Vietnam, Desert Storm and little known wars in Cambodia, El Salvador, Liberia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, all veterans telling their stories.

Stewart was the only WWII vet and the other younger soldiers must have considered him the wisest man among them and probably considered that their stories would follow them for the rest of their lives, too.

Yet he told his story in his classroom for years as an example of how important it is to get the truth out.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Autumn in the Air

The feel of autumn hovers over the city this morning. The light is so low outside it seems like evening.  It is cold even with my thick robe on and I want to make hot chocolate and sit by a roaring fire or go back to bed.  Fall is more than knocking on my door it has burst into my abode and I want to take the chill out of the air.  It seems that summer has passed every so quickly and I wish for more sunny days with a warm sun.  My maple tree has turned shades of yellow, orange and pink in anticipation of the time all the trees fall into slumber to tough out the approaching winter.  

My favorite time of fall is when the sun is out, with a roaring blue sky and leaves clutter the sidewalks so that I have to trudge through them, tossing them up into the air and smelling the coming time of breaking down of plant material.  It is Nature’s clock reminding us that we need to slow down, savor the few days of Indian summer until we are hold up in our borrows to brace against bitter cold winds and pelting rain.

It is time for football, band music, women wearing mums on their lapels do women do this any more?  At the U of Oregon the crowds walking to a Ducks game women wore bright yellow mums adding color to dark brown wool coats and mufflers.  I loved going to the games and sitting in the Knot Hole section I think it cost all of a dollar.  The natural grass field was a trial for the players, especially if there had been a good rain, and parts of the field became mud puddles.  It was great fun to see the players slide through slosh, obliterating not only their jerseys but also the line markers.  Only the quarterback was pristine in his uniform, his guards, tackles and receivers were all covered on mud.  And on a good rainy day the football was like a greased pig and no one could hold on to it.

Now the games are essentially played on artificial turf. I would watch the Green Bay Packers play on real turf and even snow and the other teams seem to play a kind of pantywaist kind of game, staying clean and pristine on essentially a rug.I long for the old days.  Like the changing seasons I have to expect change in everything else.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Pardon the Noise?

If the Blue Angels are so good why do they have to practice?  Those guys are nuts.  They take several  days to practice screaming over Seattle chasing crows out of the trees sending the seagulls into tailspins and the chickadees and sparrows completely disappear. I don’t find this flying team entertaining at all.  And I really think that what people find fascinating about them is the hope just a little bit that they make slip up just once and careen into Lake Washington while the crowd gasps really loudly and the media people go crazy re running the tragedy over and over and in slow motion.

My friend’s dogs take refuge in bathroom tubs cowering, thinking the world is coming to the end.  To say nothing about immigrants who have fled their warn-torn countries to find refuge and peace in the US and then they are faced once a year with a barrage of F/A-18 Hornets, twin engines, supersonic that can go Mach 1.8 and greater.  What that means is that at times during dives the blood can rush to the pilots feet or to their heads.  Imagine shifting all the slosh inside our bodies all our guts and organs rushing to our feet or trying to find room in our heads. What fun is that for a pilot?  And they are so damn close to one another or heading straight for one another at tremendous speeds.

I know the Navy needs a little PR to attract potential pilots but I think there are better ways then 40 million dollars each year to have this demonstration team. I mean things would be different if we were actually in a war and these guys would flying to support the ships.  In 2013 the budget was cut and there was peace and quiet in August in Seattle and I don’t believe for a moment that all our citizens were so disappointed not to see them again.  I have to deal with them every year and next year I will flee to some quiet place like the San Juan Islands.  I won’t choose Whidbey Island because of the Naval Air Station on the island which house tactical electronic attack squadrons of EA-6B Prowlers and EA-18G Growlers. They can really set up a racket, too.  “Pardon Our Noise – It’s the Sound of Freedom”.  Give me peace.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Art in Public Places

She was sitting alone, grossly over weight, missing teeth but had beautifully manicured hands. She was sitting in front of Georges Seurat’s “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte”, and was transfixed by the painting. Although I wanted to step in front of her to see the detail of the Pointillism brush technique but it would have been rude of me to do so.  I only had a week in Chicago and I was determined to spend as much time as I could at the Chicago Art Institute to see their collection.

I was staying across the street at the Chicago University Club.  This was a trip, a sentimental one, that I had planned for a long time.  My father studied art and graduated from the Institute in 1915 and I wanted to walk the halls, stand in the studios and spend time in the Ryerson Library where he had no doubt studied.  The library was completely restored in 1994.  I was stunned to be able to read the catalogs from the shows offered when my father was going to school there, including the Armory Show of 1913.  I was humbled by the library and felt privileged to be sitting there.

My expectations had to be tempered somewhat by what I wanted to see in the galleries and what was available and on display.  I always have a sketchbook with me to take notes and information to be able to look up later.  On the one hand I was a little irritated that this huge person was hogging the painting but on the other hand it was an chance for me to sit on a bench and sketch her, after all an enfant terrible would relish the opportunity to have a model like this, and would send a fauve into ecstasy. This is what an artist would look for – not the obvious but the subtle layer underneath.

Monday, June 26, 2017

This is News?

Did you catch the big story on the news last night?  The reporter was so excited that one might have thought that she was announcing that a cure for cancer had been found.  No.  She said that a whole flock of new emojis have been released which will thrill those who have cast aside the English language to use dumb, cartoony, infantile, mindless graphic images instead of real words.  What is this world coming to?  This is supposed to be “news”?

Did you know that the English language has more words than another language in the world?  Now we can be restricted to the 1,851 emojis and we don't have to bother with the subtleties of language.  Cast aside such descriptive things as adjectives, verbs, nouns pronouns and modifiers, just visual grunts if you will. Instead of describing the subtleties of that first cup of coffee in the morning we can just say instead ☕️❤️.

Friday, June 16, 2017


“Women's Day should be Everyday” ....Pardon me while I get up on my high horse.  I am not for any day that is exclusionary and I never have much appreciated them.  Why should a special day be set aside to celebrate a portion of the population pie, leaving out everybody else?  Somehow I find it undemocratic to focus on a day which includes just a segment of the population.  In other words we should celebrate and respect everyone on every day 

Growing up I loathed it when Father’s Day came around and I have never bought a card.  Now there is Grandparents Day, which I put up right there with the bumper sticker which says, “Happiness is being a grandparent” or “My kid is an honor role student ”. 

I swear naming new days is a ploy of Hallmark to see more cards.  Do you suppose that this is the start of a rush to name yet another day?  How about a Gay Day or Straight Day, which Bi and Trans people might find objectionable.  If there were a Dog Day, then cats would get pissed off.  How about Paraplegic Day, leaving ambulatory people up in arms?  A Red Hair Day, or Blonds Only Day (no dark roots) might bother bald folks.  There is a Veterans Day but no Returned Peace Corps Volunteer day nobody to celebrate us.  

Let’s just keep the old days going and delete all the new ones.  I think Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the Fourth of July are fine.  They have a history and don’t shout out “Look At Me”.  And of course birthdays are important.  But save me from yet another new day to celebrate. 

I am now stepping off my high horse if I haven’t already been thrown.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

My Friend, Snoopy

Pets are humans best friends.  As a child growing up I adored neighborhood dogs and frequently I would bring home strays and my mother would telephone the dogcatcher to have the animals taken away.  She was allergic to all kinds of animals especially cats and would have an asthma attack to even step into a house which used to have a cat living there.

I dreamed about having a dog and would have been more than delighted to have been given a puppy at Christmas time or my birthday but that was never to be.

How I envy friends who have companion animals in their lives, but am so thankful that they have shared them with me.  Take Snoopy, Annie’s Border Collie, who greets me with ecstatic enthusiasm - a complete display of unconditional love, and tries to talk to me, probably saying things like, ‘It is so great to see you Lucy, you have made my day, I am thrilled that you have come to visit.  So glad that you are here.”  

Yesterday he bound up onto the sofa where I was sitting and gave me a French kiss before I knew what was happening.  It took him about 10 minutes before he settled down to take a nap on the rug.  He had had a wonderful morning going to the park, running and running in the rain after a Frisbee and then plunging into the lake.  He had taken on the day full force in spite of the weather.  One has to learn from dogs to enjoy every moment.

Monday, May 8, 2017

A Beckoning Train Whistle

In the distance she could hear the call of the trains and considering her current status in life she was about ready to pack her bags. 

She had just spent the last five weeks with her husband in the ICU at the USCLA Hospital, where he finally succumbed to his deteriorating body, too old to fight the battle, his soul was willing but his heart was spent.  And there she was now a widow.  Surrounded by supportive adult children and grandchildren she didn’t have to lift a finger.  They took over the house and the kitchen like an invading army getting everything in order.

There were things to attend to, finding photographs from the past, sorting them in order of events that were important to the departed.  The NY Jets is the family church and everything they could find to display was out on display, the Jets flag hanging on the side of the house, the “Go Jets” banner strung across the driveway, Jets jerseys worn by everyone, Jets earrings, tennis shoes, hats and even a real Jet helmet, and a miniature Jets pick up truck with doll house furniture to display a tailgate party was featured.

Everyone was invited to the life’s celebration party, two open bars, tables of food, ice chests filled with beer, wine and soft drinks were offered to the guests.  The bartender, waiters, and house manager from the departed favorite's watering hole came to offer their respects.  People told great stories about the honoree and gales of laughter ricochet off the mountains and all thorough the neighborhood.  She stood among all of them greeting each one and thanking them for coming. She looks frail and spent but her character is one of grace.

After the crowds left well past the appointed hours, she stood outside on the deck and heard the Starlight Express clicking over the tracks, then she knew she had to pack her bags and start an adventure, one of hope, peace and pleasure.  She was on her way.  

Friday, April 21, 2017

Remembering Jerry Ward

His poor old body was a shipwreck but his eyes were the eyes of a ten year old.   He was grizzled, failing eyesight, slightly stooped but inside he was still a kid. He never complained. 

Twice a week he would take the city bus from his house on the hill down to the water to the Santa Barbara Sailing Center to rent a rowing scull.  It was white with two long oars and included a rear view mirror so that he would not bump into anything. 

He loved that little boat and everyone who saw him were delighted to see him having such a fine time.  He pretty much stayed in the marina as the waters in the SB channel can get a little choppy. 

Once his little boat had been lowered and he had been assisted into the boat he would grasp the oars and set out with a rhythmic pattern feel the pressure on his legs, enjoying the easy movement over the water.  He was reminded of his boat on the river in Connecticut and as a boy he would take it out just about every day in the summer.  As he got older he built a Lightening with his dad and they sailed it on the Sound.  As a grown man he graduated into a 39-foot ketch and often sailed with his family.  He never lost his love of the water, such a soothing effect on an overworked creative mind.

His life was a metaphor for open waters, choppy and even at times chaotic but he always managed to get safely back to port.  At times he wavered into unknown waters to test his skill but returned to his dock with the knowledge that he should stick to his known routes.

He was adored at the local watering holes with his positive nature and gregarious personality.

He was a sailor at heart right up until the end.  His little boat is at dock now, filled with white rose pedals a testament to his life.  

RIP Jerry Ward 1932-2016

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Easter Hat Shopping

It was getting pretty close to Easter Sunday and Pandora was desperate for a new chapeau. Harriett’s Millinery Shoppe on Harrison Street had a large display of new hats and Pandora must have stood looking in the window for a half an hour before entering the store.

When she opened the door a little bell rang and Pierson Crumly, Harriet’s awkward young nephew, was on a tall ladder busy dusting the shelves and he stopped, overcome by Pandora’s beauty.

“Morning, Miss,” he said shyly.

“I’m wondering if you might let me try on the pink and white stripped hat in the window,” she said.

“Certainly, Miss, I’ll get it for you,” and he jumped off the ladder to rush to the window to retrieve the hat.

Pandora puts on the hat and admires her reflection in the mirror on the counter.  She arranged different hat angles and particularly likes it tipped forward on the left side.  She takes a side gander and seems pleased with the effect. 

“Could you please tell me the price?’ she says.

“Yes, Miss.”  He reached inside the headband and finds the price tag.  “It’s $13.50,” he says.

She looks disappointed and trying to gage the reason says” It is very becoming on you and will certainly be a prize hat a the Easter Parade.”

“I like it very much but only have $12.00 in my purse.

He tries desperately to appease her.  ‘Oh, silly me, we have a sale on today and it is only twelve dollars.”
Pandora breaks into a big grin and searches through her purse for the correct amount.

“Thank you, sir, for telling me.  I was afraid that I couldn’t afford it.”

Pierson places her hat in a big box, puts it in a shopping bag and hands it to Pandora. She turns quickly and leaves the shop.

Pierson places the $12 on the counter, reaches into his pocket and adds one dollar and 50 cents to the pile of coins, picks them all up and opens the cash register and puts the money inside and closes it. The register says: “$13.50.”

Saturday, April 8, 2017

RobertaSue Fashionista

RobertaSue is a character (who insists that her name is all one word but two capital letters) who came to me over time through daily writing prompts. My two writing buddies and I have to use the prompt in the first line, set the timer for seven minutes, then write away until the alarm goes off.  This prompt line was, "Her hats and clothes speak volumes."

Her hats and her clothes speak volumes.  I don’t know where RobertaSue gets her taste but it is as though she has never looked at a copy of Vogue, Elle, or Glamour to get some fashion ideas.  She does all her shopping in at Goodwill, Value Village and the Funky Jane’s in Fremont, and thinks she is dressed to the nines always, but I don’t want to break her illusion because she is the most entertaining sack of feathers and fabric I have ever seen on one person.

She is outrageous and I don’t want to cure her of that because she has so much fun.  She spends at least two days a week shopping for her frocks and her closet is filled with hat boxes putting Hedda Hopper to shame.

But mostly she looks like a hat rack escapee from the Daughters of the Revolution meeting hall. Her favorite outfit currently is a canary yellow-two piece serge suit, with a chartreuse collar and a huge Panama hat with blue and green Macaw feathers, looking like the beautiful bird just crashed into her head at a high rate of speed.

We were invited to a high tea at Mrs. Farnsworth’s house on Sunday and RobertaSue trying to impress this grand dame of town suited up in what she thought was her most stylist outfit.  I had to say that it certainly was a major fashion statement not to be imitated by anyone in the future.  She wore a pair of Gucci gold leather platform shoes with five-inch tall rainbow colored soles with neon pink and purple thigh highs.  She had a blue and red plaid pleated mini skirt stopped off with a white blouse and blue velvet blazer trimmed in gold braid.  Her hat was very tall and dripping with yellow and blue tulle a contender for first prize at the Royal Ascot Week.  RobertaSue thought she looked like a sophisticated English school girl but came across as a Champion Costume mannequin wantabe.  She means well and certainly brightens up a dull rainy afternoon.  Mrs. Farnsworth has impeccable English manners and didn’t bat an eye when RobertaSue walked in, or I should say tittered in, on her thick-soled shoes.  Several ladies were stifling their merriment behind gloved hands and tried not to stare.  I for one found this costumed performance a riot and had to give RobertaSue credit for having so much chutzpah and greatly livened up what would have been a prosaic gathering.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Seattle Women's March

It was a doozie of a crowd, women, men, boys, girls, babies and dogs all walking into the Seattle Center after their epic three and a half mile march.  Just imagine an enormous river of people, 120,000 strong
(Seattle Police Department estimate, but organizers said it was more like 150,000) , marching along carrying the most wonderful hand painted signs.  In any case it was a lot of folks for sure.

They were a civil crowd with the most imaginative statements, hand painted on signs all obviously having learned their civics lessons well.  They made me proud.

It was wonderful example of a grass roots wave of discontent done in the most respectful way possible.  Thank you fellow Washingtonians for speaking and displaying your minds.