Thursday, February 28, 2013

Learning History The Easy Way

Bare with me as I describe once more my new community, Oakmont ,where today it is exploding with pink blossoms and yellow daffs like Bouchard's Garden, but where for me the tree pollen is also playing soccer in my sinuses. Its a tradeoff. Hopefully the shot I got yesterday will kick in before I honor the urge to drive a railroad stake into the middle of my forehead, which is what I yearn to do. Many, including me, have primroses and camellias (I've planted two). The women with me in the photo below are part of a new Rainbow Women Gardening group I just started.
Every Sunday morning they have a free lecture here which goes by the name of Sunday Symposium.  Another event to keep our brains percolating. Last week the topic was "Learning History Through Great Art" and it was magically entertaining as well as educational. About 150 sat entranced as Dr Bruce Elliot emerged from behind the curtain in burgundy velvet with thick neck ruffles and pantaloons, right out of a French Court scene. I arrived late so was seated in the front row. You can see my thinning grey hair where I'm seated on the left if you look closely and you are able to pick up the link shown at the bottom of this blog.  Dr. Elliot's premise is that we learn history best by studying the art of the period. He started in about 400 AD and in 90 minutes took us through the 18th century.What a delight.

Another enlightening event occurred Wednesday night as PBS aired the three hour documentary of the history of the Women's Movement. I thought I was pretty savvy about the subject but I surely learned a lot.  For me to sit up till 11 you know it has got to be good.  If you missed it try to see the rerun, probably in March.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Hot Off the Press

Fridays between 1 and 2:30 about fifty of us gather to consider the news. Hot topics at the current events weekly meeting today in ye olde retirement community were sequestration, the 50 year anniversary of the Feminine Mystique, and the new test promising to nip leprosy in the bud. One can't say we don't have a wide range of interests. I raised my hand to speak on the horror of women loosing abortion rights in four states but was never called on.
The leprosy test was news to me (NYTimes). Its a simple test, requiring only one drop of blood, developed by American researchers and registered by a Brazilian drug  regulatory agency. The price will be $1 or less. If early diagnosis is achieved, a cure can take place in six months or less, eliminating the awful stigma and disfigurement.  Annually 250,00 people in the world are newly diagnosed with leprosy, formally called Hansen's Disease.  Brazil and India are the worst. One time my sister and I took the mule ride down the cliff in Molokai to tour the leper colony.  It was scary, (the mule ride) and depressing (the patients).
I think of my roots  as distinguished by clever and fairly intelligent individuals, but so poor on both sides they never had much education and therefore amounted to little. I guess survival was the goal. I'm pretty sure my fraternal grandfather was a horse thief, not to mention womanizer.
The one exception is my cousin Dorothy Clarke Wilson, who died in 2003. When my dad was a young teenager he and his sibs were sent to Maine to live with an aunt and uncle, a harsh Methodist minister who had no children. My dad ran away at 14, hopping the rails back to Colorado. Years later the Clarke's had one girl, Dorothy. I was in my fifties when I first met her.  Dorothy went to Bates and graduated Phi Beta Kappa. As a minister's wife she had little money, but she became a playwright and an author, and a quite famous one. I adored her from the first moment we met. Today after the meeting I searched my shelves for her book on leprosy, Ten Fingers of God, the story of Dr. Stephen Brand, but could not find it.  For her research she travelled alone to India twice. What courage. I knew Dorothy too briefly, but she touched my heart and my soul.  I hope I have a few of her genes. She would be ecstatic to learn of the new test.

Friday, February 15, 2013

My Damned Cup Runneth Over

This week several wonderful things happened: I graduated from physical therapy; Oakland friends Nancy and Chuck Overton and beloved Spaniel Sarah came to visit; I organized and launched both a lesbian book club and a lesbian gardening club at Oakmont; and I did my first six laps in the East pool here since I broke my hip. Even though the water was lovely and the temperature on my deck was 80, as soon as the sun went down I became quite chilled. I remembered the hot chocolate in Lyon, so attempted to make myself some. It couldn't be that hard, could it?
Most guests say how blessed I am to possess a massive Wolf range and microwave oven here.  They came with the house, and would be my last choice if I were the kitchen designer. First off I have never cooked with gas, and fail miserably at trying to adjust the heat. Soups regularly boil over or else they are tepid. Secondly I can never calculate how long the microwave should take to heat a cup of liquid. It often takes me three tries, or like last evening, my cup runneth over...
So, dear painter friends, here is a subject for you for a still life. You don't get to see the part that ran over the edge and down the wall.  Drat. There was not much left to drink! I went to bed with cold feet and quaking limbs.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Coming to Terms with Globalization

A deep chill runs through my bones this afternoon and try as I might I can't seem to warm myself. Its only 4:30 and I have already changed to my flannel jammies. I'd sink gently into a hot bath except I'm not sure my new hip applauds the idea. The sun is shining brightly but snow is predicted down to 2500 feet which means the bay area may see white on the top of the peaks. I'm remembering a cold afternoon in Lyon,France when Jan Hagan and I, playing tourist, were similarly chilled to the bone. It was a joy, then, to discover a lovely patisserie that would make us hot chocolate. Never have I tasted anything so wonderful. Rich beyond measure. Steamy hot, served with French flair. The memory even warms my toes. This afternoon I attended my favorite group (so far) at Oakmont, Current Events. About fifty people attend weekly. The volunteer leader puts on the board subjects hot in the news and attendees are invited to nominate their own subjects as well and to discuss them. I suggested the Boy Scouts decision making to put off accepting gay members, but no one else seemed motivated to debate that subject. Instead much time was given to globalization. I learned a lot. Globalization (or Globalisation) is the process of international integration arising from the interchange of world views, products, ideas, and other aspects of culture. Was our delicious hot chocolate an aspect of globalization? I'd like to think so. It certainly made me cherish France even more than I already did. In closing today one member shared the following, which I guess is circulating just now in cyberspace: Q.What is the truest definition of Globalization? A.Princess Diana's death. Q How come? A. An English princess with an Egyptian boyfriend crashes in a French tunnel, riding in a German car with a Dutch engine driven by a Belgian who was drunk on Scottish whiskey, followed closely by Italian Paparazzi, on Japanese motorcycles, treated by an American doctor, using Brazilian medicines. The story goes on and on but that is enough to tweak your funny bone. I believe it was the same day in Lyon that Jan and I discovered a wonderful old merry-go-round. I have a photo depicting five children in one of the containers to ride in. I wish I were in it now.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Free Association

Interesting how the mind wanders. This morning, picking up clutter, I came across my weathered old Girl Scout Pocket Songbook. I feathered through the pages, recalling folk songs and rounds I had long forgotten.
Growing up I always treasured my membership in the Camp Fire Girls, but by high school years there was no group where I lived and so in my junior year I joined a Girl Scout Marinership, feeling understandably a traitor to the cause.  Yet it was a wondrous experience. Little did I know that a decade later I would be a dedicated Girl Scout professional worker, a career I followed for nine fulfilling years.
Getting back to the story, though. Shortly after joining the Flying Cloud, as we called our Mariner group, Lady Baden Powell, the Chief World Guide and wife of Lord Baden Powell the founder of the Boy Scouts, scheduled a visit to Victoria, BC. Of course we attended. I remember standing on the field in a big arena to shake her hand, like perhaps a thousand other scouts. She looked intimidating and ancient to me (she would have been 57). I was new, and had no uniform. Yes, I was a little scared. I remember her handshake and her words to me:"But my dear, where is your u-ni-form?" Blushing I explained I was new and had none. Then she said firmly but not unkindly, "Oh, my dear, we MUST wear our uniforms...that is how we REC-OG-NISE one another."
This morning in my mind's wandering I thought about what it would be like if all NRA members wore uniforms so those of us who opposed them would know our opposition by sight? And what would it be like if Mac owners wore a big apple tee shirt all the time?
This week the Boy Scouts of America (it should be the Boy Scouts of the USA because they omit Latin and South America but the Boy Scouts aren't as astute as the Girls Scouts of the USA) voted to lift the national ban preventing gays from openly participating in the organization. It seems each community or troop could call their own shots. about a different colored uniform for those who are  inclusive versus those who are not?

Lots of folk wear pins and carry pens with logos but that is not quite the same as instant recognition.
Speaking of uniforms, doesn't Lady Baden Powell look magnificent in this rendering from a postage shamp? An impressive leader, indeed. This weekend I'm attending my first watercolor workshop at Oakmont. I'll wear my old paint spattered beige pants. I dont know the teacher or other students. I'm a bit apprehensive. Like the old camp round, "Make New Frieds" I feel like I'd like a uniform that advertises my sentiments. Wish me luck.