Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Winter Coat

My brother is on Facebook now, and uploaded this photo the other night. I had never seen this photo, and I found myself slipping Kent Road East, Wantagh, Long Island.  It is 1963...and I am  6.
It is a time of skywriters,  radio,  ironing boards, milkmen, skate keys,  and black and white TVs.
It is the year JFK was shot -my mother was ironing my father's shirts, put down the iron and cried.
She never cried save for that time and when her father died.  She learned to create a buffer with Southern Comfort. 

I  have a hard time seeing myself in her--and peer deeper into the face of this child.   Perhaps it is because my face is pudgier than I ever remember, and I am missing those telltale micro short bangs from my mother's bad hair cuts that I was given until I was old enough to run away from the scissors.  I know that inside that little plastic coat is a very sad little girl.

I did not like that coat which had no color, smelled of vinyl,  got stiff with the winter cold.  I hated always having the damn hood tied up around my head.  I remember fighting with my parents (as much as I dared to fight) over the hood..  To this day I have an issue with head coverings, probably from childhood. 

Snippets of memories drift by me.  Getting hit a lot.  Having my hair brushed so roughly that it hurt. Throwing up in the Mercedes.  Running away.  Being sent out to the garage with the spiders.  Raisins, liver, and stringy snotty egg and milk shakes for my anemia. Fear, religion, God, anger, violence---all mixed up together, not being able to head or tail out of it all. 

I remember spending a lot of time in my bedroom finding solace in my toys, crayons, and coloring books.  I remember having to eat in silence and loving when I had diarrhea, because my mother gave me paragoric, an over the counter opiate, which made me feel good, really good.  Already I was liking the escape.

Yet that little girl still knew how to smile:  I was a strong child, I was a survivor.  I had spunk, I had imagination, I knew how to escape into another world.

When I think back to those times, I no longer get angry or weepy.  I realize my past has formed who I am now---and I am comfortable in my skin and soul.   What happened was part of my journey, and I have to believe that they were doing the best they could as they both must have had very difficult lives to have been so dysfunctional.  It was like that in those days. 

And I just keep smiling.

Patti O

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Simple Encaustics

Today was the work day as I played all day yesterday as it was warm and sunny - a no brainer to spend it being adventurous from the time I woke up till midnight!   The price I had to pay was to work today on my NYS sales taxes, as well as plan my Studio Art Lesson plans for the week.

We are studying Ancient Roman art, and I want to do a simple encaustics lesson with the students.I don't have encaustic supplies in school, so I have to bring in my own, and those of you who work in encaustic know it is rather costly. 

I found a website that though very crafty, has some great ideas on how to experience encaustics with simple materials such as irons and electric fry pans.  I have a few old irons in class, as well as a tacking iron, and I have one large electric fry pan that can be used by 2 students at a time.

We won't be making art for the Guggenheim, but some of the methods are fool proof, necessary for these at-risk students, and they will least get an understanding of how encaustics work, and I can guarantee that each student will make at least one cool piece that they can make into a card.
A lucky group of 12 of them will get to visit R and F Paints in town (oh am I lucky to have the factory/class/gallery in my own city!) to further explore the medium. 

Visit the is at and it has videos and simple demos.  Tonight's art are a few samples I made using the iron and a few paints heated up in cans on the fry pan, as well as using the surface to mix up a few color.  I will be able to set up 4 stations....for 12 kids.  That will be interesting, but they will have to learn how to take turns-it is the best I can do!

Off to start to preview "Who Does She Think She Is"  as I want to see if it is appropriate for my Women's Studies class.  I got it on Amazon, and it is the House Party version.  I will throw a few screenings here, so those of you who read this who are local, let me know if you want to come over and see it!

Off to movieland, Ciao for now! 

Friday, March 19, 2010

Afternoon at FDR's Place

It is pathetic that I am so busy that I have only been eeking out a blog or two a week.  But it is better that I write when I have something to say;   I save the quips and brief moments of enlightenment, wisdom and nonsense for Facebook.

Life is quick these days, thrown in with a dash of craziness, sorrow, and frustration - tempered with moments of happiness and love.

Today's adventures were simply wonderful.

I taught for 1/2 day, then headed over the Mid Hudson Bridge to Route 9 north, with final destination being the FDR estate .  It was a record-breaking 73 degrees, and I put the top down.  Heaven.

I was taking a course called The Hudson River Panorama, which is a current show at the Albany Institute of History and Art.  Through contributions/grants, the museum is teaching teachers and other related educational personnel how to use the resources of the Hudson River Valley and the Musuem, to teach K-12 about the history, science, art, transportation, etc. of the region over the last 400 years.  In addition, we had presentations on the resources, online and locales, that educate the public about the river's estuary,  as well as the insects, fish, birds of the river and valley.

Not only did I enjoy every moment of it, but I got the best educational resources for the classroom AND myself.  The indirect discovery and AH HA moment was when I realized that in my retirement, not only can I make art, but I can work part time on projects such as this for museums and other institutions as a second career.  I can write, I am knowledgeable, have determination and passion.  With those tools, I can do just about anything I put my mind to do.

After the class,  I perused the book store, bought a new address book filled with paintings of the Hudson River artists, and a few other gifts.  I took a leisurely stroll on the grounds and sat on a bench overlooking the land that leads to the river.  I would have hiked the mile to the river, but I had on my cock-roach-killing BCBG cowboy boots - and they weren't meant for walking...(Nancy Sinatra song playing in background)

Then a stop to see the Kipster, and lastly, dinner with Larry.

Warm breezes, fresh air, sunshine.  Historical places, art, history, science.  Epiphanies. Learning.  Adventure.  Dreaming about the possibilities.

Patti O Star Gazer

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Life is Like a Paper Bag

Yesterday afternoon I was in a cleaning frenzy. Weeks before my trip to Kentucky,  only maintenance cleaning was done on the house;  important things like the litter box, bathtub,  toilet were kept from being abominable,  and a few choice floors were nominally swept or vacuumed. 

Things - like the white tiled bathroom floor - the suitcase with a combo of clean and dirty clothes spilling out onto the floor waiting for another cat mishap - had gotten out of control.  I was living in chaos; there was something in every room that made the house visually annoying.

As I made my way from room to room, I came into the dining room.  Prior to my having to keep the dining room closed (the cats vs. the chairs) , my bag of bags was cleverly stuffed and hidden from view behind the door.  But now it stood out like a sore thumb, ripped and worn, with its contents spilling out onto the floor in full view.  It needed to be replaced with one of the bags inside of it.

I stopped for a moment, and imagined that all the bags were people.  When the main one that holds them all together wears out, another one from the group that is large enough and strong enough takes the place of the one that has bitten the dust.  And thus the cycle goes.

This may seem like a strange comparison, but since the cycle of life and death weigh heavily on my mind in the form of illness, estate problems, burial trust funds, etc., it isn't so strange to me that I see examples of the life cycle in the mundane. 
In the words of Forrest Gump's mother; "Life is like a box of never know what you're gonna get".  And from the deep wisdom of the almost crone....Ms. P,  "life is like a paper bag---you never know when you're going to wear out and be replaced."  Here's to being a Victoria's Secret Bag,
 patti o

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Memories of Summer

I finally got into the studio to paint after a very long hiatus. 

The last painting I did was back in December for a show, and I had started this back in August on my vacation in Wellfleet.  I had intended to do the under painting in acrylic and finish off in oil, but it takes so long to get all of my paints mixed for the oils that I decided to do another layer in acrylic.  Still things to be fixed and worked on, but so far I am satisfied with the "learning experience" which is what I call every  painting that I do, not matter how well or poor it is.

I also took one of my oils to be framed at the frame shop.  It is a painting of the fields off Zena Road.  It was one of those paintings that I worked on several times, and got disgusted with it and attacked it with my paintbrush and tried to destroy it, only ending up with the loveliest muted tones and composition that I ended up working into a bit, then leaving just the way it was.  A few of my best works have been made like that--perhaps because I am not caring and so loose with what I am doing. 

This weekend is taxes, but if I can, I am going to lock myself in the studio for a bit and try and work on another painting.  I love how the hours melt away and I KNOW that during that time I don't age.  (perhaps I should paint all the time as an alternative to plastic surgery?)

patti o

The photo is blurry. Hand held, minimal light.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

And I am Back.....

Five glorious days with Megan and her family.

Glorious for the warmer weather, for spending quality time with my daughter and her family, the comfort of a mother taking care of her sick child, the joy of a grandmother seeing and playing with her grandchildren.  We talked, we played, we laughed, we got serious.

One thing we did NOT do is cry.  Enough tears have been shed.

I don't know who got more out of this, but I suspect each one of us took a little piece of heaven into our hearts.

Yet I wondered.
Why is it that the most growth comes from the deepest pain?
That my best writing and art comes from the darkest of places?I have to remind myself that time of great growth and beauty has also come of out light and joy.  It's just that I am more in touch with my dark side.

As I got out of the car to head into the airport, I gave Alanna a kiss goodbye.She said: "Mimi, I was thinking that I wish this could last forever".

So do I baby, so do I.  And it does, in the memory of it all.

And I will be back.


Friday, March 05, 2010

You Know You're Getting Older When

I am 52.
I am married to a man who will be 60 this year. I am still very youthful in attitude, and I think in looks, but recent things have reminded me that I am NOT 30 anymore, and in the process of becoming invisible, like most people between 50-100 become.  'Tis a shame because the younger ones miss out on all the knowledge and stories that we have.  Perhaps if they paid more attention to us, future generations MIGHT REALLY change the world.

Today, when filling out a survey for the store EXPRESS, I got a shock.  The survey was supposed to take 15 mintues, but I figured out that I could do it in 5.  FIrst question-my gender. Easy. I didn't even have to look.  Question 2: my age group.  I was in the last one, 50+.  I hit enter.  A pop up said "Thank you, you have now completed the survey". I was insulted, outraged.  Because of my age, I was no longer valuable for their consumer survey.

A similar thing happened on a survey I did for Victoria's Secret.  It was obviously intended for the 18-30 crowd, whose bellies and breasts have not been irreversibly altered by the birth of children and the ravages of time. Yet us older folks still like to make the best out of what we have and YES, WE STILL LIKE TO LOOK SEXY,and you know, we probably have better sex than they do because we know how to ask for what we want and have experience.  But we go unrepresented, and largely ignored. 

In conclusion, I'd like to include a few stanzas from a poem that really makes sense to me now:

When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple
with a red hat that doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
and satin candles, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired
and gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
and run my stick along the public railings
and make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
and pick the flowers in other people's gardens
and learn to spit.

Photo from the air of the Newburgh area.  The airport parking lots were a mess, with giant mounds of snow from what lots they could plow and many parking spots filled with snow.
I got a spot not too far away.

Off to take a breather in the 60 degree weather!


Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Off to KY land

Camera. Check.
iPod charged. Check.
Little gifties.  Check.
Book. Check.
Work. Check.
Flying outfit laid out. Check.

Online Check In.... NO CHECK! 
The system won't let me do it!!!


At least it isn't going to snow, though the winds are ripping through the yards on the block, sounding off the Woodstock chimes next door.  Which reminds me. While I'm on the plane tomorrow morning, the neighbor will be in court pleading not guilty I suppose, to dog shit, loose dog (it's the worst when it's loose- dog- shit) and endlessly barking dog. 

But I am leaving that set of problems behind and flying into the unknown ...... and I can't wait till I see all of my babies. 

Will be back..reporting from KY land....home of the brave at Fort Campbell. 

Patti O Flyer