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FALL BACK


I never know whether to say Daylight Saving has begun or has ended.  At any rate, it just fell back, which always leads to a flurry of clock stoppings and startings.  You are never sure you got all of them straightened out until it’s time to change again.  I wish the powers that be would make up their mind.  The clock in the car waits patiently until it is time to spring forward again.

As people, we know we are going to gain or lose an hour of sleep, but try and tell that to the dogs.  I had not realized it before, but Charlie lives by the clock.  Breakfast is as soon as you get yourself out of a warm bed .  Norbert the postman, is a lovely chatty fellow, and Charlie senses his arrival at least a half hour before he actually arrives by lying by the front door and groaning slightly.  At three o’clock it is imperative that he check out the neighborhood with Dr. A.  Of course now, with the time change, all this takes place an hour earlier.  We had a visitor the other day and Charlie was his most obnoxious self, whining, begging pitifully, and generally making a nuisance of himself.  I looked at my clock and fount it was two o’clock, which according to him, was three o’clock walk time.  The afternoon feeding schedule is the same.  He has always chosen to go outside at ten, which is OK, but now that happens at nine, just as the clocks are chiming.

Since most dogs, Charlie included, sleep about 18 hours a day, it is surprising to me that his schedule has hit a bump, or that he notices it.  Once more he reminds me that you can’t underestimate a dog’s brain.  It’s best to simply go along with it.  It would be interesting to know what other pets suffer the same confusion.

 

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THE ROAR OF THE CROWD


I like baseball. I know, I said that last year in October during the World Series. I have liked baseball since my father placed a wood bat in my hands and told me to hit the ball he tossed to me, and then run like heck for first base. My father was a Yankee fan, and Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio was his man. Listening to the games on the family Philco, I memorized the stats so I could impress him. I played sandlot ball whenever the neighborhood boys let me in, but I never made the first team. I had frequent dreams of hitting a home run with the bases loaded, but they were only pipe dreams. Living as we did, in many places across the country, we never actually went to a game together, but my Dad often fit one in when he could.

Alameda was a baseball town and turned out a few stars of the game. Joe Kaney, Bob Wuestoff, and Don “Ducky” Pries made baseball their careers, whether in playing, coaching or scouting.

October always gives me a thrill, when the best of the best struggle for supremacy. The crowd’s roar, the steely eyed pitcher working out what his pitch will be with the catcher, who is squatting like a silent toad behind home plate, giving pre-arranged finger signals to the pitcher. The tension builds. The moments during this silent exchange must be agonizing for the batter, wondering what his fate will be. This is a time for confidence, but does he feel confident? The pitch is a slider, and the batter swings and misses. Do that a couple more times and you’re out. There are so many pitches, and so hard to anticipate which one you will get.

Watching a game on TV can be nerve-wracking too. Your team is behind, it’s the top of the ninth, the bases are loaded, two outs, the batter, whom you don’t like very much anyway, has two strikes against him, the pitch is thrown, and he strikes out. It’s like a deflated balloon.

I remember visiting my parents during a World Series game many years ago, and the game was on TV. My mother, who was the least likely to sit and watch a game, was watching intently and making knowledgable remarks. I don’t suppose I should have been surprised, given my Dad’s interest in the game.

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CREATVITY


Virginia Woolf was ahead of her time when she wrote that everyone needs a room of one’s own. What you do in that room is up to you. Sometimes I simply sit and think. It has the sound of silence which is missing in so much of our lives today.

My room is filled with things which have meaning for me. There is a tiny painting a neighbor man gave me when I was eight, a larger painting which hung in my Grandma’s crowded bedroom, sn old sewing machine head made into a lamp, books on Indian crafts, more books, lots of things other people might have thrown away; my mother’s jacks, the flag they gave me at my father’s funeral, a few tiny dolls tucked on a shelf, jars of paint brushes, a pallete fo watercolor paint, a shelf of acrylic paint, stacks of canvas and watercolor paper, an old pink elephant, trunks full of photographs, and another filled with old report cards, letters, my husband’s block sweater from high school. etc. The walls are crowded with pictures; one of my Tai Chi class, another of a tap dancing class, a family portrait of my best friend’s family. Things that I have made and things others have given me. Looking at what I have written it seems like a chaotic mess but everything is connected to another, and together they form a pattern to my life.

The room of one’s own is special because no one can predict what you may do in it. Various rooms are meant for certain activities, ie the kitchen is not where you sleep and vice versa. Living rooms don’t seem to attract a lot of attention these days, and not a lot of people have actual dining rooms. But the room you have chosen to be your room doesn’d come with a label, it’s a place to let your imagination run wild.

When we lived in Connecticut as a child, there was an old abandoned house next door which I used as a playhouse. I spent hours there making up games, arranging found objects into decorations. In retrospect, the house was an early example of the nesting instinct. I do think some things just come naturally. The old house was my first expression of free will. It was uninhibited imagination, or creativity, if you will.

What is creativity anyway? Is is a conscious pre-planned activity which results in something new and possibly wonderful? Or is it a spontaneous gathering of grey matter suddenly colliding? Some of the most fun pieces I have made came about by accident. During a process of “one thing led to another”. On the other hand, some of the pieces which were planned with deep emotion were never what I called “creative”.

As a child, Grandma insisted that I was “gifted”. What did that mean to a child? A gift was something current and profitable. I had received neither. I was given singing and dancing lessons because Great-Aunt Corinne was a well-known opera singer in Canada, which stood to reason that the talent was in the genes. It wasn’t. The houses I drew in school were shown to the class because they not only had the correct number of windows and doors and chimneys, but I had drawn people on mine. I obsessively copied the faces of movie stars from the movie magazines. Nothing creative about that; in both cases a matter of good observation.
I have become complacent these days and have stopped waiting for that A-Ha moment, when I have accidentally dropped a blob of paint where it shouldn’t be, and it makes me wonder why I didn’t think of it before?

One’s imagination is like any other muscle; it needs to be exercised or it will rust. The room of my own enables me to exercise a certain amount of that muscle. Sometime it may become a great notion.

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THE GIRL FROM ISLETA


“GEORGIA ABEITA OLIVER” watercolor by kayti sweetland rasmussen]

“What color would you call my hair?” I asked her once. “Mouse”, she quickly replied, so I made her a giant wire sculpture of a rat. We found that we could laugh at each other until the tears flowed down our cheeks, and not remember why. She was a girl from a village I never heard of and a culture I only guessed at.

I painted pictures of Indians I had never seen, in landscapes I had never traveled, until she became my daughter’s teacher.

On “Back To School” night I met Georgia Oliver, fifth grade teacher, and as my daughter had told me: “A REAL Indian”, as opposed to what I had painted.

Georgia Abeita, by photography class at University of New Mexico

Georgia and her husband, Emmett Oliver, became extended family over a period of time, and together introduced us to Native America. Georgia Abeita came from Isleta, a small pueblo in New Mexico, and Emmett, a Quinalt, from Washington state. Both became teachers and there are untold numbers of former students who are grateful for having had either as their teacher. Their son, Marvin Oliver, has carried on the teaching profession as Art Professor at the University of Washington, and has become famous as a North Coast artist.

A turning point cor me as an artist came when Georgia invited me to spend time with her at her home in New Mexico. From that time on, I no longer had to look for pictures to copy when painting an Indian.

More important, I found a very special friend.

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WE ARE A WEB


Like it or not, we are a web. We are connected in ways we cannot imagine. Back in the dark ages, we were girls of seventeen and eighteen and parted ways to begin our lives, careers and families. Through the years we tried not to think of our age, which makes it interesting now to celebrate 90th birthdays so often.

By and large, everyone is holding up well, give or take a few aches and pains, though four out of nine have lost children, three in this past year. All but one are widowed, and the strength in each is admirable and enviable. All but one still live in their own home. All but one still drive. One is giving her car up next week at the urging of her children. Yesterday’s birthday girl passed the DMV test, had her license renewed for 5 years, and bought a new car in celebration.

There comes a time, if you are cognizant, that you need to throw away the car keys. In my case, I found fading sight was to blame, but I think there are also tiny things like jumping when another car horn frighten you, or slowing down when others are speeding up. So many small warning signs.

It is always interesting even after seventy plus years to hear that someone is related to someone that is a friend of someone else. One friend worked for the Oakland school district with the Godmother of my daughter. A few years ago, I met the sister of another friend and mentioned that a good friend of mine was moving into a lovely senior development. She asked if it was “blah-blah” and I said it was. She told me that she sings at a church in Walnut Creek, and I told her that our cousin donated the stained glass windows. Someone mentioned a few girls and someone else said those are my cousins.

One had a menu from the Matson Line ship Lurline from 1948 where one of our ladies was listed as a passenger. My cousin was the captain of the Lurline at that time.

Of course our conversation flows from subject to subject and includes things which need to be discussed either for ourselves or for other aging friends. One women received a new scam telephone call which she warned about. I don’t believe that this group of women are particularly vulnerable, but in a weak moment, you never know. One friend who is 95 and not in this group, is sharp as a tack and has all her marbles, but when someone told her she needed to send $15,000 to Mexico to help her grandson, she sent it. Luckily she was able to get her money back.

The picture of the frail little old lady is not always a true picture. Some grannies may be packing a small derringer in their pocketbook.

However, yesterday afternoon, my daughter was shopping and a frail little old lady was clearly confused and panicky beside her. When she asked if she could help, the little lady said that she wanted to get back home but couldn’t remember where it was. My kind daughter put her into her car and found where she lived and got her home again. When I said how proud I was of her, she said it might have been me. You just don’t know from one day to the next.

Memories are great, but we tend to forget that there is still time to add to them while polishing up the old.

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YOU CAN’T GO BACK


“You can’t go back”, but what if you didn’t go anywhere, and things changed all around you? Places and people change, stores and restaurants go out of business, people move and others move in, seemingly in the blink of an eye.

How did it all happen? Silicon Valley beckoned, and people arrived to fill the need for tech workers, who in turn needed a place to live. So the developers continue to have a field day, turning vacant spaces into high rise apartments after filling the larger areas with single family developments. To arrive on time for an appointment, one must leave an hour early to drive across town.

Years ago, a man commented that the streets in town were nice and wide and easily navigated. Today those streets are filled with the traffic generated by the newcomers at all times of the day.

We are told to use less water, so our gardens are dying of thirst, all to accommodate those newcomers. Where are the people on the planning commission?

I’m glad we found this town so many years ago, when you could still walk down the street and possible know your neighbors along the way. When your children could play outside till dark or walk to school without worry on your part, and when you didn’t make sure all doors were locked before your went to bed. Homes which a short time ago sold for a nominal price now go for upwards of a million dollars, thus making the term “millionaire” meaningless.

For many years I left the doors open to the studio while I worked, and people often stopped to pass the time of day and see what was going on. It was nice. There were two large dogs in those days, Lisa, the German Shepherd, and Max, the Dobie. Both welcomed visitors, with the correct amount of wariness. It was nice.

Do I sound old and crotchety? I suppose so, though I try to go with the flow and realize this phenomenon is repeated itself in most places today. It is just the way things are and are likely to continue, so “get used to it lady!”

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PUNCH AND JUDY


Since earliest times people have used puppets or marionettes to deliver the wisdom or insults we are afraid to say ourselves. Imagine the Thai shadow puppets, the Muppets, or even Edgar Bergen’s wooden son, Charlie McCarthy, whose sole purpose is to entertain while delivering a punch to the gut.

To the continuing delight of children and adults alike, the Punch and Judy show remains popular and mostly unchanged since it was introduced in 1662, in Covent Garden, London. It has always seemed a fearsome play to me, but children being children, roar with laughter when Judy gets her licks in.

Played in a small wooden theatre by a single puppeteer, the story is traditional and mostly violent. After capturing the attention of Charles 11, the show was performed on a 20 x 18 foot stage after which the King gave the Italian puppeteer a gold chain and medal worth $3,000 today. Today the show is a popular boardwalk seaside attraction in England. As a child I watched the shows on the boardwalk in Long Beach, California, alongside the merry-go-round, pony rides, games of chance, and other seaside attractions.

The story revolves around Pulcinella (Mr. Punch) and his wife Judy who have an eternal noisy quarrel resulting in one or the other being whacked over the head with some sort of mallet. There are several stories which can be played, with a changing cast, all in the confines of the small theatre. The puppeteer keeps something in his mouth to give the main chracter the weird raspy voice and cackle of Mr. Punch when it’s his turn to speak. He often screams out “That’s the way to do it!” after hitting someone.

The original characters were marionettes, operated by wires attached their limbs and to a bar from overhead. Today they are mostly glove puppets operated by one person.

Another facet of the ancient Art of Theatre.