LISTEN TO THE DAY


starsStarting from nothing to where we are, Is farther that the farthest star. And farther than the farthest star is where we are going from where we are.” Eyvind Earle

Today my mind is a fallow field. Outside, the world is sun-drenched and burning. Sunday morning is slow, easy and drifting. My book was open, but I did not read. I knew there were things which needed to be done, but my mind was stuck in auto-reverse.

I must have closed my eyes because behind my eyelids I began planning our Sunday supper. I know that sounds silly in the greater scheme of things, but we do need to eat.

Dr. Advice loves an applesauce pie that his mother used to make, so when I can move from my chair I’ll make it! Isn’t it wonderful that we always remember something our mothers used to make from our childhood? Years ago I overheard several friends of my daughter discussing favorites from their childhood for which their mothers were justly famous. My daughter liked my tuna salad sandwiches. I have always tried unsuccessfully to imitate my mother’s potato salad, however my father produced a suitable one after she died.

I am cheating today with the applesauce pie, as I bought a ready-made graham cracker crust. That shows how lazy someone can get. In it I will put applesauce up to the top, and cover the whole thing with whipped cream. How simple can you get? Dr. Advice could even make it himself if he could rouse the energy today. Chilled for a few hours, it cuts and holds together nicely.

As for the rest of the meal, I’m making a Southern corn pudding with the fresh white corn from the Farmer’s Market this morning. I remember many years ago, in Grants Pass, Oregon where my parents lived, going to a farm to pick corn. My mother thought corn should go from the stalk to the pot of boiling water immediately. Well, it didn’t get in that fast, but we came home with a ton of corn to husk, and then popped it in the pot while the butter was softening and we got out bibs for everyone. Then as my father used to say “The heck with the rest of the dinner, let’s just eat the corn.” And we did.

Why are we always in such a rush, what could be more important than just lingering?

SOUTHERN CORN PUDDING

3 eggs beaten well
1 c. milk
1 c. cream
3-4 Tbs. flour
2 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. melted butter
3 ears fresh corn cut from cobs. Grind half in processor.
dash of pepper

Add all ingredients to beaten eggs. Mix well. Pour into well buttered casserole and bake at 350 degrees until firm, approximately 40-45 min.

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INNER FIRE


Alan Hauser
hauser 3 I first saw Allan Hauser’s art when I went to Santa Fe, New Mexico for the first time in 1966. I saw then that what I did and what I was teaching was only a first step toward the sculpture I wanted to make. Allan’s iconic style, avoiding unnecessary iconography, filled me with a great sense of peace. His Native American mothers holding their children were not just literal pictures of people, but solid mass forms filled with life which invited you to touch them. I had been working for years, but for the first time, I realized that everything is simply “forms” with a certain solidity, not just sculpture. Our eye does not take in everything which is there; in painting a tree we don’t paint each leaf, or each hair on a head, rather we try to convey the feeling of the entire form. So what Allan taught me throughout that summer, was how to “feel” a sculpture, and how to convey that feeling in the finished piece.

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Born in Oklahoma in 1914, Allan Hauser was the first member of his family from the Warm Springs Chiricahua Apache to be born outside captivity since Geronimo’s 1886 surrender after the tribe’s imprisonment by the United States. His father, Sam Haozous, was the grand-nephew of Geronimo, and served as his translator after the release.

Allan went to study at the Santa Fe Indian School in 1934, where he first formed his distinctive style in both painting and sculpture. It was there he met and married his wife Anna Maria Gallegos, and they were married for fifty-five years. They moved to Los Angeles in the second World War and he worked at the shipyards there. Through friends at the Pasadena Art Institute, he became familiar with the art of Jean Arp, Constantin Brancusi, and Henry Moore, as well as Barbara Hepworth, from whom he learned the importance of open spaces within the sculpture. When Allan explained Hepworth’s monumental pieces to me, he stressed the importance of letting your mind supply what was missing in the void.

In my own study of Japanese art and floral arranging, that “absence of the unimportant” gave meaning to the piece which would not have been there with too much explanation. In the case of floral arrangements, it would be too many flowers.

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Allan Joined the faculty at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe in 1962. It was there I met him in the summer of 1966, when I went with my Isleta-Laguna friend Georgia Abeita Oliver. He was a soft-spoken and generous man who graciously gave his knowledge and advice to a visiting stranger and fellow art teacher. There was no indication that this self-effacing man was one of the most renowned Native American artists in the 20th century.

When he died at the age of 80, he left behind thousands of paintings and drawings as well as his amazing public sculptures as a visual lexicon.

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In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” Albert Schweitzer

Apache

“Apache Man” white carrara marble Allan Hauser

AN UNCOMMON MAN


What kind of friend wakes you up with a knock on the bedroom window at 4:30 in the morning telling you to “Get up! You’re going to miss the morning!” It had better be a good friend!

Tak Fudenna was a farmer, and as farmers get up early, he went several times a week to the home of his good friend Dr. Advice to share what he loved; the fresh morning air, the solitude of early morning, the beauty of a healthy field of cauliflower waiting to be harvested.

It became the habit of the two men to go to the “Alvarado Hilton” for a quick breakfast at Mary’s before “checking” the fields, and before the workday began for both. I don’t remember what the actual name of the “Hilton” was, but it was in the small town of Alvarado, and had once years ago been a small bank.

Like thousands of small farming communities throughout the country, Alvarado was a suburb of a larger nearby town which kept growing. While the rest of the town of Alvarado slumbered away for lack of business, the “Hilton” watched its few small businesses fold and buildings stand empty.

At some point in time the bank became a very casual eating place presided over by a woman who dished out hearty breakfasts to hungry farmers needing a big meal and a few cups of coffee to jump-start their day.

Tak was a practical joker, and one soon learned not to take his word that something was “not very hot”. After tasting it himself, he would offer a spoonful to Dr. Advice, who soon found out it was tabasco sauce straight out of the bottle! The Danes were never used to sprinkling tabasco on their pastry.

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The three Fudenna brothers were all second generation Japanese-Americans who had the largest cauliflower farm in Fremont. When WW2 broke out, all Japanese in America, by order of Executive Order 9066, were interned in military-type “relocation” camps throughout the country for the duration of the war. Tak and his mother were sent to Topaz Lake, Utah and their farms as well as most other Japanese-American farmers, were confiscated.

When he was eighteen, as did thousands of other boys in America, Tak received a draft notice saying he was now in the army as a member of the all Japanese-American 442 regiment, and was sent to North Africa. The battalion had the most casualties of any U.S. battalion and went on to fight in Italy where Tak received the bronze star.

When asked about his internment camp experience, he was fond of saying “When it’s over, it’s over. Just plow it under.

EXECUTIVE ORDER

In time, Tak married and raised a family of six children, whose three oldest boys became outstanding athletes in the local high school before going on to take over the family farms. Tak told them that someday there would be no more farms in Fremont, so the three sons went to Salinas and Yuma to farm lettuce and cauliflower.

The farmland that they held in Fremont has now been turned into apartments and small businesses.

Tak and his wife, Sachi, had never missed a game and were big supporters of the high school sports program. After all his boys graduated from school, Tak was musing what he could leave the school and the city to benefit the youth program. What he settled on was a football stadium, that would have a great track, lights, good bleachers, restrooms and food stands.

Together he and a group of his friends built the Tak Fudenna stadium at Washington High School but to be used by all the high schools in Fremont. When people found what he was planning, donations of material and manpower poured in to help this cheerful, loveable man achieve the legacy he left to our city.

Tak was killed in a road accident at the age of 51. He was truly a common, Uncommon man.

A CAR NAMED HERMAN


Ghia 3The first Karmann Ghia I ever saw was a classy little red job my aunt and uncle bought in Germany and had shipped to the States. I was smitten, and when a shiny yellow Karmann Ghia took up residence in my garage several years later, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I promptly named him Herman, and happily drove him for twenty years.

The Italians had given the car its cool sports car look; sort of a Porsche, but without the speed. It was made between 1955 and 1974, and a mechanical dimwit could maintain it. I delighted in putting him in the driveway while I polished him, changed the oil and cleaned the engine. That was the extent of my automotive knowledge, except I knew where the gas tank was. The company made only a few colors, and Herman was Manila Yellow. I remember the red, which first captured my heart, and a dark green, but I don’t recall the other colors.

It had only two seats in front, but a very small platform opened down in the back for groceries, dogs or whatever. The gears were four-on-the-floor and let’s admit that Herman wasn’t comfortable going over 80 MPH.

My husband was transferred to Seattle in June of 1969, and I drove Herman to Kirkland, where we would be living, with a cat and his litter box on the back seat, while Dr. Advice took two rather well-behaved dogs with him in his car; a Chihuahua and a pregnant Dachshund. Surely a sign of male superiority, as he probably had the easier job controlling the dogs.

Together Herman and I explored every part of Seattle and its environs during the five years we lived there, while our daughter attended the University of Washington and Dr. Advice explored Alaska and its environs.

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Both dogs who had made the journey with us died during the time we were there, and then we were acquired by Liza, a wonderful eight week old German Shepherd Dog. She seriously did choose us. As we were scrambling around in the breeder’s barn trying to get the attention of another puppy, the very large gruff German lady who owned the kennel growled “Vat are you doing?” I pointed out the pup that we wanted, and she practically yelled “But THAT’S the one that wants you”

We took her home to live with us, and named her Heidi. She whined pitifully all night long so we changed her name to Eliza Doolittle. She never left my side the rest of her life, riding proudly in the front seat of the yellow Karmann Ghia wherever I went.

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A few months after we arrived in Kirkland, it snowed. I had never driven in snow or ice, but I had a tennis lesson in an indoor court in Everett, a town about twenty miles north, so Herman and I braved the weather and set off. It’s amazing how nothing looks the same under a thick blanket of snow, but we finally made it to Everett and the tennis lesson.

Seattle does not get identifiable snow every year, but it does freeze regularly in winter. One such morning I was ready to leave the garage, only to find that the macadam driveway had frozen and risen an inch or two, preventing one of the garage doors to open.

It was a double garage with two separate doors both opening outward, and Herman was a very small car, so I jockeyed him back and forth a number of times thinking I would then simply drive out the operational door.

To my horror, Herman got stuck sideways and refused to move again. Dr. Advice was on a business trip and I knew no one. We lived in the country, with no neighbors, so I was literally “stuck”.

When our daughter came home that afternoon and saw our predicament, she called several football players she knew, who simply lifted Herman off the ground and set him right! And yes, I would have to say that was male superiority!

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We returned to the Bay Area in 1974, and Herman and I traveled our old routes once more, this time with a large German Shepherd Dog riding shotgun.

Two small grandson had joined our family, and a few years later, I was invited by one of them to come do a demo for his school class in Scotts Valley. We did small clay dragons which I took home to dry before firing them, but before that I stopped and had lunch with my daughter at Pasatiempo where they lived.

That afternoon, while driving on the freeway, I was stopped for speeding. Worried that the little sculptures would dry too fast, I told the officer, “If you’re going to give me a ticket, please hurry up and do it, because there are 29 dragons drying in the back seat as we speak.” After looking into the back seat, he gave me the ticket.

That evening my daughter called and asked how my afternoon had been. When I assured her that it was fine, she said “Mom! I saw you pulled over at the side of the road. How fast were you going anyway?” When she heard it was only 75 MPH, she laughed and repeated it to her husband, whom I heard in the background saying “Geesh, I didn’t know that thing would go that fast!”

Herman suffered the same fate as most of us—he just plain wore out. When he left our garage for good, our 10 year old grandson said “I always though I’d drive him to college.”

AND THE RACE IS ON!


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sculpture by kayti sweetland Rasmussen

Today’s 145th running of the Belmont Stakes race in New York was exciting on more than one level. The Belmont is a 1 1/2 miles run and is the culmination of the Triple Crown Series which begins the first Saturday in May each year with the Kentucky Derby, and sandwiches the Preakness which was two weeks ago.

I never seem to get my bet down in time, but then I’ve only seen it on TV. We love horses in our family, but strangely enough, these are the only times of the year I watch the races. I study the racing form eagerly in the morning of the race for the odds and carefully choose my horse. The trainers are familiar, and some of the same jockeys remain from year to year. The pre-race is interesting to me because we get a little history of the jockeys, and of the trainers, which makes it fun to choose whom we will bet our two bucks on usually depending on the hardships the jockey or the trainer have gone through to get there.

Gary Stevens is a jockey I used to follow, mainly because he is so good looking (plus he’s a great rider) and he had a part in the movie “Seabiscuit” which I loved to pieces. He retired a few years ago and sat in the broadcasters booth to read the race, but I found him again at the Preakness when they announced that he was the “oldest jockey in the field” at age 50. I immediately chose him as fellow “codger” to put my money on to win, and he came in by several lengths on “Oxbow”, trained by D. Wayne Lukas who has been around nearly as long as I have. It goes to show you can’t discount the oldsters, we’ve still got it.

The second jockey they featured two weeks ago was Mike Smith, 47, and also called attention to his age, so I could have lived betting on either one, just on the face of their advanced age.

Today Gary Stevens was again on board “Oxbow”, and Mike Smith on “Palace Malice”. I naturally chose Stevens once again, and cheered like crazy during the couple of minutes the race takes. Charlie, our Jack Russell was tuckered out with the heat of the day and sleepily opened one eye in disgust. He is a lousy sports fan.

In a sport where sportsmanship doesn’t include making way for another jockey, Gary Stevens was a classic and classy gentleman at the end of this one. When Smith was asked what Stevens had said to him near the finish line when Smith was a little ahead of him, he said “Go ahead Big Boy, you’re movin’ better than I am.” I don’t know, that remark touched me more than if he had won the race.

“Palace Malice” took the race by a length. Dr. Advice lost one dollar on “Oxbow” who came in second I lost 2 dollars. Dr. Advice is almost as old as the two jockeys together.

TO BE A STAR


Shirley Temple

In my grandmother’s eyes, I was destined to be a star. Fortunately no one else’s eyes were aimed in the same direction.

Hollywood, in the decade of the 1930’s during the height of the Great Depression, made cheerful, happy musicals; such as those featuring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell, and most important to my grandmother—Shirley Temple. It seemed almost like there was a new Shirley Temple film a month, and we saw them all. If you lived within a radius of 50 miles near Hollywood, especially in the early days, you were aware of the movies wherever you looked. They were cheap, and every kid went to the Saturday matinee for a dime.

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baby parade When I unexpectantly won the Long Beach Baby Parade in my silver lame body suit and cleverly concocted wire top hat, the three women in my family; my mother, grandmother and aunt, decided that I had unforeseen talent. And so I went to dancing class along with all the other untalented five year olds, where we practiced our step, shuffle steps and our five year old struts in our shiny new black patent leather tap shoes, under the watchful eyes of devoted mothers and grandmothers.

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My father was a Navy man, and we lived with my grandmother when he was at sea. Occasionally when he came briefly into port in San Diego my mother joined him and I stayed behind. During those periods, I was sent to stay with my Grandmother’s sister Aunt Georgia.

Aunt Georgia was a serious no-nonsense Yankee, so when I took up residence, my Shirley Temple curls were cut in a Dutch Boy style, and the patent leather shoes were replaced with practical Buster Browns. But on Sunday afternoons we went to the movies to see Shirley Temple.

first day of school kayti lou

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I had a love and a mild talent for singing, and when I was thirteen Grandma again zeroed in on the idea of stardom. I had an audition with a voice coach in Hollywood who worked with Deanna Durbin, who was then making light-hearted films such as “Three Smart Girls” and “Every Sunday” with Judy Garland. She was a Canadian lyric soprano and though I was a mezzo soprano, her coach agreed to take me. There was one small drawback; his fee was out of our price range at that time, and so we opted for a local voice teacher.

I studied for five or six years until I got married when we all had to admit that I was not going to be a star.

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Many years later my husband and I attended a high school class reunion of mine and across the room I recognized my old singing teacher. Still tall and thin, but now wearing a tip-tilted toupee, with rouged cheeks and lips, he seemed strangely pathetic. Rushing over to him I introduced myself by my maiden name. He seemed not to recognize my name, though we had worked together for several years and he had given me choice roles in a couple of operettas. He peered at me a few minutes then said as he turned away “Your voice must not have impressed me very much.”

I was embarrassed, thinking back to the hardship it must have caused my family to raise the money to pay him for my lessons. I glared at him and though both my mother and grandmother had been gone for some time, I said “My mother is not going to want to hear that!” He countered with “Well, you’ve got a sense of humor.”

Sorry grandma—I never got to be a star.

TO THE CLASS OF 2013


graduation
cartoon courtesy of wall street journal

Dear Graduates:

“You’re pampered, privileged and oversexed–but at least your employment prospects are dim.”

This was the opening message from Rob LaZebnik in the Wall Street Journal. Mr. LaZebnik is probably correct about the difficulty of employment in these times. But there are many things you can do to fill in the free time you will have. Go to the beach, watch a movie, tweet, write a blog, or maybe hunker down in grad school. Maybe employment opportunities will improve in another four years.

Many activities take place within that precious group sitting so upright, serious and attentive, whether on a football field or indoors on bleachers. Are they really listening to the speech so carefully prepared and presented by some impressive person, and designed to instill a desire for excellence in their futures? Maybe some are, and everyone will take away some memory of the day, whether it will be the heat, the passing of the marijuana, bong, or just undercurrent horseplay. Ten years ago, my granddaughter had her little dog in her lap, which she passed to a friend when she went up to claim the coveted sheepskin. After all, the little dog had achieved degrees in both French and Communication during the past four years of his attendance with her at the University of Washington.

Seriously, the graduates of today are probably well-prepared for the challenges their chosen fields will bring. In a short four years they have become thinking adults and the skills and friendships they have formed will guide them through these difficult times. “Thinking” is the key word. They have learned to think for themselves which may be worth all the thousands of dollars their parents have invested in them.

I would advice them to ignore all the clich├ęs of the typical commencement speech and do what their generation does best: get lucky.