Saturday, July 09, 2011

Hot Town Summer in the City

Summer races by and I long for playing in the sprinkler, snow cones and trips to Edgewater Park. My Indianapolis childhood was idyllic.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Hello Spring 2010

I can't believe how early spring has come this year.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Bart

I've spent over a year working on this painting--it's a large, colorful abstract inspired by a photograph I took at a quilt show when I visited in Santa Monica a few years ago. I worked the surface layering paint and glazes over the colors enjoying the process and the outcome. Once it was declared finished, I hung it on the kitchen wall. My son immediately declared that the image looked like Bart Simpson in sunglasses. I never saw it--but now I can't look at the painting without seeing Bart. Geez!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Summer of Love

Last night, one of the best rock and roll guitarists ever(according to Rolling Stone) came to for dinner. We've known him since he was 16 and the lead guitar player in my husband's high school band. He's been temporarily put out of his apartment because of water damage, so he's "on the road" as he puts it. We weren't going to have him over last night, but through an email miscommunication, he showed up. We thawed another steak and mashed another potato and had dinner. I never saw anyone eat so much and after a few glasses of wine, he began a familiar monologue on the summer of love--1967 when his band had a contract with Capitol records and life was one big love-in. I love hearing the stories, but I wish he lived more in the now.

When it got late, it became clear that he had no place to we extended our guest room for ONE NIGHT ONLY... letting him know that we had just had family visit and expected more today. We've been to this party before---several years ago his van broke down in Detroit and he stayed over for several days--burning incense and meditating in our family room. He broke the lock on our door that time. It was an accident, of course, but an expensive one.

This time, he had a travel bag packed with his special honey, green tea bags, a change of clothes, his signature straw hat, and some brandy--everything a guy on the road needs. This morning, he eschewed the eggs for breakfast in favor of tea and toast; he took a bath and changed into clean clothes. Before he left, he autographed a CD for us, thanked us profusely and hit the road. His car sounds like a jet taking off--it's needed a new muffler for almost six months. He's got guitars worth thousands of dollars and %30 bottles of wine in the trunk--but no muffler.

For the first time in my life, I felt like I was in the middle of a Broadway musical. Imagine crossing Our Town with Hair and add in a little Neil Simon dialogue. The opening scene is the old Grandee Ballroom and the band is playing loudly--the overhead projector spills wavy colored light on the walls. The air is heavy and sweet.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring in the A2

It's been uncommonly sunny in Ann Arbor these past couple of weeks, although cold. Still, there's something stirring. The squirrels are aggressively robbing the bird feeders and we're going to have to stop storing the beer on the deck. We had 6 boxes of Girl Scout cookies and now we're down to 2. We've watched all but 7 episodes of the 6th season of Northern Exposure, eaten 8 of the 10 pounds of potatoes we stored in the garage. We know how to hunker down.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Obama Mama

I've been too busy to blog---thankfully, I guess. Here on the eve of the RNC's convention and we are facing another "perfect storm." Perhaps they'll figure out how to make it work to their advantage this time, ("Nice job, Brownie") or the public will finally GET IT! The "more for me" party will do anything to remain in power. They've successfully (depending upon your point of view) privatized education, water, health care, security, etc...but geez, there's just so much more to do! Bring back the cold war, invade Iran, put more oil platforms in the gulf... nominate more x-beauty queens? I need a nap!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Nature Conservancy

Lake Huron shoreline in the U.P. is still relatively unspoiled. A weekend trip to hunt mushrooms clears the head.

Monday, February 18, 2008

You know you're living in Ann Arbor when...

Several Saturday nights ago, we went to a local book store to see Ira Glass from This American Life. If you don't know of Ira Glass and his wonderful NPR radio show, you are missing some of the most wonderful moments of listening pleasure ever. If you do know of him, but have never met him, he is as intelligent, funny, charming and self-effacing as you might imagine. I've never seen anyone delight so much in the various and sundry ways we Americans choose to live our lives. Yet, his humor is never cynical or cruel. He loves us! In all our crazy, silly, ironic and hypocritical glory--he sees who we want to be.

Anyway, he was at the bookstore promoting the Discovery Channel version of TAL and said a few words before opening it up to questions. He said, "I'm here for you, so please just ask me anything!" After answering a wild ride of questions, he met each one of us and signed everything and even let people take pictures. He never lost patience or was bored with any of us. I never saw anyone so endlessly curious about other people. It gave me hope.

You know you are living in Ann Arbor when over 200 people show up at a book store on a very cold winter Saturday night!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Let's Have a Little Scientific Integrity

This week a group of concerned scientists issued a statement about government interference and political pressure brought to bear on scientific knowledge and research. It reminded me of a personal experience with just such an issue over 30 years ago.

We were living in a rural area and decided to raise "organic chickens"--chickens that were raised without hormones on only organic feed (grown without the help of Monsanto). To that end, we had to locate the grain and the proper additive so we could "make" our own special blend of feed. This required research, so we started where every good farmer would--at the local cooperative extension service.

Well, you would have thought we had decided to build a bomb, blow ourselves up and take our neighbors with us. These local representatives of the big university were totally in the pockets of BIG CHEMICAL. Any knowledge they had was thoroughly tainted. Any semblance of scientific objectivity about "organic chicken" was replaced with hysteria, fear and suspicion. We were looked upon as nut cases at best and subversives at worst.

Forgive me if I feel somewhat vindicated these days. . . .

Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Huron River

One of the really wonderful things about living in Ann Arbor is the Huron River and how much of its banks are totally accesible and not lined with multi-million dollar condos. How did they resist the developer's sweet talk? Good government, that's how. And I'm not afraid to say it. Those who hate government by policy--do so because it seeks to block them from exercising what they call "freedoms." Yeah...freedom to be a greedy slimeball. Freedom to destroy neighborhoods, suck the life out of small towns, devastate the environment. Somehow, the good people of Ann Arbor make their government work for them. We have a great transportation system, more parks were square mile than most small cities, recycling, and public services that seem to work most of the time. Progressives and liberals run this place and it stands as a model to how good government can work when the community's needs are put ahead of ideology.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Voting in the Michigan Primary

All of a sudden, conservatives have decided that the federal government really can have an effect on local economies like Michigan. They are promising billions to help us out now. It's too little too late. This exodus began a long time capitalism sucks dollars from one pocket to another. You don't have to have a Nobel prize in Economics to figure out who the winners are. Follow the jobs! Follow the money!

So how do I go about voting? Do I vote for the person whose viewpoints most reflect mine (Dennis), whose rhetoric is most inspiring (Barack) or the candidate with the most experience (Hillary)? Or do I cross over and vote for Mitt (what a Ken doll) or McCain (he's like the uncle you love but argue with all the time). Do I vote for Ron Paul? Is he even on our primary ballot? I've never been so undecided.

Monday, January 14, 2008

"comprehensive propensities"

In 1969, R. Buckminster Fuller opened his now classic Operating Manuel for Spaceship Earth with these prophetic words: "I am enthusiastic over humanity's extraordinary and sometimes very timely ingenuities. If you are in shipwreck and all the boats are gone, a piano top buoyant enough to keep you afloat that comes along makes a fortuitous life preserver. But this is not to say that the best way to design a life preserver is in the form of a piano top. I think that we are clinging to a great many piano tops in accepting yesterday's fortuitous contriving as constituting the only means for solving a given problem."

I can't help but reflect on Fuller's thoughts when I see the offerings at the Detroit Auto Show which opens this week. They sure have made a lot of pretty nice piano tops.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Things are Worse Than You Think!

Even Mike Huckabee thinks the Michigan economy stinks! When this poor guy called home, he probably told the family he had a new career in "marketing."

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

So Gone for So Long

I've been too busy and preoccupied with making my new nest to keep up with blogging. But the other day, an incident occurred that I just have to share. It's so Ann Arbor! After living in the big city, we are noticing how oddly civilized this little burg is. We got about a foot of snow, and it was so beautiful, we just had to venture out in it. Of course, that meant the layers of polar tech, the rain suit, heavy boots and gloves. I took my digital camera, but kept having to take off my gloves because I couldn't operate the shutter. I stuck my right glove in my left pocket, so I could work the camera.

We had trudged about 2 miles when I discovered that my glove was gone. My pocket was empty. We were too cold to retrace our steps, so we just went back to the loft to warm up.

The next day, we walked the exact same route, and there it was (just as my husband had predicted). Some citizen had hung my glove on the railing just above this sidewalk cafe that I had photographed.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

English Only

Apparently, English is losing ground to other languages here in America; otherwise, why would there be such an effort to "save" it? The "English only" folks fear that new immigrants are not learning our language, yet there is no credible evidence to support that conclusion. In fact, the statistics and considerable research show that today's immigrants are acquiring our language faster than ever before and usually through bi-lingual education programs. "In 1990, only 3% of U.S. residents reported speaking English less than well or very well. Only eight tenths of one percent spoke no English at all" (Crawford, 1998, "Ten Common Fallacies About Bilingual Education"). So what's up with this? Do we really need government intervention to preserve the purity of our own language?

And what exactly would passing laws making English the "official language" entail?

Just imagine the language police, like officious meter readers, running through French bistros in our major cities ticketing everyone who ordered creme brulee! Or spying on the Latino nannies in Beverly Hills as they call to their charges from the park benches? What about a reprimand for using the term deja vu? Perhaps, you would just get a warning. Elle magazine would have to change not only its name, but most of its advertising. And the poor Taco Belle doggie--he'd be fired in favor of a proper English setter. Or worse than that, we'd have to go back to calling a truck a "lorry" and the bathroom the "loo." Visions of Chinese menu burnings dance in my head! Where would we "detain" all the offenders? ?Ellis Island?

Seriously--the historical ignorance displayed by the current politicians who focus on this initiative is appalling. Our founding fathers, despite their many shortcomings, believed in both democratic principles and freedom of speech. The Continental Congress, itself, rejected John Adams' proposal to regulate American English through the establishment of an official language academy! So today's pundits are motivated by stereotypes and fear of diversity, and they know they can count on a certain number of votes if they can keep stirring up this witches brew of fear, racism and xenophobia. Viva Las Vegas! (as Elvis would sing).

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Mr. Potato Head

If you ever contemplate how far we've come as a society, just reflect on a favorite "toy" of the 1950's--the potato. Every home had one or two on hand all the time. It just took some creative person to envision the little feet, the jaunty bowler, the mustache, the arched eyebrows. The possibilities seemed endless.

Mr. Carrot didn't catch on--there wasn't enough real estate to work with. Mr. Beet would have been interesting if the color hadn't run so easily. Mr. Turnip has a cool purple stripe around it. Lot's of possibilities there. Broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage were out of the running. So was asparagus. Only the true root veggie of choice would hold those little push pin features, with which I'm surprised we didn't choke ourselves. Interesting that Mrs. Potato Head followed shortly after. Lot's more accessories there. Just imagine what a 22nd century kid will be playing with.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Wisdom of Jack's Mother

“My mother once said the world would never find peace until men fell at their women's feet and asked for forgiveness. This is true all over the world in the jungles of Mexico, in the back streets of Shang Hai, in New York cocktail bars, husbands are getting drunk while the women stay home with the babes of their ever darkening future. If these men stop the machine and come home and get on their knees and ask for forgiveness and the women bless them peace will suddenly descend on the earth with a great silence like the inherent silence of the apocalypse.” Jack Kerouac

Beat poetry came along
as I was being born and raised—I was much too young for it,
but it waited for me.
hung out in an Indianapolis coffee house called the 11th Hour-- (way before Starbucks was a gleam in the budding entrepreneur’s eye)
languished between the dusty shelves of John King’s in Detroit.
waited for me at the bus station in East Lansing.
slept on the faded benches near Plum Street, on the long grassy stretches of Belle Isle;
lurked in the alleyways off Woodward avenue,
lingered patiently in front of Lafayette Coney Island.
Caught up with me from time to time on John R as I drove east into the sunrise;
In my rear view mirror, weaving in and out of traffic,
heading south on the Lodge freeway.
Now, just today,
behind the Broadway Party Store, -
in front of the faded “Walt’s Crawlers” sign—
“telling the true story of the world in interior monologue.”*

*from Belief & Technique for Modern Prose by Jack Kerouac

Thursday, July 05, 2007


Michael Moore throws down with Dr. Gupta! Fantastic!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

All Politics are Local

1200 square feet is supposed to be enough space for two people--but I think they must be very small people who do not have home offices. Right now, my desk is in the master bedroom/loft above the living/dining/kitchen room. The laundry fits in a closet and you can literally put the clean underwear away by taking ONE step backward. It takes 15 minutes to vacuum and the two bathrooms are easily cleaned in 10 mins. My garden is reduced to 5 pots on the terrace and there's no lawn or garden to weed. So what do we do with all this time???? We walk, we eat, we walk some more. Every day is a new adventure. After dinner, we sit on Argo Pond and feed the ducks Zingerman's sourdough bread. We shop like Europeans--daily--and use the local farmer's market. $3.95 a pound for organic tomatoes!!! Yikes! Putting our money where our mouths are...tastes good! Local coffee, local cheese, local wine (not so yucky any more). Michigan strawberries are in already!!!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

DetroitGirl does Ann Arbor

For months, I've thought to write, but I was consumed with sorting the stuff of our lives so that we could move as little as possible. Ah, the dream of backpacking--pretty soon you have 80 pounds of stuff and you have to buy a bigger pack. That cute stove is so heavy that now you have to drive in. Pretty soon, you don't camp any more. Well, we aren't so spartan as all that, but it's been a real education letting go of so much so quickly. When we left our dear Fairway two mornings ago, I didn't shed a tear. I was so ready to let go by then.

This morning, we walked along the Argo Pond near the Huron River, reveling in the newness! We ate at a Latin restaurant last evening and have been finding places for the things we really treasure. The new loft space is walking distance to anything you could want--we just don't have any where to put it! The liquor store sells crawlers; a new cardiac unit is going up on the hill. I could literally crawl to the emergency ward from here--a senior citizen's dream! Yet, I feel like a kid again--running along side my bike and jumping on without hesitation.

Monday, January 22, 2007

More Stuff Finds a Home...

When we moved into our current house, we fully expected to leave "feet first." Now, I am looking forward to a few more adventures.

During the late 80's and early 90's, I shared a loft near the Eastern Market with another painter. Boy, did we have fun! You could throw paint, hang stuff anywhere--leave work laying around...stack stuff up on the windows--which had a great view of the river and Canada--and drag in stuff you found on the streets. It was liberating in every way--even the 6 floors I had to walk up to get there. Very early this morning, in yet another fit of insomnia, I tuned in "Eight Mile," and discovered that the alley and doorway to my old loft appears in the movie. It was thrilling to see it again--the narrow brick street, the antique sink mounted on the outside of the unrestored building. It made me long for the quirky, the unpolished, the authentic. That actually describes how our house looked when we bought it. Odd tiles, strange ceiling treatments, unpolished authenticity. We cleaned it up and restored it, and quite easily resisted the temptation to "hot-tub" it up. We didn't knock down walls or add marble floors. We simply cleaned it up and restored it to its original condition.

I'm not sure I have another big project like this last one in me, but I'm looking for something interesting, as long as I don't have to climb six flights of stairs to get there...

Sunday, January 21, 2007

It's Only Stuff

It's really interesting what kinds of material things end up being important and evocative. We're moving from a big old house to a radically smaller place and this forces us to make three (see HGTV's Mission Organization!) piles...keep, throw out, or store. But, that just doesn't work for me because each thing needs a good home. An album called "Louie, Louie" must go to my friend Louie! Where else does it belong? So, in the middle of the piles, we called him and he and his wife came to the rescue. They took all the vinyl! That was the most loving thing anyone could have done at that moment! I had sat, making myself crazy, amid piles and forgetting what each pile was--but each one was going to someone different!

The music we really loved had already been re-bought in the old/new technology-- CD's. The albums sat gathering dust and shaming us for not storing them in the way that scolding collectors would have. So, it was a huge relief to see these remnants of our youth find a new home.

Now, if only someone would buy me an Ipod, load it up with Van Morrison, Procol Harem, Jimi Hendricks, the Beatles, Joni Mitchell, The Band, Bob Dylan, and James Brown, I would be forever grateful. Between music and photos, there are some great memories just waiting to be savored--once we finally get settled again.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Just Imagine

What amazing progress might be made if 20,000 troops were made available to help rebuild New Orleans? Imagine how far a few billion dollars could go in creating a jobs program right here in Michigan. What would happen if CEOs who failed to build strong, ethical, sustainable companies were sent to the unemployment office like the rest of the workers? What if Detroit Public Schools had the well-funded infra-structure of its suburban neighbors? What if you could take a high-speed train from New York to L.A.? What if everyone planted just one 8-foot tree? What if everyone took a day off?

Thursday, December 28, 2006

If I Lived in New York

If I lived in New York City, this morning, I'd take the subway to the Apollo Theatre and pay tribute to James Brown. As a white girl growing up in suburban Detroit, soul music was the only antidote to the stifling, perky, Peter-pan collared, young womanhood to which I was supposed to aspire. But, fortunately, I found a very small group of like-minded girlfriends who would accompany me to the Fox Theatre every Christmas vacation to see the Motown Stars. Can I get a witness???

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

They Wanted a Challenge

I'm really very saddened that the body of one of the climbers of Mt. Hood was found yesterday. Like everyone else, I had hoped that they would be found alive and triumphant--having overcome the elements. On the other hand, I'm very angry! Three bright young men needed excitement and challenge so much that they left their families just prior to the holidays and went mountain climbing. While other members were shopping, decorating, planning holiday menus and wrapping presents, they chose the worst time of year to challenge Mt. Hood.

Now, I have a little experience with that mountain. An over eager friend took some of us hiking one summer and we got a little too far out... and on the way back, my hip began to throb and ache (and I was only 23)--so much so that I had to be carried back to the lodge in the dark. So much for taking a risk!

What strikes me is this...why is climbing any mountain considered such a challenge that men (mostly) are willing to spend time, money and risk their lives trying to climb it? Why don't they come into Detroit (or any major city)--empty out the crack houses, bust up the gangs, and disarm the drug lords? Talk about a challenge! Or maybe they could figure out a way to end homelessness. Perhaps they could aim their talents toward a real challenge: reduce child abuse, attack the high illiteracy rates, overhaul the foster care programs, figure out how we can get quality health care to all our children. If that's all too easy, how about the mental health system? There are so many real challenges out there, why go looking for a manufactured one?