Mr. Miles and the Boston Lyric Opera

John Miles is one of my heroes. This is a comment I wrote after reading a great spread in the Daily Texan of Mr. Miles speaking to a group of UT student athletes. They were also impressed. He's the real deal. I need to find the original article and put it up so it makes sense. Mr. Miles was a star player in the National Negro Baseball League during the 40's and 50's, and shares his stories about the times to promote awareness of the league. The Firing Line - Opinion

But not tonight. I spent several hours crafting a piece on the Boston Lyric Opera production of "Madama Butterfly" that my daughter took me to see while I was in Boston. I lost it. Extreme frustration. Doncha hate that? It was such a special event on so many levels I can't let it get away. E and I were involved in the Opera Festival of New Jersey production of Butterfly several years ago so we knew it from top to bottom, including costume changes and the particular Brescia version both companies used. Our enjoyment was heightened by the shared experience and knowledge.

Exquisite production. Costumes were breathtaking, and the singing sublime. The stage director employed a Kabuki Theater style of acting which was perfect for the work. The chorus was magnificent in geisha costume on-stage, and sublimely rendered the fiendishly difficult "Humming Song," sung off-stage. I had a view of the pit monitor that allows the out of sight chorus to watch the conductor for cues. It was a very special evening.

I promise you'll get the details, but don't hold your breath...


Halloween in Boston

Boston couldn't be more different than Austin. Even holidays have a different feel. A Boston Halloween is chilly, with an early darkness, a slightly more sinister feel. Maybe because Salem is just up the road. Last year's Boston trip took in Salem, Lexington, Concord, filled in some gaps in Revolutionary history left from living in Princeton and learning about that part of our heritage. Including learning more about the Salem witches and the hysteria gripping the fledgling country during that very brief period of time.

Kinda reminds me of what our current administration is trying to do in frightening voters with lies and distortions to stay in power. I voted early before leaving for New England. Let's hope that no evil spirits try to hack the election...it's sad that the brave folks who carried the word at Lexington over two hundred years ago and stood up to the British on that small green fought so courageously and with such complete commitment for the very rights that are being butchered right and left today. I'm quite sure they would be terribly disappointed in all of us.

It's a sad state of affairs when the people of a nation are more afraid of their leaders than of foreign entities. And even sadder when those leaders use that fear to erode and diminish what our country has stood for since its breathtakingly brave inception.

What do the Grand Canyon and the Rolling Stones have in common?

The Grand Canyon and the Rolling Stones? Twice now I've had slightly askew experiences with each one. I've been to the Grand Canyon twice--in the middle of the night. Back in the day with the compulsive/impulsive ex, we drove the northern route from Texas to California. The sign pointing to the G.C. was too much for him to resist, even though we were more than 100 miles south both times, and it was already sunset or later. Result? I've seen the vasty deeps pretty much in pitch dark.

The Stones at least I heard. First time in Sydney, Australia, '96. We lived on Harris Street, down the cliffside from Edgecliff, at the top of a tiny canyon that spread out to a small park and cricket pitch. The Sydney Cricket Grounds were less than a mile away, and the night the Stones played there the sound funneled right up the canyon. Sat on the deck and reminisced.

The Stones were at Zilker Park in Austin a couple of weeks ago, and since I live two blocks from the park, I heard them from a similar distance. This concert was shorter and slower. Can't believe it was ten years ago their sounds filled the air in Australia.

So what's the significance? Must be something happening to have been in proximity to two such major forces of nature and to have had at least one sense muffled or missing from all four experiences. I grudgingly admit to enjoying the G.C. after dark, and fully get behind listening to the Stones without paying obscene ticket prices to either concert.

Maybe it's the ability to be able to feel mostly satisfied with a less than "perfect" experience. But only with forces of nature, I want more from life in general...


Deconstructing Design at UCDA

OK, so it's day three at the UCDA conference, and finally an interactive session! It's been mostly powerpoints and lectures, just the sort of presentations that my group tries to teach faculty NOT to use so much. So this was a boxed lunch event presented by Henk van Assen, dir. of undergrad studies at Yale Univ. School of Art. He also has a NYC studio, HvADesign, and taught at the School of Visual Design in NYC and at UT Austin. The session was "Design Elements and Principals Creative Workshop." After a very brief reminder of the basics, we were given scissors, glue sticks, a nice, thick, white 11"x14" stock, piles of mags and newspapers, and the directive to solve this design problem: create a piece that demonstrates good design focusing only on type, in one hour and ten minutes. Well, with a room full of professional designers, you can imagine the depth of creative ideas. Henk was stunned. He said he imagined that the group would sit around chatting for a while, munch on lunch, start clipping, get distracted and begin to read the articles rather than concentrate on the problem, and that most of us wouldn't finish in the allotted time. He was nearly speechless when he called time and one by one folks threw down some high quality stuff. It even attracted the attention of Michael Walsh, art director for Visual Arts Press, the design studio for the School of Visual Arts. He was equally impressed. What had taken their students most of a semester to complete we designers knocked off in less than an hour and a half. We hastened to point out that since most of us worked for colleges and universities, it was because we were used to insane deadlines. Of course the pieces weren't polished, but probably every one could have stood up as a preliminary design.

Soooo...then Henk asked the group to comment on pieces that stood out and gave a brief mini-critique, someone pointed mine out! And Henk liked it! He got it! The idea of the letters exploding, and the fact that it went "outside the lines" and transcended the borders. Since I am not a schooled designer, except for the one where you get hard knocks, I was quite flattered. Nothing like a little professional affirmation to make you feel included...


Ann Richards, Remarkable Woman

This is a view of the Texas State capitol rotunda in Austin where Ann Richards is lying in state, and where I would be paying my respects, were I not attending the University and College Design Association (UCDA) annual conference at a nearby hotel. As Travis Co. commissioner, State Treasurer, other capacities, and finally governor, Ann included more women and minorites in political appointments than any other politician or group of politicians before or since. She would have gotten a second term as governor had it not been for a particularly nasty, rotten smear campaign mounted by Karl Rove for his boss, GWB. She fixed everything that needed fixing in her first term, and would have gone on to lift Texas back to its former glory had Bush & Co. not worked their stinking swift-boat syndication and fooled the voters.

Ann was one of my sheroes. She was building a leadership school for young women here in Austin which should open in '07, and left instructions that donations be made to the school in lieu of flowers. You can bet that even though it may be only a few bucks, I'll make sure her school gets a couple from me. Goodbye, Ann, I will miss you, and I thank you for your good work.


Saint Paisley of Austin

Every once in a while I'm pleasantly reminded of the exalted state of iconoclasticism some of my friends have reached. One such is Paisley Robertson, long-time fixture in the Austin music and social culture. Paisley was born and raised in Denton, Texas, spent time in Brattleboro, VT, Mexico, and goddess knows which points between, but has spent most of her life here in Austin, Texas as a rock 'n roll singer and waitperson to the rich and famous. Paisley is also a member of the Lady Diana Garden Club, those ubiquitous women who swim in tiaras every New Year's Day at Barton Springs, among other social (ad)ventures.

Paisley supports a bevy of artists and musicians in a number of ways, and has introduced me to some of the more eclectic members of Austin society, both high, medium, low, and fringe. It was at Westwinds, her renovated barn/estate in central Austin, for a Texas Independence Day celebration, when I first met Molly Ivins, one of my sheroes.

I've known Paisley since I was nineteen and she was seventeen, back in 1965, Denton Texas. So I don't think she'll mind if I share an e-mail post she sent this morning. I'll just add my own fervent "Amen."

Subject: Ste. Paisley's Prayer,

Not much is known about Saint Paisley.
We know that she is/was the patron saint of napping and road trips (and some believe of aging gracefully and comfort food). A rare small iconic picture of her in rapture has surfaced .
Recently (on ebay) I bought an old menu from the Juicy Pig Restaurant in Denton Texas. The Juicy Pig was torn down in 1969. On the back written in pencil (next to the description of 'susie-q' fries) was the following prayer: (stand up and put your hands on the radio and say I BELIEVE!)










STE. Paisley


How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

You study music for years and years. Practice makes possible. This photo, taken in April of 1993, is of me, my mom, and my daughter. It's under the placque by the front door of Carnegie Hall, following a performance of "Mazeppa," by P.I. Tchaikovsky in which my daughter and I sang with Princeton Pro Musica and the Opera Orchestra of New York. My mom flew in from Chicago for the performance, and she and I remained in the city that night and the next day before returning to our home in Princeton for a week's visit. That was the last time I saw my mom alive and functioning.

I had sung at Carnegie several times before, but this year, Ms. E had auditioned for and was accepted by Princeton Pro Musica, under the direction of Frances Slade, a wonderful person, friend, and musician, who still leads the group in making fabulous music. Each year, PPM collaborates with the Opera Orchestra of New York, led by the equally wonderful Eve Queller, in two concert performances of a major opera rarely mounted because of monster casts, staging, or other costs associated with a full production. One production takes place in Princeton in Alexander Hall and features a cast of young up-and-coming opera stars, which is notable for its passion and energy.

The second expands into the venerable Carnegie Hall, with a cast that includes the creme de la creme of the opera world, and while the youthful passion may not be present, the gravitas and brilliance of both the luminaries on stage and the audience were certainly sufficient to warm the cockles of this old heart. Especially when I got to share the stage with my beautiful and talented daughter and watch her comport herself so professionally, singing flawlessly in Russian, no less. And espying my mom and family and friends in the balcony, waving like a madwoman--not so professionally, but I spent decades being straight-laced and professional on stage, and I THUMB my NOSE at being a stick in the mud anymore, and well-behaved women rarely make history, anyway, so there, and it didn't stop me from getting to perform on stage at the Sydney Opera House later in life, so wotthehell.

At any rate, with the Valley Forge Military Institute marching band, the American Boy Choir, our group, the Opera Orchestra, the soloists, and various and sundry superluminaries, it was a splendid production, and our little fan club presented us with roses afterwards and got to meet some of the principals in the green room afterwards, and we got this lovely photo that I will cherish always.

The next morning, mother and I made the Red Grooms exhibit at Grand Central Station and ate the obvious at the Oyster Bar and then took the NJ Transit train down to Princeton where she visited for a week before flying back to Chicago. Two weeks later, we got a call that she had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and was in the Northwestern U. hospital ICU. My sisters and I met there, and spent the next 24 hours with her, celebrating, weeping, watching the Bulls, ordering good Chicago pizza for the ICU staff, missing a Little Feat performance, where she would have been had she been conscious, saying goodbye, and finally, disconnecting the breathing machine that was the only thing keeping her alive.

A couple of years ago, after my stepfather passed away, my sisters and I were going through my mom's belongings and I came across the necklace she was wearing in the picture in front of Carnegie Hall. I hung onto it for a while, and when I noticed it was the same necklace, had the idea to make a shadow box with the necklace and the photo together and give it to my daughter for a Christmas or birthday gift. I got as far as gathering all the components, but never put it together. I gave it all to her anyway. I wonder if she has put it together. If she hasn't, maybe the next time I visit her, I will.

I miss singing at Carnegie Hall. I miss singing with my daughter. I miss my mom. I miss a lot about my life in Princeton. But I'm finding neat things to do in Austin. Like writing a blog. And singing with Austin Vocal Arts Ensemble. And other things I'll be writing about, so stay tuned...


Freaking HOT!

Like every other place on this planet. And it's getting hotter. Sitting in the auto service center this afternoon, waiting for a new tire to be put on my car, got into a conversation with the only other person in the joint, a young woman, lives in the country outside Luling. She was concerned about the fire hazard, just a spark, and her whole place could go up in this drought.

We got off on the subject of all the current ills of the country, the world, and somehow we seemed to agree on most everything--the oil companies have the world in a strangle-hold, we need to take care of our own problems, etc., etc. Then she said "we should bring home all our troops from every country and close all our borders, even though I know we're in Iraq for a good reason, they came over here and killed 6,000 of our people, so we needed to go in there." I said, "What do you mean?" She said, "Well, the Taliban, they came over here and flew airplanes into the World Trade Center."

I just couldn't let it go. I said, bluntly, with all the certainty in my body, "oh, no, the Taliban was in Afghanistan at that time, they were supported by our country against the Soviet Union, we armed them, they came into Iraq AFTER we invaded it. The folks who flew into the WTC were Saudis, not Iraqis. We only invaded Iraq because Cheney and the PNAC wanted to get rid of Hussein and get the oil for themselves."

She blinked once, and changed the subject.

We continued to chat for a few minutes, then she got up and went outside to sit. It was over 100 degrees, but there was a stiff breeze blowing. I guess it was more comfortable out there than it was inside with me...


World's Oldest Mommy Blogger

Ms. E called around 12:45 this morning, excited about some new online learning programs she's involved in--languages and wine tasting. She took six years of French in school, but lost a lot, and wants to regain it, is a self-avowed Francophile. When she got a peek at Italian, she latched onto it as well, so looks like Italy may be our next port 'o call for a birthday destination. One of my oldest, dearest friends is a wine expert, and introduced her to a vintage from the year she was born--a Northern California Cab from 1976, utter ambrosia. She also introduced the idea that a good wine is the one that tastes best to you--my friend is ultra knowledgeable, celebrates birthdays with the oldest of the established wine families both in the US and abroad, but is down to earth and not snobbish in the least. Her gift is a richly developed memory for taste. Her tongue remembers what the grapes were like on a certain hillside in a certain year in any part of the world.

But that's not what I was going to write about. The phone call was also about a special on Billie Jean King we both saw, but more than that, about the feminist movement, and the implications of our generations vis a vis that movement. She was being born right about the time BJ was fighting for not just equal pay for women in tennis, but any pay at all for any woman in any professional sport. Just 15 short years later, when this photo was taken in 1990 in Princeton, NJ, girls thought nothing of having the opportunity to suit up and play such sports as lacrosse, field hockey, soccer, team rowing on Lake Carnegie, and to be able to compete on a mostly level playing field with their male classmates. It never occurred to them that their mothers might not have had those same opportunities.

Ms. E, however, cut her teeth on Ms. magazine, feminist theory, and heard both her mom and grandmother carry on daily about male/female parity, or the lack thereof, and learned from an early age to spot the inequalities that still seem to linger. She had the sense, even in the predominantly male field of scientific research, to not succumb to the tendency to play by the rules of the patriarchy, but to find her own path and remain true to her own authentic self. It has paid off for her, in terms of promotions and salary increases, plus keeping her stress level down in the otherwise highly competitive world of scientific research, and I'm proud and relieved that she figured all this out before it could crush her, as we've often seen happen to women in her field. She enjoys her work, sets her own goals, and is happy to reach them without having to step on someone else to get there.

This is a new turn on the evolutionary wheel of feminism. I was speaking with a work associate this afternoon about the early days of feminism, when "competition" meant having to play harder and faster, but still using men's rules. I noted that back then, women didn't really have a clear idea where they were going--there were few role models, few constructs to show us how it was done. We were so used to there being only one set of rules, we didn't know we could make up new ones. I think that was why there was a time when women were so fiercely competitive with each other--they hadn't yet figured out that we could get it done better when we cooperated--there was a residual fear, or tentativeness that wouldn't allow us to totally let go of the monolithic status quo and be OK with experimentation. Too much hung in the balance. We had to be perfect. We had to be RIGHT. We had to WIN, or else we were failures.

Now we know that this kind of thinking was just the birthing pains, the cracking of the shell, wriggling around in our new skin til it felt right, til we learned that failure was not the end, not death at all, but the first step toward finding what might work, what would eventually work, and work better. Perhaps it was the beginning of forgiveness, as well. For me, forgiving myself from feeling the pull of the masculine authority, the fear that I was nothing if I didn't please the man, whoever he might be. Forgiving other women for thinking that they had to be cut-throat to win, no matter the killer cost to themselves and everyone around them, for not seeing that there was a better way.

If I were to name my role models now, they would be my sheroes, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, many others of those strong women who are good and true to themselves and say what they think and are solid in saying so, and the younger generations who have grown up in an atmosphere of confidence and equality, with no leftover baggage from the chauvinistic, mysogynistic patriarchy that damped down so many great minds of my age, the young women of today like my daughter, whose minds are free of those shackles and whose visions of the future are clear enough to ensure a healthy equality for us all.


A very merry unbirthday, or half birthday to me!

Today is my half birthday! When I was growing up, our family lived all over the country, and would take a couple of weeks each summer to return to Texas to visit the grandparents, paternal set in Elgin, and the maternal set in Greenville. Greenville at that time had a creamery called the Sabine River Valley Ice Cream Company. They had special flavors in the summer, including honeydew melon, which was my favorite. So on July 18, my half birthday, he would take me and my sisters to get ice cream cones. Later, I named my favorite Aussie in honor of the creamery, the day, and my Papaw. We called her Sabine, or E would call her "Bean" for short.

Spent another wonderful weekend seeing friends I hadn't in over 30 years, one I've been in contact with since I moved back to Austin, and met several new friends.
Some of the women were old high school mates of the younger sister of a long time dear friend of mine. Got that? One of those two degrees stories. One of the women invited my friend and I to stay with her when we take our New Mexico journey this September. We already have invites to two homesteads, both are solar-powered and off the grid, and the house (or collection of stations) we visited this weekend was also run by the sun and off the grid.

For my half birthday present to myself I finally got serious about unjamming my scanner, and was successful! YAY! I've been scanning some photos that I know I don't have the negative for, except I'm noticing some strange discolorations which I think are from the scanner glass plate. So not totally successful, but enough to get moving again, which feels good after so long. All those watery striations on the photo above are not actually on the photo itself. The upper left photo taken on Velasco St. in Dallas, TX in probably July of 1968. Right photo is of Kathy, Loralyn, and me at the L.A. airport in 1970. Or at Love Field in Dallas...dang, can't remember whether I was coming or going! I'll be scanning lots of those pics that I can't find negatives for.


Fear and two degrees of separation

Google can be a most wondrous tool. In the past year, I've been googled by several people I lost touch with over 35 years ago. This can be a good thing, and it can be a bad thing. In these cases, it was a good thing. Google is perhaps the greatest tool to support my theory that there are no longer six degrees of separation, there are only two, and soon, I predict just one degree of separation between any of us on this earth. We know someone who knows someone who knows us. The wheel turns, and brings old friends, loved ones, and even estranged family back together again. These photos were sent to me by a friend who has retired and is living in Costa Rica, and I am very glad we are back in touch.

The photos touched me in a way that I've never experienced before. Sure, I have photos of me at that age sitting around the house, I know what I looked like, but rarely have I seen photos that were so completely candid, so much so that I don't remember them being taken. It is as if they are of a stranger. They give me a much more objective glimpse of myself than when I'm staring into my own eyes my own self. That's more direct, I'm mirroring myself, I'm aware of myself. These photos are OF me through someone else's eyes, taken unawares.

At first, I didn't even recognize them. Then I nearly burst into tears. I felt a kind of sadness I'd never felt before. Not a sadness for lost youth, but a feeling of compassion, a feeling of wanting to protect such an innocent, vulnerable looking young girl, a panicky fearfulness, of wanting to run to her, to warn her, to protect and shelter her from what I know will become her fate. More the pain of lost innocence, a maternal feeling of helplessness in the face of the inevitable. Even more so than with my own child, my own daughter.

Actually, this is good. This makes me think that I have done a better job as a mother than I did as a young woman trying to make her way in a pre-feminist world, in a decidedly more chauvinistic world, when not only were men less capable and aware of treating women as equals, but women were more accustomed to being treated as less than equal, and had no better options, or did not recognize them if they appeared. I like to think that I helped prepare my daughter for life better than I was prepared.

Which brings me around to fear. I received an e-mail from a friend whose birthday party I attended last weekend. There were 3 of us older women at the party, all divorced, and we'd had a discussion about fear keeping us from being who we truly are, that it dictates how we sometimes tend to think we have to try to please and take care of everyone except ourselves, and how damaging that can be to ourselves and those around us. My friend told me that she had taken that discussion to heart, and that she was feeling less afraid about making her own needs known, and that she was feeling stronger, more centered, and more balanced.

I would love to walk up to that wild child, that wisp of a girl in these photos, and say, "Do not be afraid. There are some who would knock you down, tell you lies about yourself, tell you that you are less than if you don't put them first and subjugate your own self to please them. I tell you that you must always seek your own truth. Seek your center and your own balance. Keep yourself healthy so that you can help others to be healthy. Do not let anyone take your own truth from you, for if you do, you will be giving away your very soul. If you are true to yourself, you need never be afraid, for you are of value. You are." Since I can't go back 37 years, then I will just have to say that to every woman I meet, regardless of her age, including myself, every chance I get.

Wild Child, Decker Canyon, 1969

Who is this wild child, this wisp of a girl? Why is she here, in this canyon far from family, far from her beginnings? Where is she going? What star calls her, and what name does it call her by? Who does she think she is?

How can she believe the world will ever listen to her, that it is bound to recognize her intelligence, her constancy, her compassion, her integrity, her gifts?

How can she withstand the cruelly casual betrayals, the grinding devaluation of all that she is, the demeaning of her self, without losing all that is good within her, without succumbing to the instinct to strike back, or to go to ground, numb with despair, righteous anger turned to depression?

How can she slip the bonds, become herself, triumph over indignities and callous abuses?

Will she survive? Can she thrive? Did she?

Did I?

Decker Canyon, Topanga Canyon, Woodland Hills, Southern California, circa 1969.


Thanks, Judythe

In two earlier posts I mention the loss of my friend and supervisor, Judythe Wilbur. It has taken some time to grind through the Kubler-Ross stages of grief to arrive at a place that I feel I can articulate more than the requisite memorial piece to describe a woman whose thinking was so like mine it scares me. Her loving obituary, crafted by literary-wise friends with the help of her husband, describes her to the maximum that could possibly be fit into such a proscribed format. The space she left was so much larger, so of the world, I'm compelled to build a word-shrine, as it were, since that was how we met and how we related--through words and writing.

I sat by Judythe for 18 months, crafting articles, descriptions, press releases, reports, many of the communications for our group under her watchful eye. She was always supportive, especially of my personal writing, which I would share with her outside of work. We e-mailed about politics constantly, as news events broke, and I was excited about turning her on to indie on-line news sources. We also shared a love of literature, and I turned her on to my fave Australian writers, which I specialized in during the two years I lived there.

When she was diagnosed with cancer in October of 2005, our bond became even stronger. I lost my best friend, three grandparents, and countless other close friends to cancer, and I was neither put off nor afraid of going through it with her. We e-mailed each other right to the end, when she was no longer able to do so. She loved her work, and I felt that by staying in touch with her I was not only remaining her friend, I was able to link her with what was going on in our team and keep her updated with how we were doing, even though I always assured her that we missed her and wanted her back with us.

As it became apparent that she would not return to the office, I found myself approaching my work thinking "WWJD--What Would Judythe Do?" knowing that her good teaching and style would forever inform my work, and that if I listened, she would be there, telling me to chop those prepositional phrases, cut to the bone, and write for clarity.

Judythe passed away the first week of May, and her passing was the first of an astonishing number of passings in just two months, of parents and relatives and friends in my immediate group. Dazed, I kept thinking, "why so many, why so quickly?" My daughter's boyfriend's father was diagnosed in March, passed away in May--that quickly. The stories kept coming in.

Over the July 4 holiday, I browsed through some feminist blogs, dipping here and there into threads that caught my attention, and found myself grabbed by the throat by an Austin woman who in I Blame the Patriarchy is blogging about, among other things, her experience with the BrCA2 cancer gene and her research and findings. She references Barbara Ehrenreich, who has written an in-depth and also throat-grabbing essay on cancer and cancer treatment in America today entitled Welcome to Cancerland that is a must-read for everyone--male and female. They both speak of what I and many others have suspected since the 70's, that there is a direct correlation between pollution and many forms of cancer--whether there is specific research to back this up or not pales in the face of anecdotal but very real experience.

Living in Australia for two years acquainted me with what UV radiation zapping through "holes" in the ozone layer can do to that miracle organ, the human skin. The incidence of melanoma is one in three in Australia and New Zealand. I was deeply shocked the first time I pulled off my t-shirt to find that I'd gotten a sunburn THROUGH MY CLOTHES. It was a common sight to see people walking around with bits of their face missing, or wearing veils to cover up larger voids. Parents were required to dress their children in neck to elbow to knee bathing costumes made of SPF 60+ fabric topped off with desert rat caps on the beach, or expect the legal consequences of child abuse. School children were not allowed outside for recess without a hat and slathering of sunscreen, and industrial-sized dispensers were de rigeur at exit doors in schools and on construction sites.

I also have a lot to say stemming from what I learned about the realities of breast cancer through working for UT's Breast Cancer Research Project for two years, before it expanded into the Women's Wellness Center, under the direction of Dr. Mary Lou Adams. The horror stories from the patriarchy-dominated thrall over women's bodies and health still make me wake some nights gasping for breath. Thank goodness Dr. Adams and her staff were able to get much needed services to women in Travis County whose circumstances vis a vis their husbands' control over their bodies were more dire than most of us could ever imagine in our wildest dreams.

I recalled Judythe, who respected the anonymity of her two women's bookclubs above all else, musing about how the various chemotherapy protocols for certain cancers were affecting members of her groups. Some had few ill side-effects, while others were devastated. This was when I made my offer to shave my head in solidarity--the offer still goes to you, Molly--I'm only breaking anonymity because you are such a public figure and have already gone public with your experiences as a cancer survivor--I read your article and think everyone should read that as well. It's truly a tiny thing in the face of what these, and all women who undergo treatment, endure. At the Celebration of Judythe's Life, I wanted to go around the room and hug every woman whose hair was in the obvious and various stages of growing out from chemo. Had we not been there for the purpose of honoring Judythe and visiting with her husband, son, and sisters, and that they might possibly have not welcomed such an advance from a total stranger, I would have.

So this word-shrine will be made up of lots of things. Shiny, pretty objects, photos, essays, links, musings, research, diatribes, the political/social/environmental dialectical re: cancer, references, maybe some of her fave tunes, resources, silliness, perhaps comments or stories from anyone who has anything to add about Judythe or any of these subjects--an ongoing, living tribute to Judythe and a constant font of gratitude for the positive effect she had on me personally and everyone she touched.

Boomer Chick: Musings of an Over the Hill Chick

Boomer Chick: Musings of an Over the Hill Chick is a complete hoot. This is a person I'd love to meet and swap stories with.


Victory over Vampirism!

For the last three weeks I've been skulking behind houses and buildings, timing my exits from caverns, Oblivion gates, and other esoteric haunts to coincide with night-time hours, because I got myself infected with hemophilia porphyria, or vampirism. Bloody inconvenient, so to speak. Not to mention nauseatingly gross to watch yourself suck blood from homeless people, with one of your hands on their waist, one on the lousy pallet near their head, to calm them should they begin to wake while you're feeding...

One simply cannot lead an ordinary life as an adventurer/wizard and get on with your business while avoiding the sun, hunting down arcane ingredients for the cure, putting up with snide remarks such as "ewwww, get away from me, you're not getting MY blood," and the like. I kept going through this fruitless cycle of chasing down an Argonian, which are difficult to find, stabbing him, getting thrown into jail, timing the fast travel so I could get to the witch who lived in the most awkward corner of the woods before I shriveled to a piece of burned-up leather, only to find that the line that would alert her that I'd done the deed just WOULD NOT highlight. Gigged the poor Argonian three times before I realized I was using the Wrong Enchanted Dagger!

Victory over Vampirism has come to be the perfect metaphor for colossal avoidance. Where are those canny comments on those profound blogs I planned to send? Sitting in my drafts box. Where are those 15 minute times "exorcises" that will jump-start my newest round of memoirs? Sitting in my notebook, waiting for the start whistle. Where are the fabuloso fotos from yesteryear? Waiting for the paper jam to be unstuck. Where are the clean sheets that will transform my bed into a yoga platform? Sitting folded, in the living room, fer crissakes.

I love playing RPGs. I rarely watch TV anymore. But the result is the same--time that could have been better spent otherwise. I'm still on University dial-up, which means that the built-in firewalls won't even let the huge MPOGs through. Did that stop me from buying TWO of them and spending months trying to get around those firewalls? Guess.

Anyone wanna buy a never used copy of EverQuest Platinum? Please?


l'Occitane, Amsterdam, and great memories

This fabulous woman in the rain in the Dutch medieval town of Edam is my daughter. When I got home from work this evening, Linus led me up the stairs to point out a package that he could tell was from her by smelling her scent. Inside the package there were boxes within boxes of goodies, and a card saying, "Hopefully this will conjure memories of Amsterdam! Love you lots and lots, E." In a black Sephora box tied with a red ribbon was a 500 ml pump bottle of l'Occitane, the wonderful French provence vervaine body soap stocked in the Hotel Amstel where we stayed. Arranged around that were eight albums containing a full set of photos she'd taken while we were there, and several DVDs of various entertaining things. AND two very generous phone calling cards. Is that just the most thoughful kid, or what?

Yes, sweetie, heart melting memories! I'll never forget our milestone birthday trip to the Netherlands. However, isn't it time we began planning our NEXT birthday trip??? We can keep it to the Western Hemisphere, if you want, plenty to see on this side of the big water... :)

Love, yo mama.


More images, more images!

The scanner/printer choked to death on a half inch stack of paper. So much for scanning those thousands of images of Janis Joplin, Led Zepplin, the stars of yesteryear from my days as a pop festival photographer, traveling the country independently with camera and press pass or as a staffer with Showco Sound. My dear friend Loralyn, former news photographer with the former Dallas Times Herald, taught me to rely on my own eye, no light meter, to capture the moment, when we went shooting around Dallas or throughout the the north Texas countryside.
I don't hear much from Loralyn these days, though I'd love to, she was another of my artistic friends who informed my sensibilities as a nineteen year old in 1965, breaking out of the chauvinistic restrictions of the times and knowing who we were, but not how to deal with the crushing masculine chokehold on society and the limitations that slammed down on all of us.

Don't judge her teaching abilities (or my technique!) by this shot of the water sculpture at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam on a chilly, rainy April afternoon. This was my first trip abroad with a camera in ten years, and I was ignorant of how strong airport x-ray machines are these days, so I lost 3/4 of my photos. Bummer. Next time I'll know to protect them more carefully. The water sculpture runs constantly, not just when it rains, by the way. Snapped while waiting to purchase a print version of the Rembrandt-Caravaggio exhibit featured during Rembrandt's 400th birthday celebration.

As for Janis et al...they'll have to wait til I wrestle the paper from the maw of this tantalizing but useless scanner.

Truth through film, music, and living authentically

Went to see An Inconvenient Truth at Alamo Drafthouse South. My first visit there since it was City Market since it was Fiesta. Strange to watch indie movies where the produce used to be. Great film. Every American under the age of 50 MUST see this film. My generation was screaming about global warming (among other petroleum industry catastrophies) in the late 60's and early 70's, and lo and behold, it has come to pass. Also has come to pass the military/industrial behemoth that has such a grip on the American way of life that it was inevitable. The kids need to see it. This is what they're growing up with, and if it doesn't change soon, there won't be any world for them to finish growing up in. It's really as simple as that.

Dang. I've noticed that my blog is coming down on the heavy side. To lighten up, go watch the band Ouch! on Youtube as they pay loving tribute to that crazy band the Rutles as they pay loving tribute to the Beatles. My friend Mike D, the audio wizard at work, is one of the gear Pre-Fab Four, and Ouch! served up a joyous set of Monty Python-esque nearly Beatles tunes at Jovita's last night. We stuck around to catch the first set of the Eggmen, who actually do Beatles tunes, and it was great fun singing along and re-creating those long-ago feelings of wonderment when first I heard "well, she was just seventeen, you know what I mean..." Nothing like a Beatles sing-along to end your work week.

Cindy Chang came up in an earlier post. Here's why I want to be reincarnated as Cindy--she is one of the most creative women I've ever had the privilege to know, and you can get a taste of that from her podcasts, which serve up a sampling of what she has in her music library, which is formidable. Cindy, or Adzuki Bean, has a master's degree in mathematics, does kickass IT, sings like an angel (I know, I sat right next to her for a while), does great Web and desktop publishing stuff (ditto, cause we worked together), plays flute AND violin, is a certified gemologist (I proctered her exams) and jewelry maker, phenomenal photographer and artist, and is the most stylish goth chick I've ever met. There's goth, and then there's Cindy--ruby red velvet platform sling-back sandals? From the 70's? She's got 'em. Wears 'em like she was born in 'em. She wrote a super sweet sonnet for my birthday, which I adore because she talks about scrawny sopranos cowering in fear of my laser-accurate pitch (WEG--I'm a total pitch-witch alto II). She's got a great ear AND eye, by the way, and a visit to her sites will brighten your day.


Almost Urban

Almost Urban, the Austin American Statesman's latest entry on its incredible blogroll, covers the burgeoning hip-hop scene in Central Texas (see the entry below on Assasyn Dynasty). A.U. is blogged by an engaging, intelligent young woman named Deborah Sengupta, who is not your typical MTV-type reporter. Her articles are incisive, thoughtful, and in no way sycophantic or cliche'd. She treats the subject and the musicians with the dignity and respect that they are due, and in doing so, at long last validates the genre in the Austin music scene.

It's about time Austin expanded its musical awareness to acknowledge the hip-hop genre, And Deborah Sengupta does so with style and grace in Almost Urban.


My roommates

These are my roommates, Linus Pawling and Buddha. Both of them live outside, for the most part. Buddha has an old hitching post, and Linus has a centuries old live oak tree, with branches wide enough to stretch out on. He shares it with generation after generation of families of squirrels, raccoons, possums, and Inca doves. He used to have a brother named Albert Einstein, but when they "improved" Robert E. Lee Drive several years ago and re-routed the traffic through our neighborhood, a speeding car took him out early one Saturday morning.

Linus grieved for a solid month, visiting each place Albert had been, crying at the doors and windows of our neighbors, asking where he was, sitting in the exact spots Albert had sat, taking over his place in my lap...one had sat on my chest, the other in my lap. By the end of the month I was at my wits' end, frantically searching for some way to pull him out of his depression. In desperation, I finally cracked open a can of tuna, and he perked up after that.

My next door neighbor dug a grave, and we lit incense and invited all the neighborhood cats and dogs to a small, brief ceremony. We placed a limestone brick to mark the spot, and Albert has now been joined by Lulu LaRue, aka Fluffy on a Stick.

To my knowledge, the Gautama Buddha had no siblings, or conversely, we are all his brothers and sisters...


Celebrations of Life--Molly Ivins, are you listening?

Sunday afternoon I went to my friend and supervisor's home to celebrate her life with dozens of her friends and family. Her husband and son welcomed us all with both joy and sadness and endured heartfelt vignettes that painted a poignant portrait of an extraordinary and wonderful woman who meant the world to many people. I encountered two people who stood out to me in very different ways. One woman introduced herself, and after chatting for a few moments, I was struck by a sense of familiarity. With a sense of certainty, I said, "I know you," and proceeded to ask questions that peeled the layers of the onion that is my life until we arrived at Denton, Texas, 1965-67, when we were both married to jazz musicians and our paths had crossed for a time. It so happens that her first husband had googled me last year, called me up from Las Vegas, NM, and one of the first things I asked him was "where is J now?" There are no longer six degrees of separation, only two at the outside...My friends had belonged to a book group together, and a circle was completed.

Another woman was wearing a colorful jacket and jaunty velvet cap, smiling from behind large, black framed glasses. My friend belonged to another bookclub with this woman, Molly Ivins, and I restrained myself from falling at her feet, for Molly is hands down one of my favorite writers, and one of my personal sheros. There are only a few, very special women that I would like to be reincarnated as, and Molly tops my list, which also includes Barbara Jordan, Bonnie Raitt, and Cindy Chang. When my friend lost her hair to chemo, I offered to shave my head in solidarity, but she would not allow me to do so. Molly, if you ever read my blog, I make the same offer to you--I would proudly bare my head to stand in solidarity with one of the most eloquent, funny, brave, loving women I know. Molly, my hat's off to you, bald or hairy.


Representing Assasyn Dynasty

Socially responsible hip-hop is alive and well in Austin and San Antonio, or Saturn, as the fellas call it, as surprising as that may sound at first. Assasyn Dynasty, a group of incandescent young men who eschew the gangsta rap image of violence and disrespect, are more reminiscent of the hard-driving protest sounds of the '60's, speaking the truth of moral decay from top to bottom in the US and advocating communication and positive action rather than the rough justice usually associated with rap and hip-hop.

Blending the sounds of jazz with just a taste of classical, their music hooks a wider listening audience than the industry standard hard-core beats and samples of durty rap, without watering down the message: these musicians don't like the corruption they see happening in the world today, and are dead serious about changing it in a positive way through their music.

The group members bring an intelligence and ethos not often found in the genre. Most of them are multi-cultural "service brats," and grew up with the eye-opening experience of living abroad as well as the US. This is the locus for these young men. San Antonio has a large military presence, and many service families pass through or retire there, so it has by default become a hip-hop hub. This living education brings an immediacy and relevancy to their lyrics that you won't find in music from the streets of L.A. or Brooklyn Heights, as real as those experiences are. What they have to say transcends the next girlfriend, the next line, the next record--their words speak to a larger truth that we all need to hear.

So check 'em out. Catch their next show and definitely listen to their stuff.


Older bloggers and the younger techies who love them

In the next few days you'll see the list of links in the sidebar grow as I add URLs to the blogs of some wonderful folks I met at SXSWi or that I work with here at the uni. These gifted individuals were most gracious, supportive, and generous with information and were great ambassadors for the conference, and the field of tech in general. And when I spoke up for us silverbacks in one session that in my perception was heading alarmingly south, I was assured by presenters and many attendees that they greatly respected and did not discount their elders' life experiences and capacity to learn new tricks, and moreover, had even set up blogs for their mamas so they could correspond with abandon. My faith was restored.

So here's a shout out to Ms. Camahort, Eric Rice, Glenda Sims, Liz Henry, and all you other younger techies who are hip enough to realize that we were the ones who started it, after all--you guys just make it shiny and easy to use ;) (Just throwing out a little lightweight shit to see who swims in it, as my ex used to say...) Makes me smile that you love your mamas enough to make sure we can jam to our heart's content, with heaping servings of fireworks on the side!

'cause at the end of the day, no matter what our birthday, it's all about communicating, right?


Happy Birthday, Sweetie!

Today is my baby's birthday. My daughter was born 30 years ago at this moment (Pacific Coast Time) after a 48 hour labor that began on Memorial Day, 1976. Still makes me smile to think about it. She was born at home, with a midwife and her daddy in attendance, along with our best friends. I would not have had it any other way. She popped out with a 10 Apgar rating, and proceeded to squirm her way up my belly to my breast with absolutely no assistance from anyone, least of all me--said attendants were busy with the cord and placenta, and I was totally drained. And that focus has been her trademark ever since.

So having no money, my gift to her is to include some poems I've written about her over the years, and this weekend I will try to do justice to writing up the story of her birthing, which was a journey of self-discovery and infinite love, and not a
small education in midwifery.

Here's to Ms. E, the greatest gift a mother could ever receive.

This one is actually about her birth...

She’s On Her Way!

I sensed your coming before you began your journey
A quiet chime in the universe, I can’t remember exactly when,
Announced your essence long before you entered the world

Then a gargantuan effort just to separate you from my body
Two full days of dialogue
Before you slithered out in a totally unexpected configuration
Squirmed up my belly to my breast
And proclaimed your arrival

The midwife said you had FOUR cowlicks
Even one would have been a spot-on sign of assertiveness
I just smiled

So I knew before I even knew you what you would be
Except that you turned out to be so much, much more

As for myself, I now reckon that the two days of birthing
Was simply the Cherokee ritual for separating mother from child
To begin the circle of life

This one was while she was still in college, I was destitute, and never knew when I'd get to see her again from one visit to the next. She had spent a winter term in Zimbabwe, and written some profound things and taken some pretty amazing photos, which she has on her wall right now...

World Traveler I

Jet-stained backpack slung over one shoulder,
Dear head full of wisdom and lush long hair
She’s home for a while.

Gazing into those far-seeing golden eyes, I see what she sees
stories writings drawings photographs dance in their depths
Living out how she finds the world.

She brings a poem about a woman in Africa,
In such vivid, profound words that she appears as real before us.
A subtle stone elephant
An exquisite lizard bowl
Visionary child, eye on the world, the world in her eye

Said backpack organized to perfection
Passport around her waist
Just the basics, ma’am

Wise in the way of respecting each culture
Always recognized as goddess, drawn in by a family, included in their lives,
art, history, customs, music, dance
An authentic soul
A compassionate collaboration

For a while, too short, we share our lives
Lavishing love and attention and talk

Then the bittersweet drive to the airport,
always reluctant to part
Each visit is perfect, barely enough to keep me going until the next
Inevitably, I watch her sweet head bob down the concourse,
wait til the plane taxis for take off,
rush to my car with eyes glued to the plane, strain til I can no longer see it.

Have a good cry til there's nothing left but to go home.

I wrote this the day she left Australia to go back to the states to begin college. Scary stuff, being a half a world away from your only child when they're going through such a milestone in their life...

Saying Goodbye to E

In the black hours of this day’s morning
You flew into the sky to begin your journey
As a young woman in the world
Leaving two grieving parents behind to face the dawning of the day
Still holding on to you with all their strength,
hugging a space the shape of your dear body.
Heartlines trailing through the vast oceans of space, through the crack on the edge of time
Lost to sight, but firmly attached to a place deeper than sight

Last night I anointed your beautiful, confident young woman’s forehead
With oil that you had chosen to symbolize the end of your initiation into the universe
For days I reviewed the catalog of necessary wisdom that a mother must impart
To keep her daughter safe and smart, happy and healthy through all life’s joys and pains
I asked the ritual question: What is there that you feel you do not yet know
That I might be able to impart as one last gift of knowledge—
A seal to the years that we have embraced together with our bodies, hearts and souls
Set to mark you as blessed and inviolate—
A woman
to be sung & cherished,
to listen to for her wisdom and clear-sightedness and compassion,
to stir what is good and kind and fiercely loving and gentle in all who behold her
to light in her a beacon for others to draw near for shelter and grow from your mutual nurturing
to touch young and old with peace, comfort, healing and good humor

Your answer was a gift in return, sweet words telling me what you felt I’d given you,
your final acknowledgement that the rite was well and truly done
Only thus was I able to let you go with love and the sense of completion of perhaps my
Life’s most important work
And with the certainty that I am also blessed to be part of the miracle of you
And will continue to be so for all of eternity

Happy Birthday, sweetie, I've got lots more to tell you!

Yo Mama


Salute to women bloggers

Tip of the hat to BlogHer--

Listening to some of my favorite singers on KUT on this Memorial Day, Kerrville Folk Festival happening just west of here, a deep obeisance to the women who blog... Ruthie Foster, Iris Dement, Norah Jones, how lucky we are to have so many wonderful voices.

21st Century media literacy

There's an excellent feature on the UT Austin Web page about new media and learning.

Written by someone whose work I greatly admire, it's a thoughtful look at how media impacts our educational system, and some ways we can parlay that to advance learning. Not that I believe we have to make education entertainment, I think we need as a nation to use media to stimulate and compel young (or old) minds to curiosity. You can lead a horse to water...

I don't think for one second that kids don't learn because they don't want to, they're incapable, or they necessarily feel "entitled" (the new buzzword around campus), I think that we as adults and educators have failed to keep learning and knowledge relevant in a changing socio/political context.

Let's call it as it is: the US as a whole doesn't value education or learning, or it would put its money and resources where its campaign promises are. What work does go on is perpetually short-changed, a constant struggle to keep the collective mind of the country open and teachers' families fed.


Playa del Carmen, Yucatan

The new Mexican Riviera. Port of call for those who would have gone to Cozumel or Cancun. Both of which were wiped out in last season's hurricanes. Even at that, Playa del Carmen was battered with 125 mph winds for 36 hours, as the storm progressed by only inches an hour. In December of '05, there were still wide-spread signs of the disaster.

P del C is relatively undiscovered. Not as sexy as the jet-setting double C's, it's a favorite with the Nationals, not as many gringo turistas. This was my first cruise, a curious affair, interesting experience, most especially for the international crew, working to make money to send home to Romania, Lithuania, Thailand, enduring the demands of sometimes surly travelers with superhuman aplomb, one service person for every two travelers. Many of the younger crew were homesick, not having seen their family for eight to twelve months.

Could have stood more time in country, it took a couple of hours for the Spanish to begin to flow automatically again to the point that I could banter with the shop keepers and ensure they knew I was on their side, just a poor traveler who happened to luck into a free trip courtesy the kindness of a friend. Watched a bullfight on TV from the Distrito, had some great shrimp tacos and learned about the real estate boom going on now that C and C were swept away. Can still buy beach-front lots for a song.

High Sierra Honeymoon

1974, a scorching hot, blinding day in North Dallas. As we approach the front door of a solidly upper-middle-class, two-story house of pale, pink brick, sotto voce…"Don't tell mama you were married before. She hates divorced women." I came to dread that subtle detour on the approach to a party, a counseling session, a manipulative encounter--a last-second diabolical coaching. It was sure to mean "don't reveal this secret; it will make me look like a jerk"

May 26 or May 27? It became a running family joke--I could never remember the exact morning we crawled out of mismatched sleeping bags, consumed a hasty breakfast of porridge, and you said, "Today’s the day." A little reluctantly, it sounded, but for some mysterious reason, you were adamant about doing it. Reeking of sulfur from a high sierra hot springs in a cow pasture in the middle of nowhere, 200 feet from a small, crystal clear stream running frigid with snow melt, we broke camp and drove the Scout down from the mountains into Carson City in search of a justice of the peace.

The trip began as just another one of our customary hot spring adventures. Over a long Memorial Day weekend, we ventured further than usual from our home on the coast north of San Francisco at the tip of Marin County. The margins of my "Great Hot Springs of the West" were satisfactorily filling with annotations, accompanied by copious field notes penciled on a corresponding Forest Service map, much like a birder’s prized life list. Some of the springs had dried up, some had migrated, and others had been “improved.” Some were so scalding hot that only the brilliant red and orange heat-adapted algae could survive at the source--you had to splash up and down the crick connecting to the snow runoff to find a bearably attenuated spot to soak.

Best of all, natural springs exist in the most breathtaking, tasty locations--vast, empty deserts, with infinite skies that make your eyes ache. Old logging roads intimately caressing the shoulders and hips of California coastal mountains, tracing the swell of a switchback to reveal the sight of geysers spewing from crevices up and down the coastline, the agitated ghosts of wives and sweethearts gazing out over the treacherous deep, searching for their loved ones in herring boats lost to ancient storms. Corrugated tin shacks slumped at the heads of silver mines abandoned in magnificent desolation, coyotes barking in the cold, crisp air, stars beyond counting sparkling in tremendous vaults of inky darkness.

Nevada was convenient, no blood test, no waiting. This particular day, we found our rabbity bureaucrat, complete with matching wife and sister-in-law as witnesses, in the flats east of Tahoe, just south of Reno. We stank of Hades, our silver rings oxidized to a sickly yellow-black patina, mute prophecy of our troubled future.

I, nonchalant, a mounting suspicion that there might possibly be a script somewhere that I would never be allowed to read, and which would, at any rate, be constantly rewritten, “You know, it’s not the official paper that counts, it’s the intent and the commitment, what’s truly in our hearts. I really don’t care about the license.”

“Yeah, yeah, sure. You know I love you. We’re living together, aren’t we? It just makes it easier to deal with mama if we’re married.” The deed was done, papers signed, tarnished homemade rings removed and replaced in minutes.

We make a quick stop at the grocery store to replenish supplies, then continue south to an oddly upscale, sanitized Forest Service cool spring, cemented into a concrete box, brimming with families escaping the desert heat. A deeply bronzed, longhaired, bearded forest ranger in cargo shorts slouches on the lifeguard tower, his gaze that of a man accustomed to months of solitude searching great swaths of alpine forest rather than myopically sweeping a pool for floaters.

A suffocating sense of alarm sends me off to find a quiet corner beneath a shed, alone, sitting under a pipe that draws the spring water up to fill the crypt-like natatorium. I won’t find the reason behind the paranoia, won’t feel safe, for years. It takes a long time to venture from the womb-like water.

The next day, we drive back to our two by two cliff-clinging shanty, blasted by the wild, unforgiving Pacific. Nothing will be the same. The rules change abruptly and without warning, when I least expect it. The easygoing give and take of our relationship morphs into a stomach-wrenching realization that our life together is tragically flawed.

Unknowing, I sacrifice a vital part of myself to some mysterious disease, until I relinquish all but a tiny shred of my soul. Incessant flight from danger finds me, decades later, half way around the world on the opposite side of the Pacific, and back again. Our wedding rings clamor, Look at us, look at us! I am too blind to hear.

Sydney, Australia, 1996. Faces flushed from a stormy ferry ride, we walk up the path to our CEO's exclusive North Sydney harbor-front home adjacent to the Lieutenant Governor’s estate. Fresh from a dress rehearsal at the Sydney Opera House, voice a tiny bit hoarse, I’m wearing--at his insistence especially for the party--a large, stunning scallop shell, fossilized in opal, set in a gold bezel on a fine gold chain. The final unholy rites are spoken, sotto voce…”Don’t tell them I bought that necklace for mama…”

I know the year was 1975. I can’t remember if it was May 26 or May 27…it could have been the 28th. It doesn’t matter now--I finally made it back.

Life is too busy to write

except as necessary to make a living putting up Web articles and editing stuff. My daughter came to Austin on business end of March, staying with me part time, partly in a hotel to be closer to work. A week later, we flew separately to Amsterdam, where we celebrated my 60th and her 30th birthdays, in between the two actual dates. The trip was fantastic from beginning to end. The people, food, art, dogs, cats, houseboats, canals, poldors, bicycles, opera, cafes, everything was marvelous. E put us up at the Amstel Hotel International, a 5 star beaut that catered to our every whim. Within 24 hours, all the staff knew why we were there, and gave us extra special service--comped a massage, a 20 yr. old jiniver, l'accutaine toiletries for everyone, a pound of coffee to take home, a monogrammed umbrella to take to the countryside to see the windmills...

400? Moi? was the theme for Rembrandt's 400th birthday. A comparative exhibit of his work with Caravaggio. The Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum were unbelievable. The Dutch do revere their painters. They stand enraptured for hours in groups, the love palpable as they drink the paintings in with their eyes. Understandably so. I did the same, but sat where I could. The impasto was so rich that you could swear that the subjects were actually wearing jewelry. The still lifes were so realistic that you impulsively reached out to pick up a goblet, an oyster.

Everyone, young and old, rides bicycles. The week I returned I heard a C&W song about Amsterdam, with bikes featured prominently in the lyrics. Yepper...not the 10 speed ones, either, plain old fashioned pedal ones. With trailers, baskets, rear seats, baby carriers, stickers, beat-up, new, every color imaginable. We saw one completely covered in banana stickers.

Not too long after, I lost my supervisor and good friend at work. She was an editor par extraordinaire, worked in the publishing business for many years. She will be sorely missed. A wonderful intellectual person who shared my love of literature. Taught me the art of writing snappy headlines.

So now our information and Web design team is slightly adrift, dealing with the sadness and loss of a friend and colleague.

It's been a bad two weeks for losing people. Daughter's boyfriend's father passed away four days later, then our admin person's mother the next day. I can only practice and pass along the lessons I've learned from many losses along the way: never let an opportunity go by to tell someone how much you love and / or appreciate them--you may not get another chance. Don't sweat the small stuff--half the stuff that stresses you out is not important--let it go and concentrate on what is most important to you, what makes you feel good or what you can do to make someone else feel good.
Photo: Town Hall, Edam, The Netherlands


Great presenter series at UT on Gender and IT. Yesterday was about Age and IT. It bothers me a bit that for study purposes the Baby Boomer Age is defined as 1946 through 1964. As far as experience and events go, that time period actually encompasses two distinct generations. Issues that I'm facing RIGHT NOW aren't even on the radar for 40 year olds yet. Not to mention values, patterns, wisdom, reality, etc.

The talk was good, but left me wanting much more. Focused on Boomers caught up in wanting to recapture (buy) their youth. So much money, resources, value put into being, or at least looking young. But then there's a huge drop-off. Where do you go when you hit 60? According to the marketers, you cease to exist. Sounds like a horror/sci-fi movie flick plot to me.

Looking foward to what older bloggers have to say about this at SXSWi.

March 2, 2006

Typical INFP, never completing a project. House full of projects. House full, period. Leaving for Amsterdam in about a month. Lots to do in between. South by Southwest Interactive for 5 days, actual work. Learn more about information and Web design.

AVAE concert on Friday, March 24. Fabulous 21st century music. Tuneful songs, even with voicings a 1/2 step apart. Morten Lauridsen, one of the best composers of any time.