Phenomenal artist and glass creations

Austin is such an artist's paradise. Well, at least there are many phenomenal artists who live here. Whether they consider it a paradise or not is something they'll have to tell you.

Rejina Johnson is a phenomenal glass artist. She works in other media as well. Please, please visit her Web site to see all the creative things she does with glass--just sand, but fired with the white hot passion of a visionary. Her work touches me way down deep.

I'm looking forward to visiting her studio/compound. I hear she is as phenomenal a woman as she is an artist...

Rejina, I hope you don't mind me uploading your pics. Your work is too good not to be shared.

Okra is good for you...really

Okra is loaded with nutrition, crazy amounts of some, and even has a high factor of anti-inflammatory components. This is boiled, naked okra--not fried in cornmeal, or in a dish with other ingredients.

A researcher has neat photos of the plant, blossom, and fruit. Thanks to Ravi Kochhar for permission to put them on my blog.

All about okra.

Lovely okra photos.

Props from Mother Nature.com

Nutrition facts.


For Fred and Connie--musical legends in their own time

I wrote this for an early blog called The Hob Nob, named for the infamous bohemian cafe across the street from North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas) where all the music and artsy folks hung out. The story was meant to be an introduction for a series of vignettes about what college was like for a group of friends in the early 1960's, but somehow I never got around to the Denton part of the series.

The Hob Nob--A Prequel

Commerce Texas, December 1962. All Senior Honor Band at East Texas State Teachers College--Connie Seidel, Fred Tackett, me, and I was told later, Bill Clinton. The first three would continue on to ETSTC, later ETSU, now TAMU at Commerce, and into the pages of history. Bill... well, he has his own special place. It's a good thing he went into politics--his saxual talents didn't seem to raise a blip in my consciousness. On the other hand, Connie and Fred's musicianship blew...me...away...

On that day, I met a future husband, and two of the very best friends--both fabulous musicians and composers--and truly wonderful people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. We remain close to this day, and I thank whatever wise stars brought us together in that sleepy, backwater, conservative, teacher's college town. A town where, every Saturday morning, they forked hay onto the downtown square for a lazy livestock auction. During our two years at ET, the three of us were inseparable. Literally.

Commerce is the buckle of the Bible Belt and as this was the Pleistocene Era, I was required to live in the dorms. Connie and Fred, however, got to room with two other male music majors off campus. When we weren't in class or rehearsals, I would sneak over to their apartment until curfew, which was 9:00 p.m. school nights, and midnight Friday and Saturday. Grim-faced matrons, charged with protecting the virginity of their young charges against all odds, locked the door at the stroke of 9 or 12, and if you weren't inside, you were invited to the Dean's office the very next morning.

7:30 every morning found us in attendance for the required Music Theory I, II, III and IV classes. We were seated alphabetically, therefore we dominated the back row--Seidel, Snowden, Tackett--the Three Museketeers.

The professor for the ear training part of MT would play long chord progressions, wildly modulating in and out of major, minor, diminished keys, being especially careful to avoid the traditional cycle of fifths. After what seemed like hours, he would come to an abrupt halt, fling his hands up from the keyboard in a grand flourish, and dramatically demand, "WHAT KEY AM I IN?"

By that time, our classmates' eyes would be spinning, holding their heads looking ready to throw up. Connie and Fred would snigger, point to me, and I'd nail it every time. After three semesters of this, the poor prof had begun to cringe when he reached that particular exercise. After we returned from Christmas holidays the spring of '65, he was openly snarling at me, and relocated the three of us as far apart as was possible. Even that couldn't stop us. Somewhere between spring break and finals, he gave up altogether.

We even attended the same non-music Honors classes together--tromping from the Music Building to far-flung reaches of the campus, reconvening at the MB for endless, myriad ensemble rehearsals, jazz jams, lessons, practice room shenanigans, concerts, juries, and mandatory concert attendance to show solidarity for our fellow musicians.

Each fall, from 3:30-5:30 p.m. daily, would find us "guiding right" on the practice field, rain, sleet, triple digit heat, getting that half-time show together. In those days, schools could afford to take the marching band to every game. No flag or rifle corps, no Janet/Justin leave-nothing-to-the-imagination MTV extravaganza, just precision 8-to-5 or 6-5 military marching, heavy on discipline and standard repertoire.

The director would exhort us to snap off our right turns "I want to see white shoes SPARKLE on those yard lines!" We accommodated by muttering "sparkle, sparkle" while pivoting in exact 90 degree boxes. What began as a murmur built to a war chant--"SPARKLE, SPARKLE." We did have one of the best musical organizations in the state, I have to admit.

As much fun as we had, and as excellent as our conservatory-style musical training was, we always felt there was greener grass just over the hill. Over several hills--60 miles to the west, to be exact. Since we were underage, Connie used his prodigious artistic abilities to "rearrange" his driver's license and finagle a marriage license. We walked into the first church we could find in McKinney and convinced the pastor to marry us on the spot, and took that giant 60-mile step to Denton, the North Texas State U Music Department, Library, and the Hob Nob.

From that point on, our lives pretty much exploded...Fred side-stepped to Oklahoma City to finish his degree, work with the monster sax player Joe Laine Davis, and later with practically every musician known to man--Jimmy Webb, Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, et al. Fred currently performs with Little Feat, touring between gigs as a duo with Paul Barrere, Feat's other legendary guitarist. (Check out Fred's son, Miles Om Tackett and his group breakestra--way cool)

Denton, here we come!


Sally Field 1, Rupert Murdoch/Fox TV -100

I caught the tag-end of the Emmys last night, just in time to see Fox TV censure Sally Field's acceptance speech for best dramatic actress in a series. She made the reasonable, heart-felt comment that if mothers ruled the world, there would be no (bleep) war. Fox blipped it, showing a dark audience and stage for a second, then returned to the live show.

Tsk, tsk. For a station that claims to be unbiased, Fox continually shoots itself in the foot with amateurish, blatant censorship. According to FCC guidelines, the word "goddamn" isn't obscene, so there was no need to blip it. Unless, of course, it is part of a sentence that condemns the current administration's belligerent policy of war-mongering.

Today's Huffington Post carried the uncensored video as seen on Canadian TV. Go Sally! And what about '0l Greenspan? Too bad he didn't spill the beans when it might have done some good...of course, it has always been obvious that the real reason Bush is annihilating Iraq is for the oil, we just didn't push back hard enough. Money = power, and I'm short on both, even though that's not an excuse.


Elder visits to medical providers

You may have heard this story on NPR a couple of mornings ago. Evidently, the medical community is waking up to the fact that their services are sometimes inaccessible to disabled and elder patients. Duh.

Do you find you have increasingly daunting hoops to jump through at the doctor's office, or x-ray machines, or just getting to the front door? More than once I've wished for handles to help climb up on a table, or even turn over without falling off! And I'm a young elder.

A woman related how difficult it is to negotiate those tables from a wheelchair. She searched long and hard to find a gyn who could accommodate her needs so that she could ensure a thorough examination. Some tests are not valid unless we are in a prone position--you can't palpate everything in a woman's body that needs a good palping while sitting in a chair.

Interesting subject for compiling a state or national database of elder-friendly doctors and medical services.

Don't get me started with how accessible our university isn't. Having to visit the restroom in another building does not jive with compliance. Neither does having the only restroom with doors wide enough to get a wheelchair through designated for "Women." What are the men supposed to do? Pee in the bushes?

America: the leading edge of medical research, the antiquated, drop-dead caboose of medical care and insurance.


9/11--Brahms, flow, and Csikszentmihalyi

I was determined to not get all twisted up about 9/11 and put myself back in the stew of garbage since then. Singing Brahms was much better for my soul. Putting out heart-felt vibrations with my whole body and intellect. In truth, I've come to think of music and being a musician as a simple conduit for that ethereal life force that connects everything. Music, even 150 year old music, has the power to move and heal us, especially if we (musicians) transcend ego and simply let the spirit of the composer flow through us. I strongly believe that this flow is everywhere, we only have to sample the excitement in and of the air that we breath and sing with.

This is the essence of prana, the Hindu word for the breath/life force. It cannot be created, it cannot be destroyed. It just flows. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has cool things to say about flow. One is most holy when one attains flow.


More photos from the 60's

Fun shoot back in '68 or '69 (now how can I remember?). The lady on the left is no longer with us. The lady on the right was a news photographer with the Dallas Times Herald when it was still publishing. She taught me how to take photographs without a light meter. "Just trust your eyes," she said. And I did. The weird coloring is due to my crudded up scanner, not the actual photo.

The paper furnished her with a great Nikon system, so she loaned me her personal system and we processed film and made prints on the weekends.

We would drive around Texas, looking for interesting places to shoot, and took pics of each other and whatever caught our eye.

This was completely off-the-cuff, we constantly flowed between the back and front of the camera, using whatever was at hand for props, and mostly natural light.

After decades of operating an SLR as an extension of my body, I'm finding it difficult to work with a digital camera. Maybe I can find a used digital SLR that can reveal the world to me like a non-digital SLR. My digital photos have no soul. I can't touch the essence of the person or subject through a digital like I can with an SLR. Early in my adult life I set a goal of capturing the very best portrait of each of my friends that I possibly could. Now where did I put those??

Elder and assistive tech catalog

The International Society of Gerontechnology originates in the UK, but it draws members from around the globe. A recent post to the group included a link to "What's New: Newer Devices and Gadgets for Older and Disabled people." Very cool, the non-PC title notwithstanding. Talking labels, timers, remote control appliances, smart homes, and more. I'll try to find out if these products are available in the US. If not, then the catalog is a great resource for US developers and engineers. Surely we have the equivalent somewhere in America...

Photos of old friends, windows, stuff

Messing around with magnification.
Dusted off the printer/scanner to upload some photos. Friends, some of whom have passed away, others whom I haven't seen in decades. Should anyone who is represented object, just let me know and I'll take them down. They'll probably never see Fried Okra Productions.


Blogging for Peace

If you want to know my true colors, here they are. You can join me in blogging for peace.

And if someone can help me figure out how to upload this image to the right nav bar so that it scales correctly, I'd be forever grateful.

Monkeying around with Survey Monkey

Came across the Blog Reader Project survey on Susie Bright's Journal, a feisty and insightful blog that always makes me 1) think, 2) wonder "How did she get in my head?", and 3) shout "Way to go!" The survey originates from blogads.com. Having worked in marketing and public relations, I'm always curious to take a peek, to see what the group is promoting and how, whether it has any redeeming or useful qualities, and the like. This one focuses on internet behavior and preferences, with a few sidelines thrown in, like preferences in tangibles like cars, spirits, etc.

If you're leery about giving out your e-mail address and blog site along with your preferences, you're probably wiser than I am. If you're still curious, Please take my Blog Reader Project survey.


Elder blogging and new template

The photo has nothing to do with either title subject. I just happen to love the kitties in the blue wheelbarrow. Taken by my daughter on her visit to an old friend in Greece. This was on one of the islands, don't remember which one, but the blue, which islanders use to paint their front doors, reminds me of the blue that New Mexicans paint their front door frames to protect against evil spirits. After a little research, I discovered that the New Mexico tradition was brought from the Mediterranean. No wonder they remind me of each other!

A lot like the ShiShi dogs protect Okinawan households. You see scores of them on every roof and entryway. I guess the American equivalent is a horse shoe over the front door. Of course, you have to remember to nail it in a "u" shape, so the good luck doesn't pour out.

Elder bloggers: should you not want your blog to show up in the blogroll to the right, just let me know and I'll either remove it or move it to the "links" section, whichever you prefer. Linkees: if you are 60+ and want to be included in the Elder Blogger blogroll, drop me a line and I'll be glad to re-position.

Template: I'm experimenting with what's available in Blogspot, which I don't find especially aesthetic. Even though I love the greens of the old template, it's difficult to see, and elder blogging is all about whether we can read the print or not. If anyone has any opinion, please leave a comment. Life is an experiment--I'm flexible.