September 30, 2005

More sun on the rise

It must be something about the autumn mornings. The sky has so often been all dressed up when the sun rises:


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Posted by leya at 08:40 PM

September 29, 2005

Yellow morning

The sunrise this morning was so beautiful.


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Posted by leya at 12:05 PM

September 27, 2005

Mending

On my feet again (more or less). Hope my strength holds out. Definitely would prefer a few more days of rest. But part-time teaching doesn�t allow for sick days (or vacation pay or a dental plan). A good, rewarding job nevertheless.

Posted by leya at 08:48 AM

About books

I found myself in the Public Library one day last week. It is across the street from my Tango class and I had (�time to kill�? what a strange expression; why would I want to kill time. I want time on my side of the fence; or was it �time on my hands�? Would it weigh a lot, would I still be able to paint and play the piano with the weight of time on my hands? So, I had) enough time before dance started to check it out. I don't think I have ever taken a book out here in Halifax. Rarely (if ever) went to the library in New York. I did get a card a year ago when the branch opened near here. It was always so overwhelming to me, the idea that I would have to get a book back at a certain date�and so much to choose from. But I have been reading constantly lately, so I was brave this time. The book I signed out was by Sue Miller, Lost in the Forest. It is an extraordinary, intensely felt, intimate, exquisitely written domestic drama about loss, love and transformation; I finished it in two days. Next time I go into the library I will bring the list given to me by some literature professor friends.

I often have felt just as overwhelmed in bookstores. Sometimes even a major panic attack, rarely calm enough to buy a book. One of the best parts of my marriage was that he would read the reviews, buy the books, and I would read them. It saved me having to spend time in the stores, from the panic I usually felt there.

Lately though I�ve spent some pleasant hours in bookstores with Aaron and Jessica and also with Tamar, Dan and Damian. They�ve helped reduce my fears. We mill around, browse, and talk about various books, what we have read, want to read. Mostly, when I want a book, I browse the second hand bookstores. I like the feel of books that have been read before. And my friend in Rhode Island sends me a large box of books he�s read a couple of times a year. A real treat. I also have friends closer to home, here in Halifax, who pass books around. Right now I have placed a large number of books on my friend Inge�s shelves. There are several of us doing this, poking around in each other�s literary lives. Our own private library. But I keep my long-time favorites, my close friends, at home on my own shelves so that I can lend them out and know where they went.

Posted by leya at 07:36 AM

September 26, 2005

Sick

I�ve been sick. Sick enough that I only turned the computer on to contact my amazing (and extremely helpful) homeopathic doctor in New York City (who also officates weddings and loves dogs). Every system in my body has been effected over the past few days. I used up two full boxes of Kleenex and, when I wasn�t blowing my nose, slept for a couple of days. Fortunately it�s been the weekend and I should be up and running for school tomorrow.

Posted by leya at 09:05 AM

September 22, 2005

Crossing the great divide

It�s been fascinating for me to read Tamar�s account of their travels across country. I made the (more or less) same trip two times (in the summer before air conditioning was common in cars): once with my cousins (one of whom Tamar & Co. visited in Minneapolis on her trip; and I went to the Science Museum with the same cousins when they lived in Chicago when we were young) when I was sixteen, the next time (when I was, maybe, twenty-one) with my parents and sister. What I remember most of the first trip was traveling through New Mexico and seeing the strange (to me) landscape of dry red uprisings, the mesas and plateaus. And also the Beaver Dam in Colorado. I also remember enjoying the company of my cousins, looking for and following the alphabet on road signs and eating chocolate covered donuts for breakfast in the desert.

That summer, when I was about sixteen, I stayed with my cousin Deedee in Van Nuys. We were about the same age, both played the piano, and both loved my uncle (my father�s brother) very much. He had died in January, a young, handsome, loving and lonely man of thirty-seven. It was a deep loss for me. It colored my life for many years. Deedee and I spent the summer playing gin rummy often. She was excellent at math and almost always could figure out what cards I had in my hand by what I picked up and what I discarded. I was amazed that she could do this. But I played by intuition, sensing what might happen, and usually won. And this totally confused and irritated her.

On the return trip, after my LA cousin�s wedding several years later, I remember visiting San Francisco with my parents and sister, eating fish soup at a communal table in some restaurant (my mother complaining, as usual, about the food, as she could always, really, do it better) and the steep hills. I don�t remember much more, other than that I was probably brooding most of the time and probably not happy to be with my family.

And now I am so happy to have my family, both Aaron and Tamar, on the East Coast, almost in the same time zone, just a hop away, and we plan to all be together for the winter holiday!

Posted by leya at 10:44 AM

September 19, 2005

About ideas and such

One of the (many) repeat programs I�ve been listening to on (the now semi-crippled) CBC was one about �cuddling� with Shelagh Rogers. No, not cuddling with her, but with her moderating a discussion. And yes, you can imagine she would be a big cuddler. But the upshot of the discussion was basically that (most) women are much more comfortable cuddling with each other, even sitting face to face, legs up, on a couch with feet in each other�s laps, than men would be. And this was very obvious to me at a dinner party I went to this week. Hugs and kisses all around with the women. We even ended up sitting in the hostess� washroom (bathroom, lavatory, toilette depending on what country you are in) talking. I don�t remember how we ended up there, but it was a pleasant, large room and we congregated and chatted as if it was just another Nova Scotia Kitchen Party, but not in the kitchen.

One of the guests at this party asked me how to start an abstract painting when faced with a blank canvas. It was to be his first. He didn�t know if it would be better to start with a concept or just paint what he was feeling. Of course, I told him not to be concerned about a concept. Some people work better that way, but if it wasn�t natural to him, not to impose one where it didn�t want to be.

I�ve never, personally, been attracted to working with concepts. But when I see people�s work that embodies sociological ideas, I am very moved, feel challenged, admiring, yet still, know that I cannot do that with my work. Definitely I want my paintings to transcend the very personal, intimate beginnings, the personal internal conversations that generate the first marks, but if they stay there, it would be disappointing. A good piece of artwork transcends the personal, reaches beyond what we think and know.

I suppose that is why Susan Feindel�s work was so fascinating. I went to hear her talk last week about her work that is now in an exhibit entitled Scan at Dalhousie Art Gallery (until October 2). The exhibit, which explores the marine environment, includes paintings, videos, bookworks and mixed-media installations. The work examines the fragile structures off the Scotian Shelf and the impact of human presence there, including the severe tracking marks left by trollers, these marks becoming strong imagery in her paintings. As well, she includes actual soil from the places of her investigations. The curator, Susan Gibson Garvey comments �how the sensuous and tactile nature of the work itself acts as a counterpart to its clinical and scientific sources, creating a poetic tension between what is known, what is sensed, and what is impossible to know.�

Susan Feindel and I had exhibited together (along with Wayne Boucher) at the Agnes Bugera Gallery in Edmonton last March. Her work in that exhibit was abstracted landscape. Knowing the background of her marks and color choices does help see the message, yet the emotional impact was evident even then, before I knew the history of her work. And that is what makes good art.

Posted by leya at 09:54 AM

September 12, 2005

The door to summer is slowly closing

The nights are cooling off and there is a slight chill behind the warm sun. It feels like only a few days left when the water will be warm enough for a swim. Already there are a scattering of red leaves on the maple trees. We were lucky this year with two months of good summer weather. Last year it was less than a week. Just rain and cold.

Some memories of summer:


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Posted by leya at 10:53 AM

September 07, 2005

It's that time of year again

School started today. My first class. The second one starts next Tuesday. This was Intro Figure Drawing. It is a large class, twenty-two students, very crowded with easels and drawing supplies. But everyone was very attentive, listened and worked hard. So far, very good.

I think I had forgotten what it was like to teach. I came home exhausted. I have had two months away from school. Just painting and playing. It�s been wonderful and the weather has been supurb. A real summer. And it was still very warm today.

When I came home, I had a big piece of watermelon, checked for messages and then my friend Molly came over to talk about art. I showed her my paintings and we discussed what worked and what needed help. It was very fruitful for both of us. Then we jumped in the lake. So very refreshing

Posted by leya at 07:09 PM

September 06, 2005

Take me out to the ball game

I keep thinking about the movie we saw last week, Wedding Crashers: would I want life to be as easy as a romantic comedy? Not on your life! Its the grit and grind that makes our moral fiber. But we are led to believe that the fantasy can be real. After visiting a rug-hooking supply store on the north shore of PEI, my friend Valerie and I went for a walk along the boardwalk of the local beach. Shortly into our walk we saw a large van pull up and unload one after another handsome manten in all. They grouped themselves together along the hillside and began taking photos. As we approached they asked us to take their picture so they could all be included. I said I would if I could take one with my camera as well. They were a group of friends visiting from Germany, who play tennis together in tournaments, and usually win.


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It was a highlight of the day. And I could continue to write a romantic comedy from there, but I wont. We just walked away with pleasant memories and a fun photo!

I am not actually much of a tennis player. Never was, although my dad and sister played. I like activitydancing, swimming, walking, but have limited desire for team sports. While on PEI, along with the usual beach sports, Valerie and I went for a game of miniature golf. I made two hole-in-ones. I think it is a testament to my artistic training that I am good at that kind of gamewith all the hand-eye training I have had. Ive also won at billiards.

I recently finished reading an interesting memoir by Doris Kearns Goodwin titled Wait Till Next Year. Next year is THE YEAR the Dodgers will win the World Series Pennant. Her interest in baseball games began as a young girl, four years old. She, her family and friends followed the games through the many years of the Brooklyn Dodgers almost winning against the NY Giants.

Goodwin also tells of the local and world events happening at that time. she being just a few years younger than me, it was fascinating to connect again to the times before television, when radio was King, when people gathered around the radio and could see in their minds the activities portrayed. I remember all play stopping at 4 pm for the children in the neighborhood (it was Richmond, Virginia for me at that time) to go in and listen to our fifteen minute programs: The Lone Ranger, The Green Hornet, etc. And mothers ironing, as Goodwins mother did, to the noon hour soaps.

I saw my first television when I was about nine years old. It was at a friends house. We didnt have one until I was about twelve or thirteen. It was all black and white then, no such thing as color. (I still love black and white movies.) At that time, the shows started at 7 pm and went on until 10 pm. We would gather around the set, watching I Love Lucy and The Ed Sullivan Show. Then the TV screen would show its familiar pattern and go blank until the next evening. It was a major family event, watching television. But I still had my radio programs and my 45 rpm record changer.

When I was in the sixth grade and one of the major World Series Games was playing, one of those famous competitions between the two New York teams, school stopped and we listened on the radio every afternoon. I was never, on my own, interested, but could easily get caught up in the enthusiasm generated by the radio announcer and the other children. We even had some betting going on (outside of class, of course). I dont think I really cared who won, was just glad to have the regular school day interrupted.

I was not much of a baseball player. When we moved back to Bethesda after The War, my next door neighbors had a playgound in their backyard, with a tree-house, sandbox, and a flat space to play basketball, badminton or baseball. We had the swing set and monkey-bars. Often the games spilled out onto the street but there was little traffic on that road. As we got older the games changed to monopoly, then gin rummy and poker. But I think my favorite game was lying in the hammock in the summer with lemonade and a good book. Although I still love badminton, ping-pong, swimming and other gentler sports that I enjoyed when I was young, I was never a big game player. Once I caught a fly ball with my bare hands flat open, astonishing all the boys (and me, I must say) who were playing that game. In fact, they were so annoyed, they made sure I struck out when my turn came at bat. It was a lively suburban neighborhood, but not nearly as active as the one on Long Island described by Goodwin. But the book brought up a lot of memories for me. And a reminder of how much things have changed.

Posted by leya at 07:29 PM

September 05, 2005

Peaceful Prince Edward Island

On Wednesday morning I took the ferry from Caribou, Nova Scotia to Wood Islands, PEI. There was a light rain that day, made the driving easier for me. No sun beating through my car windows.


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That afternoon I went first for a walk along the beach:


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and then to a lovely old hotel (that had once been a residence) for high tea with my friends:


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and a walk along the beach at sunset:


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Thursday it rained hard. The tail of Katrina. Its been hard for me to watch the news. Mostly I read about it. It is so very frightening and painful. My heart goes out to the people who have lost so much.

Because of the rain, we thought about going to see Anne of Green Gables but it wasnt playing that day, so we went to a movie. Wedding Crashers. It was fun, had some memorable scenes, but definitely fantasy-land, and classical Hollywood comedy: boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love (instantly), then boy and girl meet obstacles, then boy and girl overcome obstacles and everything turns out rosyand funand they live happily ever after, completely oblivious to the cares of the world, which have been so traumatic lately.

The next day was sunny. First to the beach. Later in the afternoon we explored the countryside, stopping in at some craft stores and various beaches.


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Then to the Prince Edward Island Preserve Company to sample their amazing selection of preserves, check out their gardens and have a fine dinner at their restaurant.


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In the evening I took a walk along the beach with my friends. At dusk, friendly red fox are often seen along the shore. At this point, the one we saw was very tame, eagerly foraging amonst the debris washed up onto the beach from the storm the day before.


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PEI is very different from Nova Scotia. Much flatter with low rolling hills, fewer trees. Most of the trees were cut down at the beginning of the 20th century to make the tall ships. Fishing and potatoes are now their main industries.

Ive heard people say PEI is feminine because of its gentle landscape. I guess that makes Nova Scotia masculine, with its rugged, unpredictable terrain-- dinosaur country. A different kind of peaceful.

Posted by leya at 04:31 PM | Comments (3)