Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Giving Bush the Shoe

After seeing Bush beaned by a loafer recently, (BTW, where was the Secret Service in all this?) I was intrigued by the Iraqi concept of pelting someone with shoes to express disdain. I knew it was a grave insult to show someone the sole of your foot but did not realize the stigma was also attached to shoes off the foot. I have some shoes that have seen much better days and was preparing to drop them off at Goodwill but now I am thinking that since I can't actually throw them at Bush, I will just send them to the White House- a proxy throw as it were.

If I lived in the Washington DC area, I would consider just leaving them by the fence- throwing them onto the grounds would probably result in arrest, but I don't so I will throw them by mail.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

No White Christmas

I am in the middle of preparations for my annual holiday party, this year combined with an apartment-warming. I am still not recovered financially so my own food and beverage contributions to the pot-luck celebration will be modest. I can only trust that my guests step up to the plate, as it were; but whatever happens it will be fine.

That is what I keep telling myself. My usual holiday trappings are missing this year- no cheerfully burning fireplace, the dining room is lit by the most horrible fluorescent overheads (#1 reason why straight guys should never be allowed to design and interior,) and worst of all- I cannot watch "White Christmas" while I decorate my tree. I left behind the large TV I used to have for the smaller one I had used in my old bedroom, in order to save space. I was all ready to hook up the DVD player and watch my all-time favorite holiday movie but then discovered that the TV has no DVD connectors on it. Ah rats!

I am struggling to hold onto some semblance of holiday spirit- right now I just see what I lack- a real sense of privacy, a connection to the outdoors- I used to be able to fill my home with greenery from my trees, a fireplace, a sense of security- I feel as if this will all be taken away from me any moment now, even a connection to my Higher Power- I haven't been able to meditate for a while, a connection with my family. I also know that some of these are things I cannot change so I ask for serenity to accept them and move on. Some of these, I can change so I ask for courage to take that step on my own behalf. And lastly I ask for wisdom this holiday season to be able to discern the difference between what I can and cannot change so that I can be part of the goodness that is around me, even if it is not in the form that in my pride and self-regard I want it to be.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Last evening on the Science Channel, there was a program about people who, after having had a brain anurysem or being struck by lightning, develop overriding compulsions. In the case of one of them, it was compulsive art-making. The man, formerly a chiropractor with no artistic inclinations, now has a compulsive urge to draw. Oh great, I thought, art-making is a result of brain damage... maybe someone dropped me on my head when I was an infant.

I was listening to the television while I sewed in the next room but when the program featured a display of the works of this man along with another fellow similarly afflicted I had to see what kind of art they were doing. I was very disappointed- and a bit relieved I must confess- to see that their works, while prolific, were cliche-ridden, overworked, and uninspired. The brain damage had given them the irresistible urge to draw but had not gifted them with any real talent or discernment. They were compelled to make marks but the marks were not worth keeping.

Another subject of the program had developed a sudden musical compulsion after being struck by lightning but instead of just pounding away on the piano and calling it music, he actually took lessons to channel his new compulsion. He actually became a musician. It took him 15 years to get the music that was playing in his brain, urging him onward, onto paper; while the art-compulsives just spewed onto paper and called it art. That the musician's work may have been equally cliche-ridden when it was finally finished is for others to decide, I do not have a particularly discerning ear; but at least he saw that he needed to train his new gift.

Why the relief? Well, for me art making is both a joy and a bit of torture. I work my way into corners and then have to work my way out of them again. Sometimes I can't solve the problem and have to put the piece aside, sometimes the idea has to percolate on the back-burner of my brain for quite a while. It is work, not spewing. And sometimes I feel like I am surrounded by spewers. There are more than a few talented artists in this area but too often I go to a local salon show and am dismayed by the extremely poor quality of what some people here consider art. Perhaps they suffer the same compulsion as the fellows above and also lack the discernment and discipline to make real art. Even more distressing but inevitable, some of the spewers are also very accomplished promoters and manage to make decent livings. Ah well, back to work.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Today I was out running errands and while crossing east to west over the Hudson River I saw the most wonderful sight. The day has been preternaturally warm and very, very rainy. On my way over the bridge the first time, the roadway leading to the bridge was shrouded in fog. On the return trip I was treated to the sight of the river itself blanketed in the fog with remnants of the clouds still flowing down the steep, high banks. There was a barge making its way up the estuary (the Hudson is not, in fact, a river but a tidal estuary,) it was plowing through the fog leaving a swirling wake. It was quite magical. I wished I could stop my car and get out to watch the sight from the railing but that was impossible so I went on hoping to engrave the image on my memory.

That sight, along with many many others are why I treasure living here in the Hudson Valley, despite the many challenges. The winters can be harsh, full of extremes, unnaturally warm one day, frigid the next. The summers can be brutally humid and that climate promotes many fungi and blights, including what we call the "Husdon Valley Scunge" a persistent, low level chest congestion and cough. Southern Atlantic storms funnel up the river gorge and sometimes meet storms sweeping in across the Great Lakes from the west to dramatic effect. The area is infested with white-tail deer, the concentrations roughly 4 times the carrying capacity of the land; purple loosestrife, japanese knotweed, japanese barberry, tartarian honeysuckle, garlic mustard, mile-a-minute vine and multi-flora rose are all rampaging through our ecosystem like the barbarian invaders they are. I don't think most residents of the area would know a native landscape if they saw one, and it is very unlikely they would ever see one, the ecosystem is so depauperate. Oh, I am ranting... I need to remember the beautiful fog on the water and be grateful for the opportunity to see it.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Horse Hockey

For the first time in the 15 years I have lived in this area, I fulfilled my small-towner's obligation to be a curmudgeon and wrote a cranky letter to the editor of the local paper. The project in question is called: "Hors'n Around Saugerties," HITS is a summer horse camp for the very rich that has made its home in Saugerties, Saugerties is located on the western shore of the Hudson River, 100 miles north of NYC, the rest is obvious. Herewith is my rant:

To the Editor:

The upcoming quadricentennial of Henry Hudson's historic voyage up the Hudson is being celebrated by Saugerties with a display of painted fiberglass carousel horses. A call has gone out to local artists to donate their talent and time to this display. With great regret I have decided to not participate in this event despite my great fondness for the village and town. Up until recently I had resided for 15 years in the Township. During that time I participated in the Saugerties Artists Studio Tour, the Little Dutch Barn Auction, and painted 4 panels for the mural in the clerk's office. I was happy to learn that no longer living in Saugerties would not be a barrier to participating.

Then I downloaded the specifications. The transfer of copyright agreement was obviously written without any input from or collaboration with someone representing artists. While it is not as horrible as it could have been, it is still a terribly one-sided document that saddles the artists with a tax burden if their work sells for more than the $50 stipend for materials; transfers all rights to the original piece and all derivative rights to the Chamber; and finally transfers all rights to even the preparatory materials to the Chamber. There are many ways this agreement could have been made fairer to artists without harming the Chamber or the Village or Town. The excuse that the boilerplate was lifted wholesale from the Catskill display? As mothers through the ages have replied: "if your friends all jumped off a cliff would you do it too?"

Then there is the total lack of any connection between carousel horses and Henry Hudson, the Half Moon or the Hudson River itself. The reason why it is carousel horses: HITS has thrown its weight around to get something to promote itself at the expense of history. (And shame on you, Senator Schumer for supporting this cowtowing to corporate interests.) We can only be thankful that an arms company is not the economic heavyweight in town, otherwise I assume we'd be asked to decorate M-1 tanks or howitzers; or a pharmaceutical company- imagine gigantic pills on every corner painted with scenes of the Half Moon sailing up the great river...

Besides the egregious disregard for history- the very thing the quadricentennial is supposed to be celebrating- the use of carousel horses hamstrings the artists who do choose to go through with this exercise because they are already covered with raised decorations. It is in fact not a blank canvas, there is no room for an artist's expression.

So, despite my fondness for Saugerties and my desire to be part of the Hudson celebrations, I will not be hors'n around Saugerties; I hope some other, more relevant, fairer and respectful opportunities present themselves.

When the Going Gets Tough...

the tough wash dishes. This evening was both the opening of a small show in the Founders Gallery at the WAAM and its annual year-end awards announcements. I was gratified to be awarded an Honorable Mention for my piece in the show, "Wings." And I have to admit that I had thought I had a really good shot at getting one of the year-end awards. People seemed especially happy to see me at the event so I thought maybe they knew something.

But I was wrong. It is impossible for me to be churlish about the artists who did win, Elin Menzies and Meredith Rosier, they are both very fine artists and one is good friend, but I am still disappointed. So, what did I do to handle my envy (my most besetting-sin,) self-pity and guilt? I came home and washed dishes. I find the simplest domestic acts seem to bleed off all the negative feelings. Perhaps it is improvement in my surroundings, easily achieved; perhaps it is the warm sudsy water; the combination of the contemplative and the insistent presentness of the chores; whatever it is, it works. So I have a clean kitchen and relief that I did not act on my inner-child's temper-tantrum...

One of these days my emotional age will catch up with my chronological age.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


I am about to blow to smithereens any respect you may have had for me- you have been warned.

Its almost 5pm- time to turn off the radio and "All Things Considered" and indulge in my favorite guilty pleasure: NCIS. I am an ACLU-, progressive-, artsy- type gal but I have developed a heavy, heavy crush on Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs and am frankly astounded by it. Tuesday has become a real test for me- Gibbs vs House, both in the same 8pm time-slot (no, I don't have Tivo and do not wish to have it, thank you. I spend too much time in front of the TV as it is...)

Gibbs: strong, intelligent, good with his hands, steady, independent, dependable- very easy on the eyes, the Fisher King; House: a real bad-boy who needs the love of a good woman, insanely intelligent, erratic, needy, neurotic, sets off all the scoundrel alarms.

Oh which to choose.... despite my past faithfulness to House I have thrown myself into the sure, capable arms of Gibbs and plan to stay there. Do I feel guilty? Yes, I tend to be ridiculously faithful to cafes, haircutters, masseusses, etcetc- or maybe I am just prone to rut-trudging; but I just can't help myself.

If there is a good documentary on Nova or the Science Channel I am torn again. 9pm is a real smash-up: "Fringe," "The Mentalist," "The Universe (History Channel)," more Science Channel. So far "The Mentalist" is winning most weeks.

My name is Polly and I am a TV fiend...

Monday, December 1, 2008

Better Late Than Never

A few months and several posts ago, I mentioned an exhibit of The Word Project at Sage College and said I would post pictures- which I have not done. Well, here they are finally:

The two women are chums from my Guild days, Lauri Baram and Susan Matthews. Several old Guild buddies showed up which was very nice.

Okay, cross that one off the list. I also have not posted any new work for a while. So here are those images:

Camelia in Her Cups


Sharp as a Tack

So, there they are, pretty much all caught up.