Saturday, September 18, 2021

Neon Carrot or Medium Cadmium Orange

 Back in "Miss" Nancy's Kindergarten, I was only allowed the 16 Crayola Crayon Box. My parents did not buy my pitch for the box of 24 or, God Forbid, the Holy Grail - the box of 120 Crayons (with the sharpner). Of course, all we really needed was the basic 8,  ROYGBIV (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet). Well included in there was Black and in lieu of Indigo, there was Brown.

With my new hobby of painting, I find myself constantly trying to get the right color, with the right tint and hue. What I mixed for the light edge of that peach colored rose petal, just had too much orange. And, I learned the hard way gray is not just gray. There is "green" gray, "brown" gray,  "light" gray, and "dark" gray just to name a few. So I decided to hedge my bets and invest in a coloring guide entitled "Color Mixing Recipes". 

Reading the first chapter on tone and shades, harmony and psychology, chroma and compliments, I realized I was way over my head. All I wanted was to mix a perfect peach. Looking at the 390 different colors, my mind was blown. Maybe that box of 120 Crayons was more serious than I thought. (And I just wanted it for bragging rights over my friend Frances, who had the box of 64.)

A prime example is "Ochre Red" #314. The recipe of which is 2 parts Naples Yellow, 1 part Burnt Sienna, and 1 speck of Cadmium Blue. A page or 2 earlier I found "Moth" #294 which is 6 parts White, 4 parts Yellow Ochre, and 1 part Ultramarine Blue. And, then there is #135, "Lapis" which is concocted from mixing 3 parts Permanent Blue, 1 part White, and 1 speck of Alizarin Crimson. No wonder I couldn't get the color peach correct, I had no idea it may have been "1 speck"  of Crimson (or whatever) that made the difference. BTW what is a "speck"? And while we're at it, how big is a cubic? But I digress.

Looking through the index, I found there are 5 different "Pansy" colors, 2 "Pelicans", 4 different "Seafoams" (including 1 sub color), and 15 "Oranges." Hearing that Dorothy awoke to find the witch was dead and everything was in color, now has a whole new meaning. (15 Oranges - seriously?)

So my work is cut out for me. Now in trying to come up with a perfect peach, I am bogged down in 3 different Peach recipes (Blossom Pink Peach, Cream Peach, and Pink Peach). Deciding on "Pink Peach" I need to mix 10 parts White and 1 part Cadmium Orange. After a quick Google search I learned Cadmium is a silvery white color, so I assume Cadmium Orange is a silvery white orange?

Perhaps, I should leave the acrylics for the grown ups and invest in that box of 120 Crayons. After all, if I cannot recreate the image I have in my mind on canvas in 120 colors then I seriously need help. However, looking over the chart of the 120 colors included in that box, I notice "Granny Smith Green". If I remember correctly in the 1964 box, that was simply "Light Olive". And "Piggy Pink"? I'll stick with "Cadmium Yellow", "Cerulean Blue" and "Phthalo Red". I may not know what I am talking about, but at least I will sound serious. "Macaroni and Cheese" light orange? Seriously? 

Friday, September 17, 2021

An Order to the Universe

We are now entering the time of purgatory. Note it is only Mid-September. The Dogwoods are still green, with maybe a tinge of pink. The stores of full of crates of orange, white, and green pumpkins. The candy aisles in the stores are over flowing with jumbo size bags of treats. Big box stores sport shelves topped with everything inflated from Dracula and his Coach, a Giant Pumpkin complete with a Ghost (albeit friendly) coming out of the top, Ghouls with Glowing Eyes, and Witches Stirring their Brews. 

We are still 6 weeks away from All Hallow's Eve, and the world seems to be all about orange. Or so it seems. However, just a day or so ago I saw green and red. Say it's not so, not Christmas. Not yet! 

But alas, once again, we can have no peace. If the yule tide season starts showing its face in September, do we accept that Christmas consumes a quarter of the year. 

I'll admit the dirty dishes from Thanksgiving have just been put in the dishwasher when I start pulling out my Christmas Tree stand. "Black" Friday means "shopping" to me. However, that is only shopping for a Christmas tree. As a lapsed Episcopalian, I know I should hold out, restrain myself, until Christmas Eve when it is truly time to decorate the yuletide tree. (And keep it up until epiphany.) However when I consider the investment I have made over the years in ornaments and the time it takes to properly trim the tree, is it worth the effort for less than 4 or 5 weeks? In one word - No. The time to enjoy a trimmed tree is however many days there are between Thanksgiving and Christmas day.

In my mind, September through December is a triathlon of holidays. And those 3 holidays should all have their moment to shine, all in their proper time . . . and proper order. Halloween, the "pagan" celebration on the eve of All Saints is supposed to come first.  3 or 4 weeks later, Thanksgiving should follow as a day of thanks, a celebration of family and friends, not to mention the feast. Then a month or so later, we celebrate Christmas.

As an aside, some feel Christmas is a lost soul. The day that is supposed to be a celebration of the birth of Christ, has gotten lost in the expectation of the Jolly Ol'e Elf, irreverent songs (ie such as "Grandma got Run Over by a Reindeer"), and commercialism on steroids. In my mind, Christmas is what one makes it. For practicing Christians, it is still all about the birth of the Christ Child, a time of carols, the creche, and services. For most of us, it is the joy of friends and family as we gather together. It is a time of remembrance of past Christmases, seeing the wonder in a child's eyes, and the exchange of gifts. And, last but not least, to many, it is a time of parties and frivolity. To each their own. But, I digress.

The bottom line is that the holidays are what one makes of them. It our choice what and how we celebrate. But, whatever one chooses, or not, there is an order to the universe and that includes the Gregorian calendar. It doesn't matter how one looks at it, October comes first followed by November, and finally December.

As an aside Hanukkah falls in here also. However, I am embarrassed to say I do not know enough about the holiday to comment on it. Perhaps some research is in the cards.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

The Magic of September

 September is my favorite month of the year. While most folks yearn for spring that breaks through the winter doldrums, I long for September.  To me, it brings to mind the first crisp days of cooler weather. OK, I know that these few glorious days are sprinkled among the remaining dog days of summer. But still, it gives me hope.

Like the songs about the month:  "September" by Earth, Wind and Fire, "September Morn" by Neil Diamond, "It might as Well Rain until September" by Carol King, and "I'll See You in September" by The Happenings, and "September Song" by Frank Sinatra, it is special time.

The leaves of the dogwood tree show a faint blush of red that professes the oncoming change of color. Footsteps crackle on the brown fallen leaves under foot. Rakes are pulled from their summer sheds to sweep up the leaves and pine straw that have started to fall. Golden rod brings a bright color to the edges of the fields. As much as I enjoyed the freedom of the summer break I was happy to get back into the cadence of school. There were the reunions with old friends I hadn't seen in months. Since we always started school in August, by September we were settled into a routine of new classes, text books, and book bags. 

Even with the welcome of cooler days, in September it was still warm enough to float down the river. In high school, when classes let out, my friends and I would change clothes, grab our black inner tubes, and coolers and head for the black water of the Edisto. As we floated along with the slow current, solving all the world's problems, the leaves of the cypress trees in the swamp were starting to turn a copper color.

At High Acres, the air was already crisp. There was the fragrance of apples in the orchard. The vistas were starting to show subtle bursts of color as the green faded. The horses were a bit more frisky in the chilly morning air.

From my high school days, it is the memories of football games, stolen kisses, and sweaters. Talk among my friends and me turned to plans for the fall dances - Homecoming, Sadie Hawkins, and Cotillion.  There was much discussion about possible dates and dresses. 

During my college years, September meant we were once again on our own, out of the prying eyes of parents. There were the new roommates in old dorms, new classes with tenured professors, and the freedom of our youth. In Charleston, the onslaught of tourists had faded and it was if we had the town back to our own. Or, at least the (then ) 4 square blocks that made up our campus, bordered by George, St. Phillips, Calhoun, and Coming streets.

And, best of all, the long shadows are there in the afternoon, giving everything a wondrous glow. 

Sunday, September 12, 2021

New Math

 With most in my generation, I am trying to do New Math with an Old Math mind. All that said, I'm pretty sure 2 x 10 still equals 20. And, Pi is still 3.14159265359 and is the ratio of the circumference of any circle to the diameter of that circle.

All this brings to mind age. Is 1 still 1 or is it 2. I turned 62 this year. Does that mean I am enjoying my 62nd year of my life? Oh, no! Insult to injury, in truth I am now in my 63rd year. Let's do the math. I was born in 1959. Last time I checked (in Old Math Terms) 2021-1959 equals 62. 

So I have achieved 62 years of age, which honestly means I am now in my 63rd year.  But, by God, I am not 63 yet, therefore I will take a victory lap and enjoy my 62 years.  63 can wait, unless I go back to the future. 

But, as "they" say, 'Age is just a state of mind.' I find little solace in that given this most likely was said by some 30 something trying to assuage an elder attempting new math. 

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Where were you that September Morning?

Of all our genres of American music Country Music often best reflects life. It is more than just songs about unrequited love, the loss of one's old pickup truck or juke boxes and bars. As we all reflect on 9/11/01, I think Alan Jackson said it best. "Where were you when the world stopped turnin' that September day?"

I remember I was standing in the judge's chamber's galley watching the 2nd plane hit the towers. But more importantly, I remember where I was the night before. Little did I know that my birthday dinner that night with my immediate family was the end of our innocence. Much like 12/7 and Pearl Harbor, 9/11 is an indelible memory we will live with for generations to come.

Just like anyone alive at the time remembers where they were when they learned that Pearl Harbor had been bombed and, then years later, that president Kennedy had been shot, I clearly remember the dinner that night. One of our daughter's announced that she had been accepted into the Duke TIP program and my husband retold some humorous conversation he had at work. Both these, and other parts of the evening, come to mind. I had no way of foreseeing that that dinner was the end of life as we knew it. 

As a child, I can remember both of my parents telling me their memories of both 12/7/41 and 11/22/63. I never thought I would have my "Pearl Harbor" moment. The scene of the smoke billowing from those 2 buildings into that brilliant blue September sky is an indelible memory. The stories of families who lost one or more loved ones in New York, Pennsylvania or DC, are still haunting.

There were almost 3000 families directly effected by the events of that day (and 1000's more due to the casualties of the war that followed). There was an understandable  outrage. But since the spring of 2020, in our country alone, we are losing an average of 1500 souls a day due to this pandemic. In my mind it is another 9/11 moment, just one we have lived in a slow rolling nightmare for almost 18 months as opposed to the scary hours of one morning. Let us keep this in mind. 

In 2001 we all united, the red and the blue together, almost into a shade of purple, to revenge this assault on our fellow citizens. Everyone was appalled at the idea of this attack and loss of life. This country was joined together to ensure we never experienced such an incursion again. Yet, 20 years later we cannot unite behind the loss of over 659,000 of our fellow citizens, when we have the ability to stop this madness. True, a terrorist attack on our country and the effects of an international pandemic can be seen as 2 different things. But truly are they?

Friday, September 10, 2021

Send in the Clowns

 A birthday is a celebration. Sure, but in reality it is another check on the tote board of life. Don't get me wrong I am not trying to be maudlin, but this is reality. Face it, few people live a Hallmark Card life. Thankfully I am not one of them. Should our lives be all cheery, happy, and full of fun we would gain little and learn even less. 

Looking back, my life has been made rich by the trials and tribulations I have endured. Sure, the good times have been dear and great fun. Time with family and friends is invaluable, the joy of life. But more often it is the lessons learned and the difficulties overcome that build character. And character makes us venture more and makes our lives richer. I often say nothing ventured, nothing gained.

This day can also be a time of reflection, a time to review the past year, to take stock, a time to plan for the year to come. Yada yada yada. Or it can be just another of the 365 days of the year (well 366 in a leap year.) It is what we make of it.

I truly believe with life, you can actually have your cake and eat it too - but only if that is your choice. Sitting aside and watching the parade of life go by will get you no where. To truly live, we must fly on the great trapeze, walk the tight rope, and join the clowns in the car.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

To Friend or Not

 I'm not wedded to Facebook. It is not the first thing I check in the morning, nor the last I peruse before going to sleep. Sure, I'll post a picture here or there. Since any image can be cut and pasted from a Facebook post and I'm pretty protective of my photos and paintings, I am careful with what I share. I happened to notice yesterday that I have 1,700 "Friends". Seriously, I don't know that many people. 

Just because someone sends me a "Friend Request" does not mean I am going to accept. Before doing so, I always check to see what mutual friends we have. When I see that there is only one mutual "Friend" and I do not know them, I pass. As much as I love excitement in my life, a stalker is not in the plan. 

So then I question the request. What is the impetus behind it? Was a post of mine shared and interested this perspective "Friend"? Could that interest turn into an action of commerce? I tread lightly. I don't look through the person's page. I either accept the request, deny the request, or leave it to 'marinade' before making a decision either way.

But back to the 1700. (Even that comment sounds like Mrs. Astor's list of 400. Making or not making her list could solidify one's social status, or doom them to a life of only invitations  to second rate events.)  Seriously, considering colleagues I met at various jobs throughout my career, current friends, former and present neighbors, college friends, parents of friends, folks that share some of my interests, I still don't count up 1700. Some rainy day, when I am bored out of my mind, am not motivated to do much, I'll just delve into the list. Just out of curiosity, who are these people?

Several weeks ago, I realized that there are  a dozen or so "Friends" who are no longer with us. In good conscious, how can I "Unfriend" someone who has passed on? 

Speaking of "Unfriending", the ultimate diss, I'll admit I have taken this drastic measure with several people I did not want "Following" me. I have nothing to hide, I just tire of their constant "Likes", emojis and obnoxious comments. If someone has time to  comment to most posts, especially with banal responses, they have more time on their hands than interests in their lives. They deserve being (secretly) sent to purgatory. Ah, the power of the "Unlike" button.

But it is nice to keep up with old friends and buddies. We are all so spread out, so into our own lives, that I can think of no other way to see what is going on. It is always a pleasant surprise when someone from my past takes time to "Reach out and touch" me. 

Bottom line, if I don't comment to a comment of yours, don't take it personally. I try to only comment when I have something to say or add to the conversation. A simple "Like" means I have read the post and agree. 

So with all this, I need to finish this short tome (yes, I realize that is an oxymoron) so I can post it and get on with my day. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Whatever happened to the Metrecal Lunch Clubs?

For most of my life I have battled my weight. The exception being the few years I was "Big as the side of a house" as my father would say. During that time of my life, I just went into denial. Suddenly clothes were being sized bigger, as in what was an 8 was now a 12 (and later a 16). Airlines greatly reduced the size of their seats - to the point that a normal person was uncomfortable.

Reality set in when I saw myself on a video. It was not pretty. In fact, it was ugly. No, let me rephrase that, it was tragic and frightening. After 3 or 4 years of getting my weight under control, I emerged at a decent weight and new self esteem.

The scales are my nemesis. Early on I realized that weighing first thing every morning was a way to truly stay on course. Whatever the almighty scales revealed, I consumed accordingly. Some folks think one should NEVER weigh every morning. To each their own - whatever works.

Recently, I looked back on weight loss plans that have come and gone over the years. Like many other things in life - dieting is mystical at best, hysterical at worse.

I can remember diet foods and drinks, that came and went, promising weight loss. There was Metrecal (circa early 1960's), Slim-Fast (circa 1977), Tab (1963), Carnation Slender (1964), Ayds (1941), and Figurines (1974), to name a few.

In the early 1990's the fad was the low fat diet. I can remember eating and entire Entenmann's Coffee Cake with no remorse or guilt. After all it was totally fat free. I just denied the 2500 calories. Someone had to be doing drugs (good drugs) when they invented that idea. Unfortunately, as many diets before it, it failed.

Even so, I still think Julia Childs was brilliant. One of her quotes was: “If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.”

There was the water diet, then Drs said that too much water caused bloat. Vegetarian dieting was in voque until the low carb / high protein (as in meat) came along. "Limit your food intake to 1 meal a day and one healthy snack" was followed by "eat several small meals a day". Drink weight loss supplements, until, Oops, diet drinks and supplements contain chemicals that make your body crave carbs. The bottom line is - if you cannot find a diet you can live with just wait, one will come along.

And then there were the machines of torture.

All this rambling came to mind this morning after I stepped off the scales. This is insane - this all consuming concern over our weight. More often this is over vanity not health. I need to just stay healthy and eat right. Well maybe, but I am caught between "I am old enough to enjoy what foods I want, weight be damned." and "What drastic diet can I use to get into a size smaller this fall?"

Monday, September 6, 2021

The Scourge of Pumpkin Spice

 I love the fall. To me the Fall Equinox brings about a time of crisp air, fresh apples, sweater weather, and colorful leaves. Well honestly, we know the crisp air I so crave does not come until November, but I digress. Of all these wonderful things, it also brings about something I do not understand: Pumpkin Spice. 

What the Hell? In the first 50 years of my life the only "Pumpkin Spice " I knew of was the one bakers put in their pumpkin pie. One of the few pastries I am not a fan of but I respect.

I doubt that Linus's interest in his pumpkin patch was, "Wow, think of all the pumpkin spice we can make from these pumpkins." Nor, do I believe that the Great Pumpkin had pumpkin spice on his mind when(ever) he appears. Charlie Brown '...attributed Linus's belief in the Great Pumpkin to "denominational differences" '. I agree. There are many things I may worship, but a spice in the Great Pumpkin's name doesn't make that list. 

These days, Pumpkin Spice has ventured far from the tiny tins of Sauers. First it creeped into Star Buck's seasonal blend, then scones, muffins, and milkshakes became victims. I could accept this use of the spice. However, one can now buy everything pumpkin spice from body lotions to air freshener to scented towels. Oh, the inhumanity.

But, I respect someone else's desires. After all, I enjoy anchovies on my pizza. But, as much as I do, I would not want a body lotion or air freshener in that scent. OK, maybe that is not the best example, but to me this accrescent of pumpkin spice is just as vile.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Shackles of our Past

 As, I mentioned before, down here we don't throw much away. I never really thought about this until several days ago when I decided I needed a new sofa. But what to do with the current one with its broken springs and uncomfortable cushions. Unfortunately, the piece is one of an exact matching pair of Empire style sofas my mother had. Oh, the conundrum! I can't throw it out, it is worth too much. It makes no sense to keep it, seeing that doing so requires storing it somewhere. 

And, the mahogany end tables that were in my grandmother's living room? Or the marble topped table that I remember sitting in my Aunt Kat's entry hall? And on and on it goes.  What shackles us to these pieces? Sure, we can give the provenance of each piece, who had it in each generation, and exactly where it sat in which room. It is as if the pieces are our history. They tell the story. There is also most likely is a book on the family history or the family Bible where every birth, marriage, and death is recorded for posterity. Every life time milestone of generations with the exception of a divorce - which rarely was acknowledged.

Is it the comfort of the worn wood, the old brass, the nicks and scratches in the patina? Perhaps it is just  simply the ease. Generation after generation just settles into life among these pieces. Oh, we may recover an upholstered piece or refinish the surface of that chest on chest. Of course this later practice became no longer de riguier when PBS's Antique's Roadshow proclaimed that any change (refinishing surface, replacing any nobs or hinges, or fixing a broken piece) would greatly reduce the value of the piece.

For us, those scratches and dents are the scars of pieces being used daily. Like the family Bible, they, too, tell a story. An example of this in our family had to do with my grandmother's prized sterling tea service. As a young boy my father took an ice pick to the cover of the sugar dish which resulted in three round holes in the sterling piece. A silversmith had done his best work to repair the wound, which still bore the scars of that brutal attack. My mother was always quick to point out the repaired places, and tell the story. (Thankfully, she did not go as far as to attribute the damage to gunshots that occurred as Sherman's troops stormed the old home place.)

But what difference does it make to us? A family member will rarely sell a piece therefore making the "devaluation" of an altered piece irrelevant. It is bad enough we will not part with them, insisting that our home decor be determined by pieces of our past. Add to that, if we follow this practice of preservation, we must live with pieces that are dull, missing handles, or have drawers that no longer work. Of course, there is always the frowned upon practice of buying new pieces (brand new reproductions) and adding them to the family cache. Some compare buying reproductions to wearing white after labor day. Except the former is an affront to the family, while the later is just a sign of bad taste.

Back to problem at hand - the Empire Style sofa. Do I spend good money fixing the 8 way hand tied coils and recovering it in a smart damask or part with it and face my mother's ire from the grave? The jury is still out on this one.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

The Great Purge and Restoration

September 1 was the great purge; the migration of the spring clothes to the attic. No longer is my closet filled with white, pink, light green, yellow and baby blue clothes. These are replaced with the bright browns, greens, and oranges. I hoped bringing them forth from the attic would somehow hasten the coming of cooler weather. I can always hope.

The spring clothes have been blessed for their long winter's hibernation, folded neatly, and placed in their tubs. The tubs have been returned to their resting place. And like cocoons, when I open those tubs next mid March I will find those bright colors. They will cheer me up and remind me that spring is coming with its warm weather. (I know, be careful what you wish for.) 

As I piled up the spring and summer clothes, I remembered the expert advice (from someone on some  TV show - based in the unreality zone)  - "If you haven't worn it in a year - toss it." Convincing myself that I really don't  have any sentimental attachment to many of these threads, I considered this as I packed up the spring clothes. There were shirts, skirts, and summer sweaters that I have to admit I have not worn in a year (or 2). So I threw these on a pile to be "tossed". As I sorted, folded, unfolded, hung up and removed from hangers, the "tossed" pile  steadily grew.

This year I noticed a change in my clothes. I took them from their storage containers, laid them on my bed, and examined them for any holes (those pesky moths) or stains. Then I tried a few of the skirts on just to lighten my spirits. Alas, instead of the thrill of new clothes (well new to me - I have a short memory) it was the agony of tight zippers. Something had caused my skirts to shrink. They seemed to be a size smaller. Horrors! The same thing had happened with my pants. It was the case for all of them. 

I thought back, over the many years this had never happened. How could the elements effect my clothes this year but not in years past. Then it dawned on me, the obvious, the elements had not effected my clothes, the elements had effected me. Mid life had taken its toll. Those three pounds had settled in an unfortunate place. And it was not pretty. 

My motto has always been when my clothes got too tight it was time to lose weight not buy new clothes. This was my sign. Well, this was my sign to either lose weight or adjust my motto. 

For now, my fall and winter clothes are neatly placed in the closet, organized by color. Yes, for several weeks I will be anal enough to keep that system going. After that I will question the wisdom of that folly. Whatever. Today my closet is full of fall colors that mirror the hues of fall leaves. 

As I put the final spring clothes in their tubs, I looked at the pile to be discarded. Seeing a tub only half full, I just threw the unwanted clothes in it and sealed the top. I put it away with the other tubs, all the same color and size. I'll deal with "tossing" clothes next spring - what did that "expert" know after all. She/He must not be from the south, because down here we "toss" very little. We hold onto everything as if the spirits of family members who predecease us will rise from the grave and haunt us for abandoning our past.