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Archive for the ‘inspiration’ Category

The Chair

The Chair
She sat most days in that chair on the porch. Like everything around, it never really seemed.old. It must have been put there on that porch, in the same place by Grancy. Neither she nor the chair would have been young at the time.
It is placed to catch just enough sun and shade. Sitting there, you never get too hot to stopping shelling peas nor too cold to go inside. Each woman of the house shaped that chair. You could feel the tiny form of Grancy. Each generation a bit larger made its own form, blurring the harder edges under them. It took years to mold the seat to fit each larger bottom.
Sitting in the chair, you can must look up to see the interstate. Its wall dead ends the street so everybody who passes by speaks. Some come to the steps to look toward the chair. These are the gossipers, salesmen, mostly men with eager eyes. Not so often now, when they learn the girls are grown, living on their own.
The chair stays on the porch. It is smooth and dark as are the women who sit there. Enough happens in front of them that the newsboy never stops. All the stories are shared more with chair than either lady. Its like it has been in the same exact spot for over 100 years. One woman sits there as if she has become royalty and the chair is her throne. It will be hers as long as she is able to get up in the morning. 
And the chair now is occupied with the great-grand daughter. She stares over the railing of the porch. A few brown and near brown children play in the hot dusty street. It is summer and they come out early. Their parents are asleep. Most count on someone in the chair will keep them quiet. 
A few sharply dressed women head for the dead end which traps all on this street. A path through one unfenced yard is the only escape to the bus stop. Their stride, more plodding than teetering. Their good heels, carefully wrapped in tissue, lie next to their umbrella in oversize handbags. A few have only a shopping bag. These women work as house cleaners, child and health care workers. The factories closed years ago.
The only real sounds are from the flowing rush hour cars above the wall. It is mid -morning before the gawking eyed men come to the steps with gossip. Who is sleeping with whom? Why the eighteen year old boy at the corner hasn’t been seen? He was in jail for a week before he died. Who is making, selling or using drugs. 
Nothing ruffles the mood in the chair. The rhythm of shelling peas never stops. The stories are always the same. . But yesterday was different. Sirens, banging and speed on top of the wall, just as sunlight faded. It changed everything. 
For once, the chair was empty for something other than chores or church. No one took her place. The siren and flashing lights lit up the air. A huge SUV tumbled side over side, front over back, end over end down the wall into the dead end street. 

Looking up, you could just see the top of a long truck. And parts of cars on top seem caught in the concrete as the car descended the wall. It drew a crowd because no one ever knew what went right or wrong on top where cars raced at rush hour. In the crowd were the children. A few on bikes. A few mothers with toddlers quickly left the bloody scene. “Bedtime”they said gathering them close.

As always the gawking men had started the evening with a few drinks. They ran back and forth as a telegraph service. Women were coming back from work. At first, no one knew what to do. A man, the driver, got out easily. He seemed uneasy facing the crowd and hearing the sirens of police, fire and ambulance. This was going to be a new story.
“Get the chair.” She ordered one of the larger boys. The chair! It had never moved off its spot on the porch for over a hundred years.
Some one was needed to settle the man. Some one to decide what was needed. Others in the car had to be checked until an ambulance could come. It was amazing anyone survived. Then she said to a crowd “Let us pray,” And they did. 
Suddenly the driver got up out of the chair, confessing his sins to her, sharing how it happened he found himself falling in a large SUV over a wall into their very laps. The police came first. The wrecker cleared most of the SUV except what remained on the wall, An ambulance arrived last. It got lost because ever since the interstate came, the street was an alley. All the people in the car rode out in the ambulance.
She took her chair. She put in its place on the porch as near as she could remember. Then she sat down as someone always did, She was royalty and the chair was her throne.

Sent from my iPad

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We make internet friends by following each other. WordPress has been a great gift of your blogs.  Some of you comment on things I have written, and I have also. There is much to learn and share.  And through it all, I feel enriched, inspired, and supported.

Today, in my email I was reminded of this sentimentality. I have been following Ali Manning, a bookbinder. Each of her  newsletters teach a technique. In addition, she welcomes photos of work by others. These she shares with her many followers.  I felt very comfortable last year sending a photo of a mini copper covered book. She writes in such a way that you feel she might be interested.

That first little book was in her newsletter even though I do not (have not) followed her instructions. Now today, in  her email she shares the mini crushed velvet book I made for a Christmas gift! She devoted a full paragraph explaining  how and why it was made.

I hope you will check out her blog vintagepagedesigns.com. In the menu is a link to Readers Books. The February 20, 2016 posting will take you there. And if you want to know many ways to bind books, follow her.

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What did you talk about around the table on Thanksgiving?
Predictions were that current elections and the possibility of war would be top topics. After the sumptuous meal, for the fortunate ones, the grown-up table talk increases. 
We were among guests who shared personal experiences, opinions, and concerns. A small group of adults who spanned five generations. Our common characteristics: African American. We were all employed. (The most senior are employed at staying well and alive.) We shared our middle class-ness, regardless of the path to arrive there. Each person speaking from their own generation: spokes in a wheel.
I have been trying to find symbols that represent what was most important, and disturbing. Were I a composer, I think I would make music. A better writer, perhaps a pamphlet of opinion, a summary and possible conclusions. I might save characterization for a future novel. 
But I am primarily a visual artist. One who usually thinks content before making art. I want symbols where there were no cymbals at the table. The words radiated out from the heat off the sun and cooled as they were politely spoken. Drawn childlike. At the center, each of us spoke from the core of hurts, large, small, deep. Too painful to admit. Lava-like flowing on the outside of a hardened inner core. Too painful to go deeply.
Perhaps, a ball of twine wrapped around a stone. Sometimes a ribbon of velvet and silk, sometimes the roughened rope.

Perhaps a basket made by gichee mothers or for Moses. Safe passage except for a tiny hole. 
Perhaps, a fire burned down to ashes and then getting new life, reigniting. How do you express the cycles of history? The collective rebellions shut down by guns? The passiveness of fear? Not telling our children the full extent of the law and its historic significance? Jacob Lawrence painted the tables but could not record the talk around it. Karin Walker’s silhouettes are just eye candy without the words behind them. 
Or, the broken chains. We are left with the comfort meal, some understanding of how we are all connected but no workable solution.

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All of American people seem to do nor think of anything else. I have thought about the wotrdpress blogger, Roberto Albeghetti. He has written the biography of the new Pope. Of course, it is Italian. 

I wonder if he has travelled to America with him. It will be of interest to know what the Italians make of us. Roberto is no stranger to the United States but the people may be transformed by this week.

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Where am I?

That was the question I woke up with this morning. Of course, it covers a range of possibilities. The first was opening my eyes at first light. The room looked familiar and strange at the same time. A few blinks and the reality focused: I was in the guest room of my daughter’s home. And why? She will receive an award for community service, and I will witness yet another of her achievements.

A flight of under three hours may seem the usual until you overhear a cellphone conversation. A couple settled down to phone their son. “Had a nice visit. First time ever flying, and gone well. Hoping return would go as well. Yes, they had figured out the wheelchair service. See you again soon.”

These travellers were senior citizens. And yet they had never flown on an airplane. I wondered how tech-savy they are. Does having a cellphone imply having a computer? An iPad? Blog or twitter account? We have our feet planted in the past and future by living in houses years old, modern stainless steel kitchen appliances, drive cars that talk back to us.

And yet there are still people who have not or will not fly. Children who may never ride a horse, milk a cow or ride a train. Our grandchildren ask what it was like in the olden days.

Friday Specials
My aunt was 82 in 1982. I remember asking how she had handled the changes from walking, horse and buggy to air and highspeed rail. How she had stayed optimistic after wars and little peace. I had bought her a tape recorder to tell her stories. For her youth, she said it was too painful to revisit. She lived in the present. She braved surgery to correct surgery that had blinded her. She taught herself to write again. She was introduced to color television’s beauty and read the New York Times again.

The tape recorder was never turned on.

Where does all that knowledge go if not passed on? Piecing toether from online clues, she was
..born in Meridian, MS to former slaves
..her father was in the USCT army at Vicksburg
..he was a railway mail carrier and may have died in a train wreck
..she lived a few years in a boarding school in VA where her mother worked as a domestic
..she lived with a brother and finished high school in Chicago
..she was among the few Black Yeomanettes working for the Navy in DC during WW I
which gave her veteran benefits for life
..she was a life-time member of the NAACP and women’s groups
..she put her age up and race aside to work for the State of NY for 35 years
..she had no children but helped educate her nieces, nephews and grands.
..she travelled widely and enjoyed many interests.

Who knew?
So where am I? also means, where am I in a long line of achievers? And where are we all?

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Today is the 50th year since the first March on Washington. It had an enormous impact on the country and the world. How could one Black minister stand before a crowd of 250,000, and in a few words move a government and shame a people into positive action?  It was before the internet and social media, before cell phones and cable tv, and before mega-churches. It was an age of proclaimed innocence. (more…)

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Cropped screenshot of Count Basie and his band...


Supercillous-ness

My education in Detroit went from the third grade and ended in McMichael Jr. High. In that year and one-half in the Jr.High, I learned to swim and dive off the high board. A group of my classmates and I spent three to four days a week touring historic and cultural institutions. If it was an experiment, it made a huge difference in my life.

We went to Deerfield to learn about the automobile workers, to the Detroit Art Institute to see the Diego murals. Also Symphonies and libraries. It would have been impossible to test us on the value to our future lives.

A friend from elementary school was in our group. She and I bonded over reading only books that had two copies. Each day we compared and headed back to get a new reading adventure. Our favorite started with one word on the page, Supercillious. It rolls off your tongue.

Boys included: Billy Williams, who later toured with Count Basie, Governour Morriss, and my cousin were among the boys. Louise Smith, and Carol, (she and her sister Barbara were Breck models) were among the girls. I saw Governour on William Buckley‘s television show and he had a Phd.

Now the city of Detroit and its marvelous Art Institute are in danger of losing its one-of-a-kind cultural institution. Please think of the children who may never see the Diego murals or the African artifacts which are available now. Once art collections are dispersed, their best contributions will be lost.

Search online:

YourDictionary.com for definition of title.

Breck model portraits.

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