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Posts Tagged ‘Oktoberfest’

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life” Pablo Picasso

Today is Picasso’s birthday, he was born in Spain on October 25, 1881. My relationship to art is unfortunately subjective – if it moves me in any way, if it reminds me of the mountains or the sea, if I could just fall in love with the colors. But Picasso is a different breed of artist. Although I can understand his modernist vision, I wouldn’t want to hang his paintings on my walls…. even if I could afford them! His deconstructed asymmetrical portraits would haunt my dreams.

This weekend the Bride found an artist she loves at Artclectic, an annual art exhibit at the Grands school. Jaime Barks hails from Chattanooga and infuses her gorgeous paintings with the colors of nature. I wasn’t planning on attending, Bob and I had a mini-Oktoberfest planned with some dear neighbors in their carport. They cooked the bratwurst and kraut, we all brought a dish along with our folding chairs.

But I managed to sneak away from a simmering pot of German-style potato soup to immerse my masked-and-vaccinated self in the swirl of mixed media and sculpture at the school’s gym.

Last year Artclectic was cancelled due to Covid. They may have had an online auction, but nothing beats meeting the artists – “In Real Time and Real Life” plus mingling with friends and neighbors! Our everyday lives are expanding; children must get to religious school or soccer practice, dogs must go to the vet, parents are back at work, and social events are continuing outside and inside. The Grands should be vaccinated next month… it’s like post-Covid life has begun.

After four years of the clown presidency, coupled with our current pandemic, our mundane day to day way of life has been stirring up a lot of metaphorical dust.

And with it all, the artist/writer who carried me through lockdowns and other losses is Nashville native, Margaret Renkl. She sees the world the way my better self would want to see it. She can break our natural world into words that will inspire her reader. And she did just that this morning in the NYTimes, “The First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Leaf Blowers.”

“They come in a deafening, surging swarm, blasting from lawn to lawn and filling the air with the stench of gasoline and death. I would call them mechanical locusts, descending upon every patch of gold in the neighborhood the way the grasshoppers of old would arrive, in numbers so great they darkened the sky, to lay bare a cornfield in minutes. But that comparison is unfair to locusts…. Grasshoppers belong here. Gasoline-powered leaf blowers are invaders, the most maddening of all the maddening, environment-destroying tools of the American lawn-care industry.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/25/opinion/leaf-blowers-california-emissions.html

Leaf blowers are maddening! They can destroy a meditative dog walk in a minute. We live directly across the street from an apartment building, every single day there is a team of leaf blowers that surround the whole block. I hated the sound of them in Rumson on expansive suburban lawns, but here in the city, it’s not just the jet-like decibel level of noise. It’s the swirling daily dust and debris with an occasional leaf thrown in that is almost disabling. Conversation stops, we look away to protect our eyes, but sitting in our garden, mask-less, cannot protect our lungs.

“That dust can contain pollen, mold, animal feces, heavy metals and chemicals from herbicides and pesticides,” notes Sara Peach of Yale Climate Connections. All this adds up to increased risk of lung cancer, asthma, cardiovascular disease, premature birth and other life-threatening conditions.

Bob has always been a huge proponent of “natural” lawn care. We would never spray chemicals on our lawn, we’d watch the grass turn yellow in August like it was meant to do, and Bob never believed in blowing the leaves into a pile. We’d occasionally rake the Fall bounty into piles for the proverbial ‘child romping in leaves’ picture. But he always felt like leaving the leaves alone was best, and maybe cleaning up the corners in the Spring. Turns out, Bob was right after all! But don’t tell him I said that.

Tell him I found a beautiful painting of the mountains, and I’m making another soup.

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Oktoberfest ended with a little rain and a lot of dachshunds! And since our friend Eli was visiting with her son Leo, we all met the Bride’s family for the Annual Dachshund Derby in Germantown. Leo decided that Nashville should be renamed “Dogland,” since dogs of every variety strolled through the park with their beer drinking masters in lederhosen. Still, watching those wiener dogs race was hilarious. http://thenashvilleoktoberfest.com/dogtoberfest/

Ms Bean was delighted to sit on the front porch and watch the canine parade go by  behind the cover of a maple tree. She has staked out her territory thankfully, and the sidewalk is safe for most breeds. Corgi puppies and Great Danes stroll right by without looking up to see her eyeing them suspiciously. After all, she is a rescue mutt, origins unknown, and she’s proud of it! She doesn’t need some set of AKC papers to know she is a prey-driven lover girl!

Unlike certain people, who require validation in order to feel good about themselves. It’s not enough to be a professional for some, your pedigree must include only “The Best” schools, “The Finest” clerkships or residencies. These are the silent judges in our midst; constantly ranking others according to some inner calculation, one they are only slightly aware of and would never admit. It’s still a Dog and Pony Show world it would seem, no matter where you go.

You can usually sniff them out, the pretentious co-mingling of class and money. It’s a primal thing I suppose, as territorial as Ms Bean and my friendly mailman. Great Grandma Ada would call this person a “Noodge.” ie Someone who is a pest, an annoying critic of your every move. It’s exactly what we are currently trying to teach the Love Bug’s toddler brother to avoid – not to whine! “You’re not whining are you?” I’ll ask him. The etymology is probably Slavic, and:

likely from Yiddish נודיען nudyen ‘to bore, pester’, נודניק nudnik ‘bore, pest’, influenced by English “nudge”  http://www.jewish-languages.org/jewish-english-lexicon/words/417

Some people become lifetime complainers; their shoulders are burdened by a ton of self-generated worry. I’m sure Freud would tell us they got stuck at that two year old developmental stage, but the latest winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics may have a different answer. Richard Thaler started applying smaller psychological theories of human behavior to influence larger changes in public policy with his “Nudge Theory!”

How do we get someone to make good decisions? Bob explained Thaler’s theory to me this way – if his company offered employees the opportunity to sign up for a 401K, he would get a small minority signing up. BUT if he automatically signed everyone up for a 401K, and told them they would have to opt out if they didn’t want to save for retirement, the large majority would participate! I guess the human species is just lazy and we all need a little “nudge” in the right direction, to avoid being a “noodge!”

As for us, the rain dampened the number of people walking into lamp posts and spilling their steins of beer. Bob only had to pick up an occasional St Pauli Girl can every morning off our stoop. Things are getting back to normal in Germantown.

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