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Posts Tagged ‘Renkl’

“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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It’s one thing to write about your life, and another to dig deeper into the details of one’s life. Bob told me he learned something from my last blog post, which is an important thing to do in any relationship – keep surprising people! The Flapper always said you should “…leave them wanting more,” a theatrical reference about curtain calls I think. But it’s also a pretty good life mantra; end your career at the top for instance, don’t descend into dementia on the job. Anyway, in case you are interested…

1. I’m a real Fan Girl. I’ve met two of my folk/rock/pop idols and tried hard not to gush, but the fine art of small talk just drifts away in the presence of greatness. Last year it was EmmyLou, but when we used to drive out to the Vineyard every spring with the little Love Bug I met Carly Simon in a clothing store. I probably turned red as a beet!

2.  I was once a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Back in the Berkshires, I convinced a friend to take the 6 month course with me. We pushed on a life-sized doll’s chest to try and get her heart beating again, “Annie, Annie are you OK?” Right after we graduated, the city of Pittsfield hired professional firefighters, so our days of volunteer work were done.

3.  Serious Crafting used to be my jam. Like Little Women everywhere, I was told that idle hands are the devil’s playground; thanks Music Man. It all started with quilting, I made aprons and pillows, blankets took way too long. Then I started knitting, mostly kids’ stuff and scarves, though I did once knit a sweater that got me stopped at Heathrow Airport. Today, I dabble with stringing pearls into eternity necklaces.

4.  I try to hide it, but this writer is a Porcelain Snob. It started way before Downton Abbey; maybe it’s the reference to homemaking, for a kid who never settled into anyone’s home. I recently had a dream where I had to explain that I wasn’t IN the foster care system, I just had foster parents. No big deal. But like a true Jersey girl, I never pay full price for my dishes. Great Grandma Ada and I traveled to Trenton to pick out my set of Lenox at the warehouse… this was when it was made in the good ‘ole USA!

5.  While my blog is named Mountain Mornings, I am definitely NOT a Morning Person. I mean I do like to start writing in the mid-morning, but coffee is de rigueur. I could stay up all night reading a good book, btw currently reading Margaret Renkl’s “Late Migrations, a Natural History of Love and Loss.” It’s a terrific antidote to the times, lulling me to sleep with short snippets of her childhood in rural Alabama juxtaposed with her current life in the city of Nashville. I cannot recommend this beautiful book of essays enough.

6.  I have (or maybe had is the better tense) an uncanny ability to Predict Trends. My fails are: I finally started painting my nails, and it still feels funny; and dyeing my eyebrows which is really funny! My wins are: I knew gaucho pants were looming on the horizon, and smartly avoided purchasing them.  I saw the snap bracelet coming from far away, same thing with oxfords for grown women. I was wearing this comfortable shoe long before Taylor Swift. It troubles me to report that I just bought my first pair of orthotics, per a sports medicine doctor who said I have a healing stress fracture in my foot. Thank you old age.

7.  Last but not least, I now have a Love/Hate Relationship With the Beach! My kids grew up on the Jersey Shore, and before that we’d travel to the Vineyard all the time. Later on, our paradise in the French West Indies was a continual winter retreat. I loved going to bed with sand in the sheets. But now, all that sunshine has crept up on me. Over the years, a dermatologist has been scrapping dubious patches of skin off my arms, hands, and nose. Looking “tan” has lost its cache, relegated to the ash heaps of time and cigarettes. Not that tanning was even possible for me. This explains my hat fetish! Still, my diagnosis of guttate psoriasis means I need some sun every day! What to do?

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