Reaching back, hungrily, on a cloudy cold Thursday

I don't mind getting older, and I don't mind weighing a little more than in previous decades. But about a month ago, the asthma I suffer mainly in cold weather took sixteen leaps from mild, intermittent to raging, slaughtering, so that I have been lying in unhappy repose, finally submitting to daily pills and daily puffs and the dull hope of a December in which climbing the stairs does not defeat efforts to do something else once I've arrived at the top of them. Because along with that dull hope is the notion offered by the doctor that perhaps in a few weeks I can take up light stretching and gentle walks and take control over the Ohio-fueled or possibly coincidentally peri-menopausally-fueled expansion of my waistline.

Mostly I just want to go around and do stuff again.




YesterdayYesterday, trying out my sweet new winter hood.

Preparing space for NaNoWriMo and winter

Recently, I cleaned my closet well, repainted the bedroom, gave away more books, etc. to be comfortable and ready for winter. Time to do something about the little creative space, but it doesn't really get to be "attractive." The way I use it gives it a very utilitarian look, and so what I need to do is just make sure it feels nice to be in, which is a bit of a trick. I like for my surroundings to look and feel finished. This room is a tough case.

So I took a panoramic set of photos, and then a second lower view, to share and to reflect on. It might get me inspired, and it might inspire someone else.










Some Notes:

1. That print is dead level, and was in fact hung with the use of a level. The phone camera lens is another matter.

2. Clearly, I have more space than I need. This will not always be the case, and I am mentally prepared for that, as I must be. Chances are, you have less space. But even if you're just carving out a corner for yourself, do it for yourself; make it your oasis, however tiny, from the energy-sucking hot desert of a busy day.

3. And—it's fine if you think you prefer chaos, but there's a method to making that work for you as opposed to just having kind of an unified unholy mess. Think about why you have a lot of things surrounding you, what you're really getting from it. The answer might teach you something about what you truly need. If it does, do something about that right now. If you need help with it, ask me or a friend or the web.

2014 road trip photolog day two: hanging out in Princeton

That was September 12. This is photo heavy, and there is no jump. Also, some of the pictures of pictures are purposely not great. Anyway, we went to Small World Coffee, to check out the daughter's art exhibit and also have proper coffee, then we had a look at the cemetery, because I always do, and Princeton Record Exchange, then lunch at Agricola on Witherspoon, a cool exhibit at the art museum, then a rest before the lovely young woman and I drove to Philadelphia to see Pinback at Union Transfer.

Smallworld Acryliconglass
AcryliconglassThis one is my favorite.

HahnjrI always think they look like they're having a meeting.

Koppscycle This is Kopp's Cycle, the oldest bike shop in America.

CornedbeeflocalAt Agricola, on Witherspoon St. They use local ingredients, and are very into fermentation right now.

MehekIt always smells like heaven, walking past here.

StamoscardIf I'd known this would be so hard to find online, I'd have gotten a photo of it. There are several others with Sentinel in the title, but they are not this one.

Tworkov1960bondThis is Bond, by Jack Tworkov, 1960. Click on it to learn about the exhibit we saw.

DekooningcardClicking on this will take you to a better image than I could take in there. Mainly, I was snapping these cards and images so I could look them up later.


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I was sort of transformed when I saw this and read about it.

UniontransferClick on this image for a video.


2014 road trip photolog day one: it never took that long before

I can do this drive in ten hours without much hurry. It took us twelve, for an assortment of little needly reasons. But still, it was a good trip, across Ohio, WV, and PA, to Princeton NJ for our first stay. Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 11.09.38 AM

None of the photos are great, for two reasons. First, I didn't try to make them so, and second, my phone, which never really worked right since I got it in June, was on the verge of going utterly bonkers. This first set is not full of "interest," it's just an accounting of the trip across. Later, I'll upload large versions of the week's best ones to the photo page I have here. Photos with frames and a lot of filtering were done automatically by Google Plus.

If you haven't driven across the middle of the country to the east coast, you might not know about New Stanton. It's the final stop before you enter the PA Turnpike, and it looks...about as you'd expect it to. But the Chinese restaurant is pretty good. And then there are three mountain tunnels to go through, but not much else of interest unless you exit the Turnpike to see a few landmarks, such as Gettysburg, the 9/11 memorial, the state capital, and Valley Forge. Otherwise, straight shot to New Jersey.

So this was September 11, 2014.


Martinis made with Death's Door gin, and just a swirl of vermouth, at Crowne Plaza Hotel in Plainsboro, New Jersey.


Thrift Shop World

This week marks the beginning of our fourth year in Cincinnati. New Jersey seems farther away now. I still miss what I had there that I can't have here, or anywhere else, in fact. The sea, the history, the city, my daughters. Pizza just as I've always liked it, and real delis. A world, too, wholly unlike what people who've never been there think of it.

There's good stuff here that sets this place apart. The symphony, Jungle Jim's, and amazing thrift shops, to name some. This room is finally "finished" after three years of collecting from thrift shops and also Target, and the finishing touch was covering the dark sage paint with a creamy light blue. Resting
It's a room I've always wanted, except for horrible cat (I don't care if you think cats are Gods; you wouldn't think much of this one,) and no real company with which to enjoy it. My sons are pleased with the result, too, though. Last night we enjoyed lounging around until late into the night. Finished
The back open area with the fireplace, TV, PS4, that's made up of a collection of  things from various homes, it all just drifted together into a fairly pleasant "Mission style" kind of space. This, however, was all chosen by me, every single thing in here, except the cocktail shakers and turntables, which were gifts.
The two couches were from thrift shops and in perfect condition, until cat. But they are okay for the space. The stereo receiver also from a thrift shop, and the coffee table, many of the books and records, most of the magazines. The one extravagant purchase, though you could hardly call it that, is the pair of Klipsch bookshelf speakers.

Inside the "liquor cabinet" are many fun little glasses from St. Vincent de Paul, and an old hand crank ice crusher. I painted the pictures. Bluechair


Leaving room for serendipity always yields the best results

I was in Columbus this weekend. While I was driving around and checking out the city, the GPS popped up with something I couldn't believe never appeared during my Google planning for the trip. But if you search for it directly, you'll see lots of hits for it, and photographs pretty much like the ones I took to share here. It's the State of Ohio Asylum for the Insane Cemetery. 

Apparently, there are three such cemeteries, and when I looked into this, it seemed clear people aren't all talking about the same one. However, here's an interesting short blog post with photos of the Ohio Lunatic Asylum, where "crazy" people were experimented on...and now I have a new subject to obsess over for a few days. 

To get to this one, you park at the bottom of a road with locked bars, then walk up that gravel road about 1/4 mile past what looks like an old small quarry, but could have just been excavation of some kind, until you're suddenly in a peaceful grassy tucked away lot, and this gate appears almost as if it wouldn't always be there, or would go away if you blinked a couple times.  20130908_124141
Obviously there's no real apology that can be made for what we all know went on at those places up until way too recently. I mean, other than, "Our ancestors were terrible, terrible people. We'll try to do better."

The graves are in a neat and interesting order, in what seems to be three groups. There are two under a big tree, with others partially circling them, and then there are two large sections where they're laid out in rows. 20130908_124344
Apparently, there are also leftover prisoners buried here; the ones unclaimed by family. 20130908_124603
The rest of the graves have no birthdates. And some of them have no name at all, or just a name and no death date. 20130908_124309
I believe that some of the "unknown" ones are newer and replaced old markers labeled "specimen." But they all date from roughly 1857-1957, and are laid out chronologically, though the later unknowns have no years on them. 20130908_124208

These two markers really touched me. I kept going back to them. 20130908_124548

At the back of the lot, part of a tree had fallen and was just lying there, one more ghost added to the gruesomely peaceful scene. But I can't say it had been there for more than a month, judging by the grass growing underneath it. 20130908_124558
And I can't quite say that finding this spot was the highlight of my weekend, but it had an effect on me that is cause for reflection. This is my serious time of year, when I do contemplate life, the universe, and a few bits of everything, and start wanting to get it all down in words again. As the angle of the sun sharpens and the daytime light wanes, I feel a need bring it all together and make some sense out of it.

But of course, there are some things you just can't really make any sense out of at all, and the best you can do is reflect on it lightly while still moving forward. 20130908_124405

My Bi-Weekly Cincinnati Outing: Report #5

Two weeks ago I went to the symphony to hear a somewhat unusual concert. Unusual for me, at least. The one playing this weekend featuring Sarah Chang is more my speed. But I wanted something different. 

Watts Plays Beethoven's Emperor with Mei-Ann Chen, conductor, and André Watts, piano was the title of the program, but it also featured two contemporary pieces of music; "Poem," by Zhou Tian, and Jennifer Higdon's Concerto for Orchestra, which is just a real big experience to watch and hear live. Stunning, actually. If you can listen to the fourth movement, I recommend you do so but it's actually a satisfying piece of music altogether, though possibly a bit outlandish for anyone whose enjoyment of orchestral music is firmly pre-20th century. It's also not all that complex or intellectual, etc., if for some reason that's your thing. 

Here's a review of the whole concert. Afterwards, I went to Coffee Emporium for a late lunch before driving home.

Here's a little phone photo-log of my afternoon. It was very yucky out, and began snowing just as I got back home. 


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Today should be outing #6, but it is not to be, that is, it will be delayed a couple weeks, but hopefully not more. A sudden change in plans occurred, which I will talk about in the next post. 


My Bi-Weekly Cincinnati Outing: Report #4

I hope you enjoyed my little audio post. I'm going to do a better one, hopefully this evening, but for now, here is a long "dates with myself" entry, with a few links and photos for you to enjoy. There would be more photos, but my internet connection seems to feel about as well as I do just now. 

Two weeks ago I spent my afternoon at the Cincinnati Art Museum. I'd been there once or twice before, but not in nearly a year.

I have visited major art museums in Kansas City, Chicago, Detroit, New York, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia. They each have something special about them. In New York, in that massive old building, you see art you've heard about all your life. In Philadelphia you see what seems like a true richness of creativity. Lots of good examples of 20th century style; Post-Impressionism, Cubism, Abstract Expressionism, Color Field, etc. Detroit has some great sculpture . I remember least about Chicago but what I do remember is being completely immersed in culture. Pittsburgh is a city that is practically made of art and beauty amidst a certain amount of decay. I'd want to talk more about the contemporary art there and could write pages.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City is one of my favorite places to be out of everywhere I've been. It's beautiful, inside and out. There is a wealth of treasure there, literally, particularly the Imperial Chinese collection. And it's free, so you can wander in and out as you please, as you enjoy the complete outdoor setting, most especially in late Spring and early Autumn.

So for me, the Cincinnati Art Museum has a lot to measure up to. It does, you know, in one particular area of focus I'd never seen at another museum. That is local art, and in particular, the local art movement here in the 19th century. There was a thriving art culture here, you see, and the museum has great examples of it, but especially very good education on it. You really *learn* when you are at this museum, if you wish to.

Continue reading "My Bi-Weekly Cincinnati Outing: Report #4" »

My Bi-Weekly Cincinnati Outing: Report #3

Two weeks ago I went to Clifton to see what that's all about, and to see Amour. I'm really looking forward to going back there. The movie theater is pretty cool, there are many interesting restaurants around, and little shops to poke through. 

I'd been looking forward to seeing Amour for months, but then I kept putting it off because it looked so sad. But I decided I wanted to see it before the Academy Awards, so I went ahead, and I'm so glad I did. It's the best movie I've seen in quite a long time. 

Before the movie, it was hard to decide what to eat, but I ended up going pretty ordinary, to a place called Olives for their breakfast buffet. I had a Bloody Mary, and was entertained by people behind me having a very joyous birthday party. These were real friends enjoying each others' company. It was nice. And the food wasn't bad. I'll go back and try something from the bar, something from the regular menu. 

There's a nice park overlooking it all, and I drove up to it for a couple minutes. It will be very pretty in a few weeks. I'm going to add some links later, for now, a few pictures.  And I'll probably share about today's art museum outing tonight or tomorrow, instead of waiting two weeks. 


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