Saturday, April 26, 2008

a very short post in memorium...

Joe and Jo

10 years ago this week my dad died. this is a picture i snagged from my daughter's twitter icon.

my favorite things about that photo? the *ow-ie* on his knee. and the patriotic t-shirt he's wearing. and the serious expressions...and the quilt in the foreground, and the print of harold's on the wall, and the chair...

aw, fuck it. i like Everything about it.

i think that picture was taken on jo's birthday. about 15-16 years ago? at 6234 velasco. i think i still have that book, too.
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Saturday, April 19, 2008

saving a few more old family photos

it's been a rough day. thank god i have friends as supportive as harold and lara. i hope my kids have friends as true. that's an awful lot to ask...but at least i know they have each other. and that's even better. a true blessing...

peace and love to you and yours, samuel. i will miss you.


lara's been a BIG help, for days on end, salvaging, cleaning, pressing and scanning some keep-sakes. i'm kinda afraid to let her know just how many more hundreds there are to try to deal with.

one day at a time. one charred, waterlogged box at a time.

here are a few more. click to enlarge if you want...

my granny...

dad...can you believe they hand painted lipstick on him in the 2nd one? ahahahaha. (he was already good lookin' enough, don't ya think?)

more of my dad... (the 3rd one looks so much like my son sean it's almost scary.)

this one's pretty ffffunny. the note was written by joe. (my dad, the guy in the pic.)

mom and dad around the time they were first married.
oh, mary anne!!...such a sultry look!

that's all for now.
this last one is of my dad's relative's place in Truly, Texas.

meet the scarboroughs...

"Pain is like a fruit; God doesn’t let it grow on a branch too weak to support it."
(victor hugo, as translated by wendy in an email to me. )

peace, y'all, peace and love, sam.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

2 pics from the past

♫ ♫ listen, listen, listen... my heart's song ♫ ♫...
these won't mean anything to but a few, but they were brought to my attention tonight by a friend and they mean a whole hell of a lot to me...

i'm just *saving* pictures here on blogger as they come in.

that's all for now, folks.
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Friday, April 11, 2008

spiderweb 2.0

mom was funny today. again. and we went for a walk...

then i sat down and tried to do stuff on the computer. i failed. i'm frustrated.

can you say, "understatement"?

i hate being an incompetent geezer when it comes to that sort of thing.

i think i need a punching bag.

according to this maybe i'm supposed to feel better because i'm at least aware of my inabilities...well, fuck that shit.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

it's rebus time!

(don't laugh, but it took me *forever* to make that...), at mom's today their extracurricular project was a cooking session. and guess what they made?

that's right - PIZZA.

they made it with english muffins, just like you probably made it with your kids - or as a kid. mom was so impressed. she asked for the recipe right after they'd finished making it...duh. linda thought it was so cute that mom wanted the recipe she had to hug her. then she wrote it down for her.

(what linda isn't fully aware of is what a great cook mary anne was back in the day. tomorrow i'll be sure to go on about that. i think we may have found a genuine link to her past that could be exploited as a memory/interest booster.)

"i've never tasted such good pizza," she said.

of course she's had it at VT for a snack several times in the last year, but she's never had a hand in making it before. i wonder if she'll remember any of this tomorrow.

and then...we went to dinner.

see, they're trying to fatten up most of the alz folk and they do snack time immediately before meals pretty often. in fact, one of my favorite people there, Jim, has steadily dropped from 134 lbs to 114 just since december.
luckily mom didn't want hardly any of her dinner of pasta, bread stick and soup with ice cream for desert. i say luckily because she'd just eaten several *slices* of pizza and she definitely doesn't need to be fattened up. besides, i got to eat most of her dinner. and all of her ice cream. hah!

[oh & the rebus?
pete incaviglia, former o.s.u. and texas ranger great (no steroids, thank you very much) and pete rose, former cincinnati red great and all-time mlb hit leader (yeah, i know...but i still love the guy) = PETES.
(ok. the *UH* didn't work out so well.)


but you already knew that, didn't you.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

beware: talk of politics and war ahead...

notice: whenever i post about politics (rarely) i always tag it *hell.*

you can read the whole article, with links, about john mccain's misinformed notions on the recent 6 day battle in basra in particular, and on the iraq war in general, here. or read some frightening (to me) excerpts after the jump...

(by the way, that was fun googling for pics of wile e. coyote. i even found a silly game to play here. ahahahaha)


John McCain's public record suggests that he could well prolong the war for another century – not because he's the crazed militarist portrayed by Democrats, but through sheer inertia, bad judgment and blundering.

Too few Americans stopped to absorb the disastrous six-day battle of Basra that ended last week – a mini-Tet that belied the "success" of the surge. Even fewer noticed that the presumptive Republican nominee seemed at least as oblivious to what was going down as President Bush, who called Basra a "defining moment in the history of a free Iraq."

It was a defining moment all right. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's impulsive and ill-planned attempt to vanquish the militias in southern Iraq loyal to his Shiite rival, the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, was a failure that left Mr. al-Sadr more secure than before. The battle ended only when Mr. al-Maliki's own political minions sought a cease-fire.

Mr. McCain was just as wrong about Basra as he was in 2003, when he said the war would be "brief" and be paid for by Iraqi oil revenues. Or as he was in the 1990s, when he championed extravagant State Department funding for the war instigator Ahmad Chalabi, who'd already been branded untrustworthy by the CIA.

Mr. McCain told John King of CNN while in Baghdad last month that Mr. al-Sadr's "influence has been on the wane for a long time." When the battle ended last week, Mr. McCain said: "Apparently it was Sadr who asked for the cease-fire, declared a cease-fire. It wasn't Maliki. Very rarely do I see the winning side declare a cease-fire." At least the last of those sentences was accurate. It was indeed the losing side – Mr. al-Maliki's – that pleaded for the cease-fire.

Mr. McCain's bigger strategic picture, immutable no matter what happens on the ground, is foggier still. Like Mr. Bush, he keeps selling Iraq as the central front in the war on al-Qaeda. But al-Qaeda was not even a participant in the Basra battle, which was an eruption of a Shiite-vs.-Shiite civil war. (Al-Qaeda is busy enough in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the actual central front in the war on terror.)

Mr. McCain is also fond of portraying Mr. al-Maliki's "democracy" in Iraq as an essential bulwark against Iran. But the political coalition and militia propping up Mr. al-Maliki are even closer to Iran than the Sadrists. McClatchy Newspapers reported last week that the Maliki-Sadr cease-fire was not only brokered in Iran but by a general whose name is on the Treasury Department's terrorist list.

"We're succeeding," Mr.McCain said after his last trip to Iraq. "I don't care what anybody says." Again, it's the last sentence that's accurate.

–Excerpted from a piece by New York Times columnist Frank Rich and printed in this form in the Dallas Boring News...
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Monday, April 7, 2008

the wedding post...

many of my readers/cyberfriends are or were front line caregivers for a parent with dementia - or what is more commonly called alzheimer's disease. they are there in the trenches every day, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. (see sidebar for links to their blogs.) it's difficult for me to even imagine what they do for their loved ones. i'm a part timer. i may visit my mom once or twice a day. i may even miss a day... i can go on vacation... but they can't.

one of those cyberfriends recently had her 1st vacation in i don't know how many years and one of the highlights of that respite was being able to take a shower without worrying if her mom was gonna wander off or hurt herself in some way. can you even begin to imagine that? a simple, freaking, relaxed shower being a novelty because your responsibility for your mom or dad normally precludes such *extravagance?*

the picture to the right is in homage to chris, one of my cyber/caretaker friends who recently lost her beloved parents.

the rest of this post is directed to anyone who is currently going through the agonizing process of having to decide whether to continue the constant, loving, hands-on, day to day care in their own home; or to move their loved one to an alzheimer's care facility similar to the one my mom is so blessed to live in now.

robyn, i humbly dedicate the rest of this post to you and yours...

!- all week i've walked to mom's with scissors in my back pocket. i cut flowers on the way - irises, snapdragons, violets... i played hooky day before yesterday. why?
because i can? yes.
am i sorry? yes.
mom fell down that day on her way to the bathroom.
am i ashamed for not being there? yes.

no broken bones, thank god. just a little skin break on her forearm. the facility called my sister who lives 120 miles away to inform'll be a long while before i miss another day of visits, but she has constant, competent care where she lives. i'm not a doctor or a nurse or a physical therapist. i don't even have a phone. i think she's in better hands than mine and i'm grateful. (see below.)

...the flowers i bring are nice, but how do you full-timers bathe and feed and keep constant vigil day in and night out? you're amazing...

@- at my mom's care facility they take her to an interdenominational church service on sunday morning, a bible study group on monday afternoon, they help her bathe 3 times a week, feed her meals and snacks, wash her clothes and change her bed linens once a week, give her regular medical check ups and nurse her when needed. they watch old movies together...and lawrence welk and lucy... they play trivia games and are asked to tell and retell whatever they're still able to remember of their own histories. they have several group craft projects each week. they go on short walks if able. most importantly, the staff on the memory care unit is a very loving group of individuals.

#- one of the aides, opal, is getting married at the dallas arboretum and has invited mom and 2 or 3 other residents to be there. she says they're not going to be in the crowd, but right up front in a special place. she even had a discussion with them about what color her dress should be. mom said white or sky blue. mrs. braddick wants her to wear pink. opal has already decided on yellow i think, but she continues to engage them in the conversation which is clearly a self esteem booster for the ladies. i just hope they are still aware enough to go and enjoy it when the day finally comes. opal's waiting until september, when her son returns from 4 years in guess is not so hopeful for most of the ones who are now invited, but in the meantime it really means a lot to them.

$- opal's wedding reminds me of an email josephine sent me a few weeks back with a link to a "This American Life" radio show episode. the alzheimer's wedding party is a bittersweet tale. it's only the 1st nine minutes (the prologue and act I) and well worth your time. i hope you'll listen and i know you'll enjoy.

%- when i first heard about the above story i googled alzheimer wedding and found it to be a fairly common phenomenon. if you're interested in learning more about that particular type of therapy there are lots of newspaper articles to read on the web. here's a photo from one of them...

i feel fortunate that if she still has any marbles in will actually get to attend a real one. me? i'm prayin' for marbles.

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Thursday, April 3, 2008

work stuff

yesterday i went with harold to visit and photograph some of his fireplace carvings. at one point we passed a house where i had done some work years ago and i said, "pull in here." i knew the original homeowners no longer lived there, but there was one project i did there i'd never gotten a photo of. plus, i've since lost all of my digital copies of the rest.

i'm not exactly sure when it was i did this job. i do remember my son sean helping me lay the stone and brick patios and he was about 11 or 12 at the time, so i guess that puts it about 1995 or '96. i also remembered it being a job site with at least one example of every type of work i do: from the pedestrian tile, slate, brick and stone flatwork; to designing, building and installing mosaics; to designing and carving stone relief sculptures.

the original homeowners liked to travel and one of their interests was old scottish, irish and english castles. at one point in the project they decided they wanted the shower in their guesthouse to look like a castle! how cool is that? after a little (or a lot of) research of castle elements, this is what i came up with...

there wasn't much room to deal with so i had to keep it simple. the 8" x 8" rustic tile walls were meant to simulate heavy stone masonry walls. the arched *window* intended to stretch the space, is in the shape of the windows in one of their favorite castles. i don't remember now which one.

the italian glass, tile mosaic landscape looks pretty crude to me now. in fact, harold even said as much - that he didn't think it looked like my usual work. as i recall, my focus was on the colors rather than detail. there are probably 50-60 different blues, browns, golds, greens...i used to know how many, but don't remember now.

and there's something missing from the original installation: the bit of whimsy i normally include in some way in all of my work. in this case it was the sheep on the hillside, but someone had removed them.

you see, i'd gone to a local hobby shop and purchased seven HO-scale, plastic sheep. 6 white and one black. i'd sliced the backsides off with a blade and epoxied them to the tile. the homeowners loved it. when i asked the new owners about them, the wife looked perplexed, but the husband laughed and patted me on the back saying,"oh, i remember them. that was my favorite part! some guest must have removed them. would you like to find some more and get them back to grazing in my shower?"

would i!? HELL, yeah.

(he's also interested in seeing and finding a place for my original mock-up of the mosaic i did in his swimming pool. it's made of $450/square foot, real gold tile that the original owner decided against for aesthetic, not monetary, reasons, but in my opinion would have been a much more handsome finished product. the new guy agrees with me and who knows...maybe i'll get to redo it the way i thought it should have been done all along. suh-weet.)

the wreath is about 10-11 feet across, i think. it's an exact replica of a tiny (approx. 5" diam.)wrought iron detail on the iron gates at either end of the estate which was built in the 1920's. see what i mean about the contrast? even though the gold tile was nixed for being too *glitzy,* i think the darker contrast would be much more subtle and the gold would add a degree of sophistication rather than a gaudy quality., back to the *castle shower*...

this bench is made of tile that really looks like wood. i found this element in many of the pictures of castle interiors. placed in the stairwells usually, they were used to store weapons and food supplies in case of seige.

the photos we took of my stone carvings didn't turn out so well. when i go back i'll take some better ones and tell you a funny story that goes with them.
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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

taken for granite

ann mcdermott, an old friend, posted an excerpt on facebook from Ursula Le Guin's "The Wave in the Mind" which she describes as "a book of talks and essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination." ann went on to say, "It really struck a chord with me and really wanted to share."

and i, in turn, want to share it with you...

Being Taken for Granite

Sometimes I am taken for granite. Everybody is taken for granite sometimes but I am not in a mood for being fair to everybody. I am in a mood for being fair to me. I am taken for granite quite often, and this troubles and distresses me, because I am not granite. I am not sure what I am but I know it isn't granite. I have known some granite types, we all do: characters of stone, upright, immovable, unchangeable, opinions the general size shape and pliability of the Rocky Mountains, you have to quarry five years to chip out one little stony smile. That's fine, that's admirable, but it has nothing to do with me. Upright is fine, but downright is where I am, or downwrong. I am not granite and should not be taken for it. I am not flint or diamond or any of that great hard stuff. If I am stone, I am some kind of shoddy crumbly stuff like sandstone or serpentine, or maybe schist. Or not even stone but clay, or not even clay but mud. And I wish that those who take me for granite would once in a while treat me like mud.

Being mud is really different from being granite and should be treated differently. Mud lies around being wet and heavy and oozy and generative. Mud is underfoot. People make footprints in mud. As mud I accept feet. I accept weight. I try to be supportive, I like to be obliging. Those who take me for granite say this is not so but they haven't been looking where they put their feet. That's why the house is all dirty and tracked up.

Granite does not accept footprints. It refuses them. Granite makes pinnacles, and then people rope themselves together and put pins on their shoes and climb the pinnacles at great trouble, expense, and risk, and maybe they experience a great thrill, but the granite does not. Nothing whatever results and nothing whatever is changed.

Huge heavy things come and stand on granite and the granite just stays there and doesn't react and doesn't give way and doesn't adapt and doesn't oblige and when the huge heavy things walk away the granite is there just the same as it was before, just exactly the same, admirably. To change granite you have to blow it up. But when people walk on me you can see exactly where they put their feet, and when huge heavy things come and stand on me I yield and react and respond and give way and adapt and accept. No explosives are called for. No admiration is called for. I have my own nature and am true to it just as much as granite or even diamond is, but it is not a hard nature, or upstanding, or gemlike. You can't chip it. It's deeply impressionable. It's squashy.

Maybe the people who rope themselves together and the huge heavy things resent such adaptable and uncertain footing because it makes them feel insecure. Maybe they fear they might be sucked in and swallowed. But I am not interested in sucking and am not hungry. I am just mud. I yield. I do try to oblige. And so when the people and the huge heavy things walk away they are not changed, except their feet are muddy, but I am changed. I am still here and still mud, but all full of footprints and deep, deep holes and tracks and traces and changes. I have been changed. You change me. Do not take me for granite.

p.s. ann, thanks for sharing this and i don't really think you're old...
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