Monday, August 30, 2010

Byron, Blues and Beer

On my refrigerator, among the photos, appointment cards and assorted magnets, hangs a letter from the current powers that be of our little town that, in a nutshell (apropos), fires me and Moondoggy from a decade long volunteer job.  That job?  Selling beer at Byronfest, our 3 day festival that ostensibly celebrates and showcases the businesses of our town and the kindness of our citizens.  Welcome to Byron, enjoy your weekend and leave LOTS of money.  And so, the powers that be, found they were losing money at the beer gardens and decided the best thing to do was FIRE all of their volunteers.  That's right,  I was fired from a volunteer position.  Does it get more pathetic than that?

Ok.  There is always an upside to the shamed.  What that did for me was release me from the obligation of having to schlepp my ass uptown, wear a ridiculous t-shirt uniform that I usually altered somehow, spend loads of money on local food that I would prefer to eat in a restaurant anyway, fight crowds of people milling about between concert stages, and lose my voice and my hearing trying to socialize and catch-up with people while yelling over the conglomeration of three concert stages with vastly different genres of music in a 1 block area.  I'm not bitter - I'm just old.

However, this past weekend, there was a shiny, brand new festival - 12 hours of Blues downtown.  One stage, all Blues, all day.  No yelling over music, well behaved mellow people, and enough shade so as not to damage my already sun dried skin.  Food was sponsored by local eateries and there were three beer stations that sold bottled beer  for a cheaper price than Byronfest.  I don't know who was contracted to sell the beer but I can tell you this. . . 3 times the cute little girl with the big gravity defying tata's and the interesting slits cut in her t-shirt forgot to charge us.  And did she not realize what the 50 something turned twelve year old men were doing when they requested she dip down deep into the cooler to get the coldest beer?  I wonder what her pouty lips will look like when she gets her letter?

She will be getting a letter, right?  

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Life's a Beach

I recently returned from the best vacation spot I have ever known.  The beach.  Not a drinkable blue Caribbean beach, or a sugar white sand Florida beach or even a palm tree dotted Hawaiian beach.  My beach, the beach to which I have faithfully always returned is Sandbridge in the southernmost coastal tip of Virginia.  I've been going there since I was 8 years old, sharing a week with 4 other girls, all of whom are as close as sisters, and our parents.

This year, my father celebrated his 75th birthday by inviting extended family as well as his own childhood friends to stay in a mammoth house on the beach.  What began in 1968 as 4 adults and 5 girls has, over the years ballooned into Twenty-two what with spouses and children and all.  That plus the additional family and friends turned into thirty-three this summer; an interesting mix of ages, personalities and politics.

Politics.  Let's just say that a lot of "tea" seemed the popular topic.  You'd recognize me at these points in the day because I was the one trying to bury myself in the sand.  No, my idea of vacation includes very little political brain exercise - especially when the topic is Newt (For which my father proudly shares his nickname) Gingerich.  The only Ginger rich things I was interested in was the delectable bread that one of the guests brought with her ( 12 loaves!)

Our oldest guest was hovering around 80 years old while the youngest, a set of twins were going to be 8 years old soon.  It is safe to say that in our house the majority of guests were mid 70's.  This house had a pool which, for hardy beach girls like myself, is a whimps way to swim.  I mean where is the challenge in a pool?  There are no waves to negotiate, no jellyfish to avoid, crabs to step on or dolphins to chase (nor are there any cute boys to discover, oogle and fantasize about.)  On the first morning at the beach, one of the young twins stood by the pool gate shaking his head.  "Why do we have a pool at the beach?" he asked.  I had to tell him the truth, "It's for the old people.  This house is FULL of old people and you know what THAT means."  He dramatically rolled his eyes and replied, "I sure do!  It means I havta stay off their lawns!"

Considering the political climate of the group we were spending the week with, I think the 8 year olds advice was probably the wisest.

Monday, August 9, 2010

What I Want To Do When I Grow Up

When I was younger and people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I often answered, "An artist."  That response was often met with wane smiles and dubious eyes as I showed my drawings.  Because really, I know they were thinking, "Honey, it's a nice picture but not GREAT and besides, NO ONE makes a living as an artist."

Well excuse me while I blow some big wet raspberries in their general direction.  Some people do make a living as artists and I happen to be related to one.  So HA!   Aunt Lori entered my world sometime between my 10th and 11th birthdays.  I'm not sure how they met or where they met but I do know that Lori Arthur married my very cool bachelor uncle Bill in Las Vegas.  I know this because somewhere in a box I have some Kodak pictures of the two of them in the Vegas chapel.  I knew Lori was going to be cool because she wore a blue mini-dress, but more important, she liked to paint.  And, ironically, I think that is when I decided I wanted to be an artist.

And I took art classes, studied different mediums and ultimately discovered that my need for immediate gratification and my compunctity(no, it's not a real word but it just felt write when I typed it) to wholly consume every project to the exclusion of everything else rendered me hurried, half assed and just not very good.  Thankfully, my creative energies redirected themselves into words which makes a lot of sense for me since words are quickly consumed by the brain and then both the writer and the reader move on and there are no discarded watercolors, acryllics or pencil drawings left in the wake. 

Anything I have created is elementary compared to my Aunt Lori's work.  Her talent and skill have become more pronounced and precise in the years since I have known her (I know that sounds like it is because of me and as much as I would like to take credit it really only has to do with how long I have known her.)  My family has been both proud recipients as well as purchasers of many of her pieces.  I have long joked that my house could actually be considered Quarton Gallery East since she is a lifelong California girl who rarely comes back across the country.  But it's true.  Currently I have 6  Quarton pieces hanging in my little house with several others stored in the basement because even if they don't fit in this house, I intend to bring them out west.  She is that good.  So accomplished is she that I implore you to visit her website - especially if you are in the market for artwork.

I also have a friend who recently has been doing some incredible "upcycling" of furniture and decor with her artistic talents.  When I knew her in my youth, I had no idea that she any interest in art at all.  If I had, I am sure we would have been the best of friends and she might have shirked that uber popular crowd she hung out with in favor of sitting in the art room with me.  But, as luck would have it, when we reconnected last year (and a good 35 years after our social groups were formed) we really connected.  She has this beautiful, genuine outlook and I believe that is the key to her artistic success.  I ask you to visit her

As for me?  Yeah, I still have the art bug but I mostly use it as an inspiration for writing.  You should see what inspired this article.  On second thought, maybe not.  However, if you are still looking for a website to visit, visit mine!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Upside of Normal

There was an episode of "Happy Days" back in the 70s where Fonzie took a job driving an ice cream truck.  Richie asks Fonzie how the job is going and Fonzie replies, "Man it's frustrating.  I get the truck up to 70mph and I havta stop for some kid wavin' a dime!"  That's kind of how I feel.

It seems I grow bones in places they don't belong.  It started in my knee when I was 44 - they called it a 'Loose Body," which, to me, conjures up all kinds of pictures - none of which have to do with the 1 cm bone fragment that grew between the bones that make up the knee rendering me unable to walk.  A simple surgery later, a little physical therapy and I was back to normal.

Normal is a relative term.  Same leg, different joint.  When I was 46, my Achilles tendon, like a fraying rope, began to unravel as it rubbed against a bone the began growing out of the back of my heel.  A not so simple surgery later that involved shaving bones, releasing and re-attaching my achilles with fancy hardware and 3 months of crutches, and an extended relationship with my very handsome physical therapist and I was on my way back to normal.

I just turned 49.   I now understand that "normal" means to expect another bone to grow.  And it has.  This time between the joints that connect my ankle to my foot.  My MO is to allow it to annoy me, push through the pain and wait for it to become unbearable.  It became unbearable the day I decided to run across the highway before the next wave of traffic barreled through - the unbearable part occurring when I was about half way across.

The solution?  Another lovely surgery, 3 weeks no weight bearing, casted.  I need to go dig out my crutches. . .again.

On the upside, I get to go visit my favorite physical therapist.  He will be happy to see me, he will massage my feet,  and I might even develop another crush on him, unless he has finally gotten that restraining order against me.

Then, back to normal.