Monday, March 30, 2009

K is for Kisses and Kites

Mrs. Nesbitt's ABC Wednesday Round 4 has reached the letter K. For links to participating blogs, click on banner or above link.

We have been having trouble with our internet access, so forgive me if I make fewer comments than usual. I will rush through to view as many posts as I can get to before our server crashes again...

Also in the interest of haste, I just grabbed some photos from my archives: K is for Kiss, and K is for Kites - two of my favorite things. None of these pics have been posted before, although the first is taken just a few minutes after a similar one that I used for a story that I posted a while back.

The above photo was taken at the wedding
of Daria and Andy Bishop way back in 1991.

And this kiss is being given to great-grandson Jon
by his mother, Josie Andersen

And now for the Kites

This dragon kite was photographed by
Josie or Charlie Andersen on a beach expedition.

And finally one that I photographed
at the Berkeley
Kite Festival.

Monday, March 23, 2009

J is for Jungle Gym

Just in time to link to Mrs. Nesbitt's
ABC Wednesday Round 4
and participating blogs.

uniors, get lost! This playground in Oxford Circle Park, Davis, California, is strictly for adults! These Jungle Gym acrobats are my grandchildren, who were there at dusk one afternoon last January and stayed until after dark. Credit the photos of Myrtle (27 year old archeologist) to her brother, Byron Shock (35-year-old PhD. in artificial intelligence), and credit the photos of Byron to Myrtle Shock. As you can see, they are Jumping with Joy!

Here you can see the intricacy of the strong
ropes designed to fit adult sizes and weights.

Myrtle at apex of complex.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Where I Come From

The Sunday Scribblings prompt is "I come from..." Follow link to participating blogs for some fascinating entries.

Having been born in 1921, I come from the first quarter of the twentieth century, when our family car was a Model T that Daddy had to crank to get started. The place that I was born was the Alta Bates Sanitarium in Berkeley, California, then a single building, now a gigantic hospital complex that occupies several blocks. Fortunately the family into which I was born offered all the love and security that anyone could ask.

Allen Sterling holding Allen Sterling Jr.
Pearl Sterling and Phyllis (me)

It was only much later that Berkeley became known as Bezerkeley, although there was enough bizarre behavior even then to merit the name - for instance, the Boyntons, who lived in a replica of a Greek temple without walls except for sheets hung to hide their more intimate activities. Every morning Mr. Boynton would leave in his business suit, fedora on his head, briefcase in hand, and take the #7 streetcar down the hill to his business day while his wife wore her toga and his children carried bag lunches of nuts and dates to school, where they purportedly exchanged them for roast beef sandwiches.

In my public primary school the girls were taught scarf dances on the lawn with filmy lengths of pastel voile held at the corners by four girls. I still remember the tickling of grass on my bare feet.

What does this have to do with where I come from mentally or psychologically? Otto and I have lived in many countries, but since 1947, when Otto accepted a position at the University of California, Berkeley has been home base (although a little bit of our hearts are always in Brazil).

We have lived through the movements that have swept Berkeley through the decades, from the decorous ‘50s through the turbulent ‘60s and ‘70s, and have lent our whole-hearted support to many of them, joining in protesting the Vietnam war, housing hippies and manning switchboards to acquire needed services for them - even doing some dumpster-diving to procure soup ingredients for feeding the hungry on weekends when other food services were not available.

We were already pacifists, but much of the idealism of the sixties rubbed off on us. In the ‘70s and ‘80s Berkeley tried to pick up the pieces for the Vietnam veterans who became the new street people, injured in mind or body, addicted to drugs or alcohol to kill the pain.

Where does this leave me? I really couldn’t say. In front of the computer, I guess, picking and choosing a few words to describe 87 years of living. And still in love with “Bezerkeley.”

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I is for instruments

Mrs. Nesbitt's ABC Wednesday Round 4 has reached the letter I. To enjoy the entries of other participants, click on link above or on the banner at left.

Whenever the our family gets together, their musical instruments come with them, or, if for some reason they are left behind, others will be provided.

L to R: Kristin with violin, Anna with violin,
son Otto with Colin Dipper concertina.
Kristin son Otto and granddaughter Anna Smith are here on the ferry to Seattle as they drove us from Port Townsend to SEATAC a few days after Christmas. As usual, their instruments were attached to them like extra appendages, and as soon we ascended to the passenger deck, they began to play. In background one of many of the delighted passengers dances his child to the rollicking fiddle tunes or Christmas carols. Here the musicians are in fiddle mode, but all are accomplished violinists. Same instruments, different styles. Kristin is concert master of the Port Townsend symphony where Otto has played a concertina concerto.

For Christmas granddaughter Anna received an accordion to add to her other musical instruments - although the violin is still her instrument of choice.

At family reunions those without their own instruments are provided with some other music maker.

At our first family reunion in 1991, Kristin Smith, Lenore Vanderkooi, David Vanerkooi, and Elnor Ragan, all professional musicians, are an accomplished string quartet. (relationships to us: Kristin is son Otto's wife, Elnor Ragan was husband Otto's sister, Lenore Vanderkooi is her daughter and David is Lenore's husband).

Son Stan and his wife Dianne flew out to visit us in early December, and here Stan plays my Gurian guitar. Otto and I tend to collect guitars. Stan is the one who found husband Otto's rare 1850 New York Martin guitar in a "Ladies' " size that has both beautiful tone and surprising volume.

In Ontario, Oregon, at my daughter's house at another Christmas, Grandchildren Cedric and and Myrtle Shock play carols on violin and piano.

And at a musical gathering of the family at grandson Joe's home in Port Hadlock, great-grandson Ocean brings out his very own instrument (we start them early!).

This photo at our home shows son Otto's delight as he plays our Mathushek grand piano.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Dear Past Me, Dear Future Me

The Sunday Scribblings prompt is
"Dear Past Me, Dear Future Me."

Dear three-year-old Me,
You thought the world would last forever, didn’t you? You know that you yourself have lived forever, and in a way you are right. The true measure of objective time is your own lifetime. Santa Claus has visited you at least once (that you can remember), and he probably will come again sometime, you think. Now it is enough to sit on top of the woodpile in the warm sun, smelling green grass and creosote, listening to the buzz of bees.

Dear nine-year-old Me,
What a baby you were then! Santa Claus comes every year, now, about one-ninth of a lifetime apart. You have discovered books and reading, and you are torn between going down the street to play with Barbara and Warren or curling up with a volume of Compton’s Pictured Encyclopedia which Mama ordered from the door-to-door salesman (on the installment plan). You have worn out the page that has a picture of the planet, Mars, where you intend to go someday. Nights full of stars fill you with a sense of mystery. You intend to be an astronomer or a patriot.
Since you skipped a grade in school, you are studying fifth-grade American history, and you intend to be Nathan Hale, saying, “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country.” Maybe you will be a soldier. Intellectually you know that death is final, but your body still knows that it will live forever.

Dear twenty-year old Me,
Here you are on the way to marry Otto, packed with your brother in the back seat of Miles, the Chrysler, on the way to Stillwater, Oklahoma. You cross the Colorado River by moonlight, and you can’t believe the coincidence as you sing, “When there’s moonlight on the river Colorado, I’ll be coming back, sweetheart, to you.” You long ago gave up any idea of being a soldier. It was when you were told that soldiers didn’t just die for their country, they had to kill for it too.
Last year at Stanford you helped found the Palo Alto Peace Committee. Someday in the future you think you will be an artist - or a poet - or a psychologist.
Marrying Otto will prove to be the wisest thing you will ever do.

Dear future Me,
Now that I have almost reached the age of 88 years, and still sentenced to that objective sense of having lived forever, the years flip past at an accelerating rate, and I hardly put away the Christmas decorations from one year until it is time to take them out again. So I will extrapolate, dear future Me, and tell you that every year will be shorter than the one before. There will be an increasing dread hanging over every day of sparkling world and loving marriage. It will not be because you fear your own death (and you find nothing fearsome about it ) but that it is inevitable that Otto and you will be separated sometime soon by death. You can’t imagine a world without Otto. Maybe it is best expressed by one of my poems that I have posted before:

The Old Lovers
Asleep, their bodies rest as spoon to spoon
or else are pressed together spine to spine.
One of them dreams a night of summer moon
when firm young bodies meet and intertwine.

One dreams they climb a trail in blazing noon,
leap boulders, savor scent of fir or pine,
gaze down on unknown lands they’ll travel soon,
their years before them in an endless line.

They dream apart, but each dreams they’re together.
They drowse then turn and waken face to face,
illusion’s threads unravelling seam by seam.
They touch the dear soft flesh of one another
then almost desperately the two embrace
fearing that one might soon hold only dream.

Monday, March 9, 2009

H is for Houses on a Hill

Mrs. Nesbitt's ABC Wednesday Round 4 has reached the letter H. To link to other participating blogs click on above link or on banner.

My hill, that is. The houses shown below are located a few houses down the street from me, photographed one day when I was out with my digital camera aiming it at everything in sight. I have not been able to do that for a while, hence my reliance on my archives. The fact is that I have been housebound for health reasons.

I'm happy I don't have to climb these stairs
which are on the other, or high, side of the street!

Be sure to enlarge these pics.

Here's one you must be sure to enlarge!

I photographed it from a neighbor's driveway on the lower side of the street. Look at the lower left edge of the picture to see the rooftop of a house far down the hill, partially obscured by what, at first glance, seems to a blur, but which is actually a cluster of bare-branched trees not yet leafed out for spring.

I also live on the lower side of the street and need only descend fourteen steps from the sidewalk to arrive at my front door and the main floor of the house. The hillside still continues sharply downward so that there is another lower floor at the back, as well as a floor above the main floor.

I apologize to all my good friends on ABC Wednesday and Sunday Scribblings for getting around to so few comments.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

G is for Glass

Mrs. Nesbitt's ABC Wednesday Round 4 is at the letter G. For links to participating blogs, click on either the link above or the banner to the left.

Otto is a great bargain hunter at thrift stores, and he recently came home with these two stained and leaded glass light fixtures. He installed the one above in our bedroom, where it is the first thing I see in the morning. It makes for a cheerful awakening! The one below is in our front hall, where it adds a bit more drama to the dark overheed beams and the wrought iron railings on the tiled stairs.

The leaded glass hanging above is one I designed and crafted, not realizing that, in my 1930s California-Spanish style house, that there was no single large expanse of window glass against which I could hang it. To be sure, we have whole walls of windows looking out at the views, but they are subdivided into smaller individual panes. All windows that open are casement windows opening outward. This hanging - which I call "The Intrusion of Natural Forms into a Geometric Environment" - is much more effective with light shining through it, but photographs in natural light emphasize unduly the background of window frame. Hence the use of flash and the bright white reflection of it.