Friday, March 25, 2011

A Sad Anniversary: The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

Today is the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triangle_Shirtwaist_Factory_fire in Greenwich Village in New York City.

The building where the fire took place is now part of New York University; a plague commemorates the 146 victims, mostly young women--recent Jewish and Italian immigrants. This catastrophe is credited with leading to legislation requiring new factory safety legislation and the growth of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.

In 2011, many Republican politicians are demonizing unions, scapegoating them as the cause or symbol of our economic problems. They paint school teachers and government workers as overcompensated and greedy.

I have no illusions about unions--they can be as corrupt as any other organization that gains power. But we cannot succumb to the fallacy that deregulating business and industry--putting our well-being in the hands of business owners--is the answer to our economic woes. The short sighted pursuit of profit--even when couched in terms of increasing value for the shareholders--will not cure our problems. It can only lead to devastation of the environment and the ever increasing gap between the super-rich and the rest of the world population.

Too many workplaces around the world are subject to abuses that can lead to disasters similar to The Triangle Fire. The least that we can do is to stop the decimation of unions in our own country and give the working people a fighting chance.

Happy Anniversary Spike (one day late)



Jeff and I had both grown up with pets and wanted one of our own. We talked about it for a long time debating: cat vs. dog; walking a dog every day vs. litter boxes. Was it fair to have a dog in a two bedroom condo?

A stint watching Clyde Harold, a charismatic Maltese, helped us make up our minds. Our place was big enough for a dog; we didn't mind the daily walks.

Porthos, a beagle on the television show, Star Trek: Enterprise gave me the idea that a beagle would be a good choice. Shortly after that, I saw a flyer in the window of a neighborhood grocery store. A beagle needed a home; it was Spike.

Spike's first owner had been transferred to Georgia and left him with a co-worker. That co-worker, Sarah, was later transferred herself. She had two dogs and could only take one with her. She chose Leroy, the doberman-German shepherd mix that had lived with her for four years.

Sarah lived two blocks away from us. We walked over one day so we could meet Spike and Sarah could check us out. I remember she said something like, "If you want him..." She didn't even finish her sentence before Jeff said, "Of course we want him."

On Sunday March 24th, we went to pick him up. Sarah was waiting on the front lawn with Spike and his toys, dry food and bowls. She and I cried as she said goodbye and we took Spike to his new home.

It was a tough adjustment for Spike. Whenever he was left alone, he howled, scratched at the door and dug at the carpet. But he did make the adjustment to his new home.

That was nine years ago.

Some people say that Spike was lucky. It's true that no one could love him more than we do. But Jeff and I know that we are really the lucky ones.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Dog Park Friday

Today is the nicest day of the year to date; that is no hyperbole. With daylight savings time in effect, it's the first Dog Park Friday of 2011.

I'm not sure how long Dog Park Friday has been around; I'm guessing at least five years. I do remember who started it. Our friends, Jenn and John showed up one Friday of a holiday weekend with a cooler of cocktail fixings: cosmopolitans and apple martinis. After we made a loop around the park, we stopped and enjoyed drinks.

For the past few years, Dog Park Friday's been a gathering of people with dogs who meet in a certain spot at Taylor Farm dog park with beer and wine on Friday evenings. We relax and talk as our dogs relax, run and play. Sometimes we move on to dinner together.

We've created a new community; I'm happy to be a part of it.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy Half Way Day Jeff!

Several years ago Jeff and I spent our anniversary at Ortley Beach on the Jersey shore. As we headed out to dinner on Sunday night September 17th, we didn't know what we would find--many places had closed for the season. We just hoped for an open place with decent food.

We found much more in Lavallette--a bar/restaurant with a live band. We asked why the place was decorated with shamrocks. That's when we learned that our anniversary was the halfway day to St. Patrick's Day.

I love St. Patrick's Day and I love the concept of halfway day--it gives us an extra reason to celebrate.

Happy half way day, Jeff. I love you.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

20 Fun Things to Do

Listening to my Artist's Way tapes, I was reminded of this exercise: Name 20 fun things to do.

1. hiking
2. antiquing
3. going to craft shows
4. going to bookstores
5. going to museums and art galleries
6. traveling
7. walking
8. swimming
9. doing yoga
10. watching classic movies
11. dining al fresco with Spike
12. wine tastings
13. trying new restaurants
14. beer tastings
15. walking labyrinths
16. dancing
17. listening to live music
18. reading
19. going to crafts stores
20. going to retreats

This list is a source for artist's date ideas.

Weather Watching

I'm afraid I've become the stereotypical bore who talks about the weather all the time. It didn't happen overnight. For years my morning routine has included watching the weather channel before heading outside.

This winter has pushed me over the edge. It got too cold too soon in early December. Then the snow came--a major storm after Christmas was just the beginning.

The ground is mostly clear of snow now but small patches appear here and there. And large snow mounds are still piled in the corners of yards and parking lots.

In five short days--spring will arrive. That doesn't necessarily mean that we are done with cold and snow, but I'll take even a symbolic end to this relentless winter. Last Friday on our afternoon walk, Spike sat down on the grass to check things out--my personal harbinger of spring.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Five Words

I'm not sure where I saw this: describe yourself using five words:

woman
USian (thanks Shakesville for the term)
feminist
writer
wife

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Spring Forward -- A Poem

The government stole an hour from me
2 am Sunday morning
when all decent people are asleep
no witnesses

The government stole an hour from me
they don’t admit to stealing; they call it legislating
but the two aren’t mutually exclusive

The government stole an hour from me
they’ve got everyone in cahoots with them
big business, schools and the media
I can’t fight them all

The government stole an hour from me
they say they’ll give it back in October
But I want it now
Who knows?
In October, my time may be up

The Artist's Way--Revisited

In the ongoing cleaning--organizing--de-cluttering I've been doing since January, I came across cassette tapes from the Artist's Way week at Omega Institute about fifteen years ago. I've been listening to them in bits and pieces over the last few weeks while driving.

I've taken the Artist's Way workshop as a weekend, a five-day and a twelve-week course (the preferred method). I've also used the book on my own and I still write morning pages. Obviously, I like the Artist's Way.

But...

Many people report brilliant results from the process. Novels written; awards won. I do not.

While listening to the cassettes recently, I heard Mark Bryan say something like--for some people the Artist's Way is just about making more creative lives for themselves.

I do have a more creative life than I used to:

I write morning pages every day

I have two pieces in a published memoir anthology

I write this blog

I am ready to submit a piece

I call myself a writer without feeling odd about it

I make artist trading cards and collages; I have an art journal

I notice little things more that make me happy: colors in the sky, full moons, flowers, fall leaves, winter branches outlined across the sky.

The last item sounds kind of silly and small, but it's big--a change of outlook. I also have to credit my daily walks with Spike for helping me to notice things more--to be more in the moment.

In her workshops, Julia Cameron talks about making small changes. I'll keep going down that trail.


Real Gone With The Wind: Lucy Writes A Novel

Hallmark Channel is running a I Love Lucy marathon including one of my favorites, Lucy Writes A Novel.

I live in fear that I will share Lucy's fate: excerpts from my novel included in a textbook about how to write a novel--heading up the chapter entitled "Don't Let This Happen To You."

Monday, March 7, 2011

Not Posting

I haven't done much posting lately. There have been a number of reasons.

I've been missing my father especially after seeing cousins from his side of the family at Barbara's surprise party. My father was the last survivor of his immediate family; his three sisters predeceased him by decades. My brother and I are the only ones among those cousins that have even one parent alive.

I've also been doing work to settle the estate, trying to meet a deadline of March 31st to avoid another fiscal year. It's brought up a lot of the anger and frustration that I had repressed.

The current political atmosphere depresses and angers me--i.e. the right wing attacks on Planned Parenthood and other "spending cuts" that won't even make a mark on our deficit. Hey, let's cut funding for poor women to get pap smears but continue important programs such as funding a NASCAR race car.

Thirty years ago I was a volunteer on John Anderson's campaign for President. He had been a Republican congressman before Republicans became synonymous with anti-women positions. I remember telling another volunteer that I thought the right wing Republicans wanted to get rid of birth control. She thought I was overreacting.

I'm sorry to say that I was right. It is frightening. Forced birth is frightening. The issue is rarely framed in those terms: "Do you favor forcing women to risk their lives to give birth to children they don't want?" Instead the question is, "Do you favor regulation of abortion?" Of course. Who wants unlicensed people performing abortions in unclean conditions.


***

I saved but didn't publish this post for a few days. I didn't even come back to this site. I haven't worked through these issues. Unfortunately there's been more bad political, economical and natural disaster news. It can be overwhelming. But I can't let it overwhelm me.