Monday, September 19, 2016

The Hyannisport Manatee

A couple of days ago when I went for a walk on my favorite lesser known beach, I met a man  coming from the other end of the beach who told me there was a manatee -- it was up where "that last group of people" were.  I started walking much faster than usual but it was not to be seen by me --
however a small group of  boats were gathered in an area some distance out. I even saw a kayaker paddling in that direction so I believed the man had told me the truth but the manatee was happier far enough from shore not to be visible expect by boat and I was not sure the boaters saw him either ... although I don't know.  This was the second wayward manatee, so far as I know (I don't read the local paper athough I do hear local news on the radio) this summer.  And I heard that a year or two ago another manatee was in our waters, was captured by the appropriate rescue organization and was put into a tanker truck and sent back to Florida. Except that unfortunate beast died somewhere on the way.

I looked up pictures and some information about them -- I've never actually seen one -- and I wrote a somewhat silly little poem but I dis try to make a point about the changing climate and that it is messing up the lives of a great many kinds of animals -- also birds and, of course, quite a lot of humans as well.  Here is the poem.

The Hyannisport Manatee

He-she-it is the second this summer,
lost, paddling through oddly warm waters,
— how long can a manatee swim free
out in the depths of the sea?
Poor manatee hasn’t a cute wrinkle
on his baking-potato-like body
and yet you can’t help feeling sorry
for the critter from Okefenokee.

A year or two ago kind locals rescued another
—for all we know it could have been this one’s brother.
They put him-her-it in a big tanker truck
and headed down to Florida. But bad luck!
He-she-it gave up the fight, north of Georgia.
one sloshing nasty bumpy night.
Will this one face a similar plight?

What to do when the climate is so muddled
animal instincts become befuddled?
Take pity on them and try to rescue?  Yes!
Shouldn’t we announce loud and clear
climate change happens everywhere, even here?
What about TV news?  Well, unfortunately
nothing is photogenic about a manatee.
not a make-over candidate is it/he/she.
Anti-ugliness discrimination needs a  mascot.
All of those in favor of a manatee, please shout
“lost and loveless manatee, you are me.”

(postscript) Stanley Kunitz wrote a very, very fine poem called "The Wellfleet Whale" quite a few years ago. I've heard it called one of the ten greatest American poems.  I wouldn't presume to put any of my writing in the same category as Kunitz, but the sound of my title echoes his.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Sullly, the film

Sully is Clint Eastwood's latest bio-pic -- the story of Captain, Chesley Sullenberger, "Sully" who landed an Aeirbus  plane with 156 people aboard in the Hudson River one frigid winter day when they ran into a flock of geese that knocked out both engines on the plane.  This is a story close to my heart because I lived only a few blocks from where the plane went down although I knew nothing about it until evening news.

As some fictional news reporter says at one point in the film, "It is wonderful to have a New York story about airplanes where no one is hurt.  It is a hero story, Sully most of all, the co-pilot also, and, as Sully says at the end of the movie, all the rescue personnel who came to the aid of those passengers who jumped out of the plane, onto rafts, or into the water that day in January which was -- and I remember this -- frigid. The air temperature was not much above freezing and the water was cold enough to cause hypothermia in a very short time. Yet, within 24 minutes everyone was rescued.

Much of the movie's tension was about the hearings held by the Airbus insurance company trying to prove that the plane could have been landed in either of the three nearby airports without damage to the plane.  I have a deep, deep hatred for insurance companies and the personnel were beautifully played and written.

Meanwhile Tom Hanks was a very fine Sully -- I have a picture of the actual man in my mind, slenderer, less bulky but in the hands of a very good and competent actor like Hanks I willingly  suspended disbelief.  It is a "feel good" movie and all the better because in essence (despite however the scriptwriter punched up the struggle for truth, it leave the viewer with a lump in the throat and a warm and fuzzy feeling around the heart.  Thank you. Mr. Eastwood!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Haunting news photo

This photo of an injured child from a bombing in a Middle Eastern city has been haunting me.  It is not quite as painful as the famous Viet Nam war photo of the naked little girl who had been burned with napalm -- but is there any comparison when children are badly hurt by war?  Surely it must make readers of the NYTimes stop and think about the victims of this horror about which we read nearly every day.  Here is a small child -- looking utterly numb, time has stopped for him, he may not know how he got to sit on the orange chair. We cannot imagine either.  He was doing something normal, probably with a trusted adult when there was a noise ... a noise that stopped time and then.... we don't know.  We hope he will forget ... probably he will forget but his life has been changed forever.  Possibly his mind has been changed forever.

We sitting in our comfortable chairs reading the newspaper or looking at the computer cannot imagine what has happened to him... we don't want to. He is half the world away ... but we see children his size, his age around us and we cannot begin to imagine what it would be like if a bomb went off just then ... This happens too, too often in too, too many places in the world, every day.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Happy Birthday American National Parks

A peaceful moment inYellowstone National Park, Leslie and I--we were about to leave Yellowstone and all the magnificent bison and elk and discover the sublime Grant Tetons.

Today is the 100th aniversary of the establishment of the National Park system.  I have not seen enough national parks yet, they are wonderful places.  Yellowstone was all I expected but with fewer bears than I'd been led to beleive. The Tetons were the most perfect mountains I've ever seen and I've seen mountains on five continents, many "grander" but the Tetons reflected in the lake as we drove south from Yellowstone were stunningly beautiful.  I've seen Yosemite and Bandolier, Acadia  and a tiny bit of the Smoky Mountans - not  nearly enough. Grand Canyon is conspicuously missing so far and Glacier  and then there's Denali, a park to dream about.

Nicholas Kristof in an editorial essay in Sunday's NYTimes writes of the treatsure of the parks. He mentions that, like so many of the things people of America value, (education, arts, music..) the Parks' budget is constantly cut -- a foolish cut. When trails and roads need repair there is not enough money so they are allowed to disintegrate until repairing them may require entirely new trails which will cost far more. 

Out little writing group had chosen national parks as the theme for today's writing. Everyone had experiences with one or many parks, warm memories, and in the case of Everglades, unhappy memories.  I have found times in parks preciously refreshing whether sitting on a rail fence beside a beautiful lake, or scrambling up a trail on Acadia mountain, gazing at the truly blue haze in the Smokies. Thank you, Teddy Roosevelt, John Muir and the others who gave us these treasures.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Go see Florence Foster Jenkins !

This photo from the film Florence Foster Jenkins, is Meryl Streep murdering the Queen of the Night aria from Mozart's The Magic Flute when she sang at Ca rnegie Half.

The eponyous movie is essentially a bio-pic  about a rich New Yorker, her loving husband  (who nevertheless and for good reason, has a separate life) and a pianist who is hired to perform with her. She has a god-awful voice, is  terminally ill and is protected by her devoted husband.  So much about the movie is hilarious, so much is actually true, so much it is warm and human and touching, you can't help having a wonderful time while watching three perfectly cast actors (Streep, Hugh Grant as her husband and a pianist, unknown actor, Simon Helberb) as well as director Stephen Frear move this story which is both hilarious and touching from beginning to end.  It's a movie to  see with friends and to talk about over wine and nibbles later on. Streep's final line, "they said I couldn't sing, but they can't said I didn't sing," puts all the uptight audience, who laughed and laughed (as I did) in their place. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Andy Warhol Inspiration

I made this Andy Warhol inspired quilt a few weeks ago.  I wanted to experiment with using ModPodge Transfer medium so I could "print" (really copy) a photo onto fabrics of various colors. I found it workable although I was not happy with everything about how the pictures turned out.

This is the simplest of quilts. Each square was printed individually, I sewed them together, added a layer of fleee as "batting" and a piece of fabric for the back. I sewed it together "pillowcase" fashion and did a narrow row of sewing around the edges.  I have yet to add a  three inch sleeve for hanging to the back.  I think if Andy Warhol were alive today he would find Hillary just as worthy of his multi-picture treatment as ever were Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor and far more inspiring than Chairman Mao.

I showed it to a group this morning and one woman who will be volunteering at the local Democratic Party office suggested I make another one or two that could be displayed at the office.  She suggested the simple little quilt could be sold with the proceeds largely going to  presidential campaign. Fine with me, I will make another couple in the next week and let her take them there.  I am happy to donate that much of my time and my quilting ability to what I hope will be the election of the first woman President of the USA. 

I am of the generation of  (formerly) young women who were enlightened and inspired by The Feminine Mystique, by the wave of feminists that immediately followed.  I think it's way past time for us to have a woman in the White House and it's clear to me that Hillary has the background, the smarts, the prestige in the international community to be the best President we could possibly elect at this time in our very needy history. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Cartoon I'd love to show

I'm afraid it would be infringing on a copyright of cartoonist Patrick Chippatte to show his cartoon here:  I believe he drew it for either the NY Times of for the New Yorker.  It struck me as especially timely  -- and scary. It shows Trump sitting under the Presidential seal with a mallet in his hand and on the desk two pegs he can hit with the mallet,  One says "Twitter" the other says "Nuke."

I read the article  in the current (July 25)  New Yorker magazine which is an interview with Tony Schwartz by Jane Mayer. Schwartz was the ghost writer of "The Art of the Deal" the hugely successful book about Trump  that lead to his TV show, The Apprentice, and which, Schwartz feels, with much guilt and grief, is adding credence to Trump's bid  for the presidency.  In the interview Schwartz specifically refers to his fear of nuclear disaster if Trump ever has access to the "code" (or whatever it is that's needed -- the red telephone?) to launch a nuclear bomb.

As it happened Schwartz was pretty good deal maker too and got a very good agreement on his pay for ghost writing (Trump wrote not a word, he says). He also bargained down brilliantly when Trump wanted him to pay have the cost of a lavish book launch. He is now giving all proceeds from his book (it put him on Easy Street back then), to charities Trump opposes (mostly having to do with immigration).  Schwartz' personal read on Trump, and his story of the way he had to essentially invent a likeable person is enlightening. His remorse is well earned and sounds honest.

The Armageddon idea is very alive and well among younger people. I think most older people think a great deal less about nuclear disaster. I know it has not been on my mind. Much as I disliked the Bush adiministration I never feared GWB would, in a spontaneous moment of irk, anger, bully-impulse, spite or desire to display the extent of his power, launch a nuclear weapon. The more I find out about Trump's infantile reactions (see and hear them) the more frightening this vision becomes.