30 September 2016

Glass Ceilings

Last weekend, there was a book festival in my town. It's a great event - lots and LOTS of authors, each at a smallish table with a big pile of books, chatting and signing, signing and chatting. There were food trucks doling out wood fired pizzas and artisanal grilled cheese, and portable mini-golf for toddlers, and lots of friends hauling boxes and running cash registers and ferrying cups of tea to parched chatty authors.

I bought a bunch of books: a September head start on my Christmas shopping, and a baby present for Flutter's baby. There is something wonderful about buying a goofy pull-tab book and getting it signed "Dear Baby Rob" by Matthew van Fleet himself.

The authors cover a wide spectrum - one lives in our town and has written one book, others have been writing tons of books over years and years. I had a copy of Vicki Cobb's Science Experiments You Can Eat when I was in middle school; Vicki Cobb was there with it and lots of other books.

Jane Yolen was there too. She's written a pile of books, all over the map. I'm kind of fond of Bad Girls, because I have a subversive streak and I am working hard on teaching my twelve year old to stand up for herself, to recognize sexist behavior, to be no shrinking violet.

But the sweetest part of the day? Jane Yolen gave a copy of a poem to the force-of-nature organizer of the event, who happens to be the number one rabble rouser in support of Hillary Clinton in our town, and asked that the poem get to Secretary Clinton. It's a terrific little poem:

HC: A Modern Ode

She stands there,
hammer in hand
staring at the ceiling,
measuring with her careful eye,
finding just the right spot
to ding it down.
No wasted effort,
no casual boast,
the eye not the I.
A flick of the wrist,
a perfect strike.
The suffragettes smile
in their iron cradles.
Shards of glass
fall around us
like the Perseid stars.

–©2016 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

I've given a copy to my little unshrinking violet, because glass ceiling? Here we come.

21 September 2016

In Which My Mother Eats An Apple

Today would have been my mother's 81st birthday. Would have been.

Since she's no longer here to celebrate with nine times nine candles, I have to remember her here, eating an apple, sometime in the 1950s, when she was in college.

I've always liked this picture - the red in the foliage, the red apple, the red red lips, the red fingernails. The grey of the wood fence / rock wall matching the grey sweater. The oh so turned up jeans. Jeans! The dorky socks. The bottle of wine, clutched in her hand, the open brown bag it came from.

Who took the picture? Is it the photographer's shadow at the lower right? What kind of shoes is she wearing? Where are they?

Happy birthday, Moky. I'm sorry you can't tell me the answers to all of these questions.

06 September 2016

The Once Good Grey Lady, or, here comes USA Today

I am annoyed at my newspaper of record. I have been reading the New York Times since I was a child. I remember the ENORMOUS headline when Nixon resigned. I remember when they went from 8 columns to 6. I remember when it was truly grey - there were no color photographs or advertisements.

Last week, I learned that they had dropped coverage of suburban arts, restaurants, and theater. This is a terrible move. Not only is it a disservice to the institutions that will no longer be covered, it's a disservice to readers who might frequent those institutions.

I grew up in one NYC suburb and now live in another. For all intents and purpose, The New York Times is my local paper. I want to hear about openings at the museum a couple of towns north, and what an objective writer thinks about the new restaurant at the train station down the hill from me. And the flip side is that those institutions need the imprimatur of the Times for their success.

Days after I heard that metro coverage was being curtailed, I spotted a little announcement:

Right. The New York Times is upping their coverage of California, while jettisoning coverage at home. So I can find out what's happening 3000 miles away, but not in my own backyard.

Then, adding insult to injury, I read the really nice New Yorker profile of restaurant critic Pete Wells, only to learn that Pete's gonna be reviewing restaurants in California.

Sigh. They stop covering local venues, and start reviewing restaurants in Santa Monica. It makes me spitting mad.

I think the good grey lady has downwardly mobile aspirations to become USA Today.