Archive for October, 2009

Autumn view

Even though it’s been a gray, cloudy, rainy week here in Baltimore, the fall colors are still spectacular. Here are some shots from my window.



The Aquatic Center where I swim is just to the left of the shuffleboard court.




Looking down into our courtyard.



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Morning swim

You already know that I swim half a mile at 7:00 a.m. six days a week. Today I asked our pool attendant to record me swimming. Even though I have edited the videos from about 15 minutes to a few seconds and a couple of minutes, no one but my husband will want to watch minutes of me swimming laps. If you just want a peek, here we go.

This video shows some close-up shots. You may notice that on the return, I do not breathe with every stroke. In fact, I can swim the length of the pool on one breath, and that’s how I start. I’m not fast, but my form is good and I can swim forever. Endurance, not speed, is my strength.

Most mornings two men swim at the same time I do. Here I am greeting one of them.

When I first tried to swim as fast as the other man (Good Neighbor), I couldn’t. In a little while I could keep up with him for one length of the pool. After many weeks, I could swim at his speed for three laps. Now I’m swimming faster than he does. Has he slowed down, perhaps? In the next video you can see him in the foreground, well ahead of me. By the end of the video,I had come even with him and after Darrell had stopped recording, I was well ahead.

I stopped to tell Darrell that we would see how good an artist he is.

And I thanked him.

Our pool is beautifully located. I can see it from my window. With skylights above and glass doors on three sides, it’s almost like swimming in the open. Not like swimming in a lake, though!

Thanks again to the videographer. It’s always a pleasure to have Darrell on duty.

When I said to Darrell one day, I being the only person in the pool, that watching me swim laps must be boring, he replied, “Not at all. I’ve watched Michael Phelps swim laps.” In person, here in Baltimore, where he trains.


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Me dancing

Okay. I finally figured out, with technical support, how to trim this video so you can see just a bit of me dancing. I was outside the dining room, not on the dance floor.

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As you know, since about the beginning of May, my recovery from ME-CFS has been explosive. No amount of activity has been too much. Saturday night I danced most of 2 1/2 hours and could have danced all night. That was after swimming half a mile in the morning and walking more than a mile in the afternoon. But this excessive energy has been driving me crazy. Often it’s as though I have Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder—out of control.

And that’s what my Recovery Improvisation project reflects. It is crazy, and anybody doing the work on it that I’ve been doing has to be crazy, too. I want to show you what working on this project looks like.

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I hold the unwieldy frame against my table and various parts of my body, turning it frequently to put the stitches or beads where I want them. Because I started with no plan and have been working randomly, many areas to be stitched are hard to get to, no matter how I position the frame. And when I tried using hoops for small areas, I couldn’t. There are too many hard bits—wrapped plastic rings, clay beads, and glass beads; and places too heavily stitched—to put hoops where I need them. When I tried putting the frame in my floor stand, I shattered some beads—the work is so close to the edge. In fact, I’ve even stitched right against the wooden frame! Anyhow, I have to keep turning it too frequently for a frame holder to be of use.

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The work has taken a terrific beating, as I toss it around to get to where I want to stitch. In the sequence below you can see some of my contortions. (I’m wearing magnifying lenses; I guess I was attaching beads.)

Here I was bracing the frame between my knees and holding it in various positions as I stitched.

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It is really, really difficult to work this way. I  must be crazy, doing this! Here are some damaged areas that I have to re-work.

One of these beads went missing. I re-attached all five of them for security.


Somehow, in the rough treatment, the Sculpey bead with the glass bead in the center got broken.


Here’s where I smashed a glass bead by clamping down on it with my floor stand frame holder.


And here, the bottom oyster stitch has come apart.


Now, though, I’m eager to finish it, and for a few weeks, I’ve been able to work concentratedly, several hours at a time, many days. I seem to be settling down, getting calmer. Meanwhile, the piece keeps getting crazier. I think I’m almost done.

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Camera bag

Nina asked where did I stash my cameras? In here:


It was the perfect size. It held both cameras and extra batteries for each of them. I left it on my table while I used one camera and while I danced.

I bought this retro bag at the Treasure Sale for $1.00, intending to harvest the beads and maybe even find a use for the "apparently” knitted or crocheted fabric. Not only was it the right size, it looked just right, too. Perfect colors.

In my balantine were my every-day glasses. The lenses in the big red frames are an old prescription and I was afraid I would not be able to tolerate them through the evening. After enough Scotch, I didn’t even notice that I was not wearing the correct lenses. The dark red frames were to be seen, not for seeing!

Did I enjoy myself? Oh my yes.

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For those of you who’ve already seen it, I’ve added a video and some more text to the Autumn Elegance post.

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Autumn Elegance

Gala program

That was the theme of this year’s annual Charlestown Gala, the major fund-raiser for our Benevolent Care Fund. This fund enables Charlestown to make good on its promise that no resident will ever have to leave Charlestown because that person has run out of money, has outlived her resources. In our eleven years here, this was my first Gala. Above is the cover of the program.

Here I am at the entrance to the party site which included lobbies, two of our largest dining rooms, the connecting hallway, and side rooms. I’m ready to party. You’ve seen the beaded top which I embellished. More about the beret in the previous post.


The Gala is all about eating, drinking, dancing, and gaming. Most of all it’s about raising money. Below is the glass sculpture at the entrance to one of the dining rooms.


There were multiple buffet spreads like this one.


Because I had been given a table assignment, I expected a sit-down dinner. No. Instead there was a countless assortment of appetizer/hors d’oevres kinds of foods. (Not a vegetable in sight!) People kept helping themselves from the buffets and the staff kept bringing out more food. The Dining Services Director said they’d bring out food as long as people were eating, and at 9:30 they would bring out the desserts. I didn’t even see them.


I want you to see that there were young people there—mostly staff. I tried to hang out with them.


Lavish hot trays of rich, very attractively presented foods, here in the other dining room. Everything helpfully labeled.


There was food on all sides, everywhere. Here’s one of the carving stations—beef and pork, I believe. I don’t eat meat.



And the carving station in the other dining room.


But there was also food I do eat—raw oysters and steamed shrimp and crab legs.


Here’s the menu:


And now I see there was a vegetable offering. Except for the mini crab cakes, I stayed away from the buffet line. Next year I will take more pictures of the food, as it really is over-the-top. Extravagant.

And of course there were huge booze selections. I was drinking Dewar’s Scotch. Although I had a table assignment, I sat there only briefly and intermittently. While I was eating some oysters, near the raw bar, a resident came up to me and invited me to her table. She said it didn’t look nice for me to be eating like that. “Come join us. You’re welcome to join us.”  I said, “I have a table, thank you.”

This is the hallway between the two main dining rooms, beautifully decorated by photographs of Charlestown in the fall, taken by a resident over many years and artfully mounted as collages.


There were two musical ensembles. One was a big band in the Chesapeake Room, with a dance floor, as seen here. The music was continuous, with people dancing right from the start, including me.


Early on, I was off to the right side, behind the pillar, just moving in place to the music, when a large black man approached and asked me to dance. It was a slow dance, and I told him I’m not good at following, partner-dancing, but he said I’d be fine with him; and I was. Couldn’t help wondering aloud whether we were shocking some of those old white people. All I know is that he is Bernie’s  husband. Bernie, a staff member, and I collaborate frequently.


In the Shortline Cafe there was a smaller group of musicians, playing more mellow music—guitar and vocalist shown here. Seated in turquoise is one of the young people with whom I had delightful conversation. We’d both graduated from women’s colleges that have since gone co-ed. Lots to compare, lots to share. Both self-identified feminists.

Besides food and drink and dancing, there was gaming. I don’t even know what the games were. As we entered, we were given “funny money” to gamble with. I don’t gamble and I have no interest in such games.


I do know that these are slot machines.


And that this is a roulette wheel.


When I wasn’t shooting stills or videos, or having an interesting conversation, this is what I was doing: dancing. I went prepared to dance by myself, which I love to do, and I did. And as I danced, I motioned for other women to join me, and they did. But then men began asking me to dance. I lost count. Even one of the young servers asked me to dance, and he’s been practicing ballroom dancing for four years. Somehow I managed to follow without too many gaffes. Here’s our Dining Services Director with a resident.


Here’s Bernie with her husband.


Every time I shot this couple, they had just turned their backs to me.


Vinson again.  IMG_0231 This couple was seated at my table—a lovely woman wearing a corsage and her courtly husband. Even he asked me to dance!


Now, I don’t want you to miss this couple. He was not the only resident in full Scots formal regalia.


As I walked away from the dance floor, a woman resident said to me, “I hope your husband is a saint, ’cause you sure ain’t!” “You’re right,” I told her. “A saint I ain’t!”

End of the evening, for me. That bag is my funny balantine, made several years ago.


The photographer (the ballroom dancer kid), wanted a shot in front of the fireplace, so I obliged him.


If I can get it trimmed, I’ll post a video of me dancing.

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