Friday, August 28, 2009

First Week of School!

Just a note to say that I have finished teaching my first week of the 2009/2010 school year. Sorry if I have not participated in the writing challenge or visited your blogs much. The first week of the year is extremely challenging. I am teaching ELEVEN classes! Ihave 150 new students. I'm a little swamped. Love you. I'll be back soon.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Steam Punk Fashion

Tomorrow, Monday, is my official first day back to the 2009-2010 Academic year.

Who knows what my fashion conscious high school students will be wearing?

My oldest daughter, a senior this year, wants to go "Steam Punk" .

Pictured is a Steam Punk fashion show from the 2009 Otakon festival in Baltimore, Maryland. (We spent the weekend after our California adventure in Baltimore with five teenage girls).

I am not an expert on "Steam Punk" but it's all about metal and gears, leather, bustierres, uniforms, piratey stuff, etc. Metal breastplates are cool, as are prosthetic arms and other devices.

"Brown" is the new black. I have been gradually adding brown to my daughter's black wardrobe. Lucky for me, brown and black still go together.

(Note some of the interesting audience members).

Pair your metal breastplate, with flowing, peasant skirts, pirate pants and gears.

Metal jet packs are all the rage!
I'm thinking the Mad Max movies were the inspiration for these as cool old fashioned goggles are in.

This one is the best! I'm not sure if the wings work or not.
In this seminar, my daughters and their three friends learned the ins and outs of the steam punk fashion rage.
Back to school shopping has become a bit more difficult. Where do I get this stuff?
I have found pirate pants and peasanty, blouses. We got a "uniform" type jacket at Alcatraz.
Oh, and I would have been so into this when I was that age.
Stay tuned for more Otakon fun, including the Gothic Lolita fashion show!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pizza Perfect!

This is a post about PIZZA. REAL Pizza. That means I am not recognizing the phonies. You know who you are: Pizza Hut, Dominoes, Papa Johns or Little Ceasars. I want the good stuff. The authentic family "hide your recipe in the safe deposit" box pizza.

I grew up at the Jersey Shore where I always had access to "good" pizza. Mack and Manco's on the Ocean City boardwalk was "good". It was a small family business, with a secret family recipe. When I go to visit Dad, I know that Primo's is another local business that is consistently delicious. I lived in New York City during the late 70's. I knew I could always find a slice and a soda for an inexpensive lunch (like $1.60).

In Philly, my Italian painting teacher, Philomena Dellarippa (sp?), complained that pizza was garbage food. Her family back in Italy would never lower themselves to eat that garbage. (I guess it depends on your family). She might have been aristocracy. I don't know. I've never been to Italy. I desperately WANT to go but not for pizza.

She did not sway me. I continued to consume the contemptible crap. I took it for granted that "good" pizza was always available.

That is until I moved to Cleveland, Ohio. I actually loved Clevelan. I lived there for a couple of years and realized that they just didn't know how to make pizza. I mean, I thought, how hard can it be to make a crust, cover it with tomato sauce and cheese and throw it in the oven? I didn't realize it was an art form. In 1980, a local shop "introduced" New York "style" pizza. They made a honest effort.

I ate pizza in Cleveland and it just didn't taste "the same".

In 1984 I moved to York county, PA (via Philadelphia). Once again. We couldn't find "good" pizza. I mean it was okay. It just wasn't "good". I'm happy to report that things have gotten better in Dodge.

My brother told me that you couldn't get "good" pizza in California. I posted something about that and inadvertently insulted Katie. I felt horrible. I didn't mean to insult.

In all honesty, I never tried California pizza. Knowing just a little bit about Cali, especially the Berkeley-San Francisco area, is that they probably do everything they can to make it healthy and wholesome. I'm thinking whole-grained sourdough crust with sun-dried tomatoes, organically grown artichoke hearts and cheese from free range, happy, California cows.

Katie, please forgive me. I absolutely love California food! I'm just..."afraid"to try your pizza. Okay. It's a comfort food thing. You know. Those certain "homey" expectations. I am letting"healthy" fly out the window. I want cheese and grease.

Pictured above here is Wilkes-Barre, PA "Pizza Perfect" pizza. This is a Sicilian styled (thick crust) pizza. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (as in "The Office") is a very ethnic area.

You don't order a "pizza". You order a "cut" or "twelve".

My husband grew up here. In his neighborhood of Pittston, there were seven or eight Catholic Churches, each offering Mass in a different language. Two of these churches celebrated the Mass in Italian. Please also note that these wonderful Italian people were extremely competitive. Doug worked in a pizzeria and was not allowed to see the mixture of cheeses that were used. He was not privy to the ingredients of their secret crust.

I have always love the traditional round "Neopolitan" pizza with the thin crust. Until one day, my husband turned me on to Pizza Perfect. Sicilian is rectangular pizza on a thick crust, totally sinful, as they use lard in the crust. It is extremely and exquisitely crispy, a bit greasy yes, but absolutely orgasmic! The sauce is very light. We order ours with onion bits (very subtle) and whatever secret combination of cheese. We only get it now when we visit relatives. It is absolutely horrible for you - healthwise, but well worth the extra calories on occasion. There are other notable pizzerias in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area such as Old Forge Pizza, Sabatini's (Neopolitan style). Grotto was originated here. There are many others, far too numerous to mention. Locals pick their favorites and have been known to fight to the death if someone insults thier fave. So be very careful.

BTW Katie. We stopped for lunch in Livermore. We found there the best Greek restaurant ever!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Lucho's Lament - Dive's 500 Word Challenge

"But with the passage of the years Lucho Abril Marroquin was to tell himself that of all the instructive experiences of that morning the most unforgettable had not been either the first or the second accident but what happened afterwards."

The fact that the second accident occurred at all was blamed entirely on him. Even though, he was too young to fully understand. What he did understand, however, was that Maria was gone.
Maria was beautiful. She had eyes that reminded Lucho of the moon at the very last crescent, moments before it disappeared. Her skin was smooth and as delicious as cocoa with cream.

Maria was the princess protected by Papa. She posessed Mamma’s fine aristocratic bones.
Lucho was ordinary at best. He was short, but of good working stock. Lucho looked like his father. He was an Inca without a doubt.

Maria was the model of her mother. She bore the blood of a Spanish queen. Lucho remembers when Papa took him into the city. The women looked different than the village women. Papa told him they were called “Blancos”. “Blancos” because they were white in comparison to the locals. Their skin was the color of cream. Their shoes clicked and made them appear taller. The Blanco women hired the Inca women to do their housework.

Lucho only remembers the day that Maria was taken from them. He was eleven years old and entrusted with her care. Papa gave him explicit instructions:
“You will take Maria into Lima. You will find Senora Martina’s salon. You will ask Senora to find a dress for Maria that will bring out her natural beauty.”

On the way out the door Lucho tripped, spraining his ankle.

Maria was about to turn fifteen. She was shy, quiet and hardly aware of this “natural beauty”. She was about to have her special birthday party. Papa was going to invite some dignitaries. He hoped that important men in town would notice Maria’s good breeding. He was not about to lose this opportunity.

Lucho had to escort Maria into the village. In the village they would catch the makeshift “bus” into Lima. This makeshift bus was an old Daihatsu pick-up truck, fashioned in the bed with Chevrolet bench seats . The operators collected two hundred pesos per rider. Not a bad wage for the village.

The village was an hour from Lima on a good day. The road to Lima was narrow, bumpy and vertical. On one side was the mountain, on the other was sheer cliff. You could not see to the bottom.

Lucho remembers the bouncing ride, the smell of passenger’s pigs . He felt sick.

Suddenly a child was crossing the road. The driver slammed on his brakes. The bus skidded and rolled over losing half of the passengers over the cliff.

Lucho tried to hold onto Maria.
He heard screams.

He felt a burning pain across his face. He woke up in the Hospital.

“You are dead to me”. Said his papa.

Disclaimer: I wasn't going to do this one. I just composed it this evening. I hate to refuse a challenge. I like to write for fun. Just as an exercise of the mind. I do not and will never profess to be a writer of any talent.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Conewago Creek Study with Palette Knife

I haven't posted a painting in a while. This is a small 12x12 square. Just thought I'd let you know that yes, I have been painting. I have been experimenting in the studio. I know. I'm not doing plein air. WTF. So I'm "cheating". Say what you will. I don't give a flying F. Painting is Painting. I am using my own damn photos but I am PAINTING. Besides, I find that painting outside in the mid to late summer around here is unbearable. It is too hot, humid and green. Everything is virtually the same shade of green. I will wait until early fall to attempt painting out of doors. Anyhoo. I am posting three views of the same painting. I was having some difficulty with the water - getting too pickly-tickly - not wanting to spoil the flatness of it and I says to myself WTF go crazy with a palette knife. Get thick and juicy and don't worry about details.

I had lots of fun and the reason I am posting three photos is because I do not have good editing software on my laptop. The editing software does not crop properly. It is not set up to crop "square formats." I have to go to work and use Photoshop to do that. So please excuse the weird little "edges". If you click on the images you should be able to see the juicy, thick paint.

I like the thick, shimmering quality of these paintings. You must know that I underpainted the canvas with a Golden Acrylic Vat Orange. I did not use a brush. I scratched through the paint to reveal the underpainting in the trees. I am working on a 20"x20" as well. I will post it soon. I appreciate your thoughts and comments.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Business at Bartleby's (Dive's Writing Challenge)

Then, suddenly, with great clarity and precision, he saw Bartleby's window and the blank brick wall before him."

“That’s our turf now! That territory has been claimed!”

He slipped out of the community clinic waiting room into the hallway, reaching urgently into his jeans pocket. He quickly grabbed his cellular and pushed #3 on the speed dial. He didn’t have to wait long.


”Yo, Ant, I need to see, immediately.”

“What’s goin on?”

“We in business, man. Can’t talk now... I’ll catch you later...probably in about 45.”


Anthony was a man of few words. Most people didn’t get him. But Aaron knew him better than anybody. They grew up together in this shithole of a neighborhood. He knew Ant was “gifted”. Just not in the academic sense.

As Aaron eased his way back into the waiting room, he checked the service monitor. Number “45” was being served. Momma was holding ticket #46 and giving him a major stink-eye.

“Where the hell did you get off to? You going all the time! You always so damn secretive. My number is almost up and you know I can’t run around looking for you in my condition.”

Aaron shrugged and looked at Momma without making eye contact. He couldn’t stand to look at her now. Ever since she got hooked up to that oxygen tank she needed Aaron for everything.

Momma’s appointment lasted all but 15 minutes. The doc looked at her, all the while shaking his head. He looked down his nose at Aaron.

“Emphysema is totally preventable. If your mother quit smoking twenty years ago, she wouldn’t be sick like this. You kids around here don’t seem to get that. Don’t they teach you anything in these public schools?”

Aaron just smiled and nodded his head. Momma might not look like much but she did a fine job teaching him manners. He tuned out Dr. Jones and his kind a long time ago. Besides he had other, more important things on his mind.

Back home Aaron was quick to get Momma inside. He started the pot and fetched her cup. She was breathing hard. He pulled out the Entenmann’s coffeecake and poured cold milk into the flowered, porcelain creamer. She seemed a little more comfortable sitting at her kitchen table.

“You be alright mom? I gotta run.”

“There you go again. Always running. If I didn’t know better I’d think you was dealing drugs.”

“I love you too, Momma.”

Aaron slinks out the back door. He has to hop two fences to get to Ant’s. Ant answers the door wearing an old white beater.

“You got the piece?”

“What piece you talking about man? I hope it’s not what I’m thinking.”

The Graffiti piece. Remember the mural you planned?

I spoke to Mr. Bartleby and he’s gonna let us paint it on his wall! He’s gonna pay us man!

“He’s gonna pay us?”

The boys ascend smiling into a simultaneous high-five.

“ YES! We ARE in business!”