Camden in Winter

February 20, 2019

aa2004-01 - 2004

Camden in winter – a beautiful city for those with eyes to see!

Always the loving faces of children peeking from bundled scarfs going to school, book bags on wheels in tow

Bare tree branches reaching to the sky – magnificent barren design

Fallen leaves eddying, leaping through the streets, blessing what they touch

Windows of rowhouses – like television sets tuned to life’s channels

The clock tower of City Hall a beacon – not symbolizing anything but the passage of time

The peace of the Delaware – with Philadelphia beyond – a testament of forefathers and mothers, beckoning

Strong visage of Camden people peering out the bus panels, every color, age, disposition

The churches on Sundays drawing from the suburbs, catering to the locals

The downtown bustle of business on weekdays – street vendors humanizing industry

The students’ artwork, large and bold, displayed in Pathmark supermarket at the checkout, reminding us of why we live!


February 20, 2019 – It’s a snowy day and I sorted some old boxes of school folders and found this – that  I wrote in Winter, 2005. I still feel the same way about Camden fourteen years later!

Anthropomorphyzing Dogs

February 17, 2019

I feel close to my friend Evi Schumacher because we’re kindred souls in anthropomorphyzing (is that a word?) life – especially our dogs.

Evi wonders if her dog remembers losing his first home and coming to  hers when he saw her using a walker (hopefully temporarily). He had a worried look on his face. Did his first owner give him up due to health and lack of mobility?

That made me wonder if my 75 pound Great Dane mix has a memory of his beginnings in Southern USA on Christmas Day, 2015.

Thanks to Evi’s sensitivity, I try to attribute memory to my dog because of his behavior – his response – to the word “crate” as in “Get into your crate.” He does it so joyfully. He loves his crate. Did his first foster person instill that joy?

I find my boy completely ignores me if there is any annoyance in my tone of voice asking him to “Come to me.” If my voice drips with “Oh what a good boy…” – he responds immediately. Tone of voice is important to him. Early on, he may have learned that. And, he teaches me to emphasize it – even to the extent of tricking him to come with a nice voice even when I’m displeased with him.  I have to figure out a different way to change bad behavior than with tone of voice…

Thanks Evi, for pushing me to give intelligence to the canine species here-to-fore not considered much.

Awe, Courage, Love Affair with Unknown

November 17, 2018

Be it from a ledge on a rocky mountain top (open link below) or from a 25th floor window of a high rise, the awe, courage and love affair with the unknown is there.

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2248938401994293&id=100006344655968

red futon - china highrise

Me and Johnny Depp

November 17, 2018

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=354740654873581&id=180202438994071

FB posts tell me about what’s going on in the world. My other sources of news are NPR and the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper on Sundays.

When I post on the Internet, I don’t usually write my opinion, so I’m not chased down the beach like Johnny Depp in the above clip.

I post a lot of FB because I want to share a glimpse at this world we live in and can with a slight touch of my finger on the Android. That alone is a miracle happening, yes!?!

My life’s passion is art awareness – and FB is a vehicle to share with like-minded friends who can “like or not-like” or not respond at all – and just scroll on by.

Just don’t chase me down the beach if you disagree with something.  :-))))

Art Will Save Us – 32 years in Camden

November 4, 2018

thumbnail_KIMG1255  I moved to Camden, N.J. 32 years ago after my father died, to get away from Cherry Hill taxes and to become part of the Sacred Heart Church community.

Yesterday there was a birthday celebration in the rectory chapel – such a familiar place and so many familiar faces – for the person who influenced my journey to Camden: Father Michael Doyle.

I’m grateful to Michael for maintaining an intercultural, spiritual community where art and individuality matter and I have been able to do my own thing: teaching and doing art with all ages from pre-school to old age, where I’m now at!

I recounted to him a short trajectory of my move:  1) Japanese Buddhist monks passing through Camden (at his request) at the end of their peace march from California in the early 1980s. 2) Michael’s writings in the ’80s about Bobby Sands in an Irish prison. 3) Michael’s primary teaching that “Art Will Save Us.”

1)  I lived in Tokyo in the ’60s when Catholics were taught that even visiting a non-Catholic (no less non-Christian) Church would mean not going to heaven. I was going to Buddhist Temples – which did not bode well for my future… until those monks, in the 80s, were invited to unfurl their banners at Sacred Heart Church and chant their sutras. All was not lost for me – and the beauty of Buddhism and Catholicism (post Vatican II) was also unfurled…

2) The compassion Michael showed for those in Irish prisons as well as for the poor in Camden was somewhere I needed to live and to learn.

3) My connections to the places I had lived – Manhattan, Tokyo, Honolulu, Cherry Hill, were Art-centered:  music, painting, pottery, literature, individual inspiration and creativity…

Thanks for the gift of YOU, Monseigneur Doyle, for many years of joy and learning in Camden, my home.

And many more Happy Birthdays to come!

Executive Origami Toy – For All Ages

March 15, 2018

thumbnail_KIMG1799 exec toy

It ain’t easy to put together 6 units into an origami whole! Check it out on You Tube.

It’s called an “Executive Toy,” I suppose because if you hold it gently between your palms and blow, it skillfully spins. And any organization that “spins well” is run by a skillful executive? Or, maybe CEOs have nothing better to do than to twirl it?

I work part-time at a State-of-the-Art play care center (at Camden Kroc Center) with kids – ages 6 months to 6 years old. It is well equipped with train sets, action figures, small construction trucks, sports cars, potato heads – you name it. Most of the toys are made of plastic and metal.

But, in addition to the high-tech stuff,  the children use plain old Crayola jumbo crayons to draw pictures and to color 3-D origami figures of birds, boxes, flowers, etc.

They also play with the assembled “Executive Toy” between their palms and love the way it spins so skillfully – even faster than their manufactured, miniature, battery-operated Maseratis!

 

 

 

Meditation in Cinema

March 7, 2018

KIMG1788 (2)Japanese doll

I’m taking a a Rutgers-Camden film history class with first generation Iranian-American professor, Emud Mohkberi.

The paradox he articulates in class, that Japanese director, Yasujiro Ozu, in his films, can focus on the discomfort of family situations while NOT allowing his characters to wallow in it and at the same time he affords the viewers the luxury of seeing the truthfulness of such cinematic intimacy as if it were their own.

I’m enamored of  Japanese films and literature and feel fortunate to better understand my decades-long fascination, hearing the way Mohkberi describes it.

  • The above image is of a doll I received in 1966, made by the grandmother of one of my Japanese students who studied English with me at Sophia University in Tokyo.

Do Unto Others…?

February 8, 2018

Do Unto Others…?

An animal activist friend posted the image on Facebook:

a German Shepherd – the most magnificent of creatures – in a cage,

cringing in fear of being hit again,

howling, when the hand of the rescuer came near,

afraid of being abused again.

Such an abominable image.

I quickly deleted it – but could not from my mind.

It stays with  me months later.

How a man – or woman – ceases to be a human being –

as a person, (let alone a sentient “lower-species-being”)

who tortures or is being tortured.

All thoughts of forgiveness flee,

and only revenge remains,

for the creature doing the torture

and the creature receiving it.

And so I better understand, but cannot imagine

“Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

At this moment, it is impossible for me.

When I see a POTUS

whipping the airways for a demonstration of power –

a march to show who is Boss

to those with the malevolent hand AND to those receiving the blows,

any notion of forgiveness is obliterated.

 

Grandson Challenges Blog

December 2, 2017

It’s good to talk to the younger generation, even if they challenge you.

“Grandma, you’re hiding yourself! I don’t see you in the blog.”

“But you know our family history. Can’t you piece it together?”

“Yeah, maybe.  The Pope – we’re hyphenated Catholics.  Vandenberg – A Dutchman great grandfather who did great things.  Rita Hayworth – a great entertainer in the middle of the twentieth century.   We need more more of all of them in our world.”

“Ya’ got it.”

End of conversation. Maybe the deeper meaning will dawn when he’s in his seventies…

 

 

The Pope, Senator Vandenberg and Rita Hayworth

November 28, 2017

I’m in my seventies and a great fan of the Pope, Michigan Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg and Rita Hayworth.

What do they have in common?

They all came across my Facebook news feed today. The Pope for visiting Myanmar, Vandenberg for getting a biography published sixty-six years after his death and Hayworth for her sixty-one post World War II films.

In 2017 how are these people relevant to a Facebook viewer like me?

The first represents a savior for the suffering people everywhere; The second, a savior for a post WWII devastated Europe and Japan.  The third, a savior to a world needing to dance and erase the images of war.

Today we need to celebrate more of such saviors – past and present.