Archive for August, 2014

Identifying with Zoo Animals

August 21, 2014
We see the meercats being fed thawed-from-frozen-dead-little-white mice. The cats all have names and their keeper and the
meercats know them. Shades of “Meercat Manor.” ( ) I’d like to be an animal caretaker at the Philadelphia Zoo, to spend more time, than four hours-every-ten-years, in their habitat, to develop relationships like I have with the birds, squirrels, mongoose, mice in my outside backyard and the dogs, cats and mice inside my house. Everyday I’d like to see nature through the eyes of animals and children like the many we saw at the zoo.
The children see more than the adults. The animals see more than both the children and adults, many keeping as far from
the humans as possible.
The cheetah and maned wolf, alone in their enclosures, aloof from the masses, though alert to every sound and movement;
the Rhino sharing his pen with three giraffes and two zebras, actually makes eye contact, used to being gently touched by
patrons at “Behind the Scenes” events; the hundred year old turtle, also making eye contact, before crawling into her pool
of fresh water; the monkey in the overhead mesh trail watching us eat our lunch and throwing down a few morcels of her own
munchings; the large cat also ambling across another overhead trail on this hot day, heading to cat-nap with her mate
just outside the glass enclosure where species of the human variety feast in air-conditioned comfort.
A five-year old in a superman shirt is separated just by a thin wire fence from a magnificent long-haired African Plain’s
animal with horns, both stand their grounds without fear.
My friend and I both have decades of experience with our own domestic animals and children. We know how valuable is the
communication between species, the bonding that occurs. We wander to the Children’s Zoo that features a baby chick in an
incubator hatching before our eyes and then other one-, two-, three-day chicks wobbling around in an attached cubicle. We
see the rats and the rope they walk across, although we miss their performance. We sit down in a living room with a polar
bear looking in and then go outside to pet and groom sheep, goats and ponies.
Four hours of pure bliss we spend, hidden with animals beneath towering trees, feeling this environment to be more real than the one of concrete structures and automobile sounds  just outside the protective fences.  It is a paradise at the Philadelphia Zoo!  IMG_2181IMG_2169IMG_2136 IMG_2137 IMG_2138 IMG_2139 IMG_2141 IMG_2155 IMG_2162 IMG_2175 IMG_2176 IMG_2177



The Monster Is Quiet (at least for now)

August 16, 2014

August 16th, a lovely Saturday morning in Modacius – after a quiet night without the sounds of war from the Giant Metal Shredding Machine. I still have a deep cough from breathing in the plume of fine metal particulate matter last week, but am hoping the lungs will clear if the air remains clean and fresh like today.
How quickly the threat of destruction settles in. The fear of the war lord starting his Giant Crusher looms large. It has been quiet for 24 hours. Did the DEP* inspector order a cease and desist? How long will it hold?
At least for this one glorious day, my thoughts can return to a creative life and not just be possessed with survival.
*Department of Environmental Protection

Mayor Redd’s and Our Camden CAN RISE if Camden Iron and Metal Operation Descends!

August 14, 2014

Here is a clip of very important people talking about Camden rising.

I believe it is possible for Camden to rise, IF Camden Iron and Metal, the largest metal recyler in the country,  pares down its pollution of air, water and noise in South Camden.The operation totally disrespects our neighbor hood and Camden people. Seventy percent of it’s employees (mostly Camden residents), subject to hazardous fine metal particulates, choose not to wear masks – I can only suppose due to ignorance about what the air they are breathing will do to them!  I have been told that since CIM is a private company, OSHA is the only one that can fine them on the risk to its employees – and they would listen only to CIM employees (which I am not).

Here is my posting to Facebook with this clip:

CCMUA – the sewer treatment plant in the 80’s WAS unbearable – as I’m quoted as saying in this news clip – BUT millions of dollars spent on erasing the sewer treatment plant pollution will come to naught if the Camden Iron and Metal operation (CIM) next to the proposed Phoenix Park is allowed to continue its 24/7 pollution of water, air and sound in South Camden.
(What wasn’t shown in the video was my response to Brenda Flanagan’s question “Why did you move next to a sewer treatment plant 25 years ago!? – I said Because of the vision of Sacred Heart Church to transform a blighted neighborhood, Monseigneur Michael Doyle, Metropolitan Opera Star Barbara Dever (and her singing daughter, Shauna Dever -and I wanted to do art projects with Camden children and to open a pottery studio.) There are many who want to transform Camden – CIM people not included!

Art CAN Survive If Not Buried by Camden Iron and Metal

August 14, 2014

Most dangerous city in U.S. for POLLUTION (and crime)
Sooo – a joint venture for a health sciences building to be developed… Camden is known for “meds and eds”: medical and educational institutions.
The city will offer up endless clients to serve and educate: addicts of multiple addictions.
The city will also offer up sick employees from CIM (Camden Iron and Metal) – those workers who breathe in fine metal particulates and develop lung cancer.
The city will also offer up to its eds and meds eventually ALL Camden residents because they will inevitably suffer from air,water and noise pollution from CIM (and other industries) operating nightly from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.
The crimes of air, water and noise pollution far exceed crimes by individuals!


Barbara Gail, Art Teacher at Bonsall Elementary School in Camden, N.J.

August 13, 2014

Zaje1’s drawings initiated by Barbara Gail, Bonsall School

Click on the above link for a sample of a Bonsall student’s artwork (Zaje1) for seven years on the Artsonia website. She has a portfolio of one piece of artwork each for grades two, three, five, six and six pieces from her seventh grade for the academic year 2013-2014.

For twelve years Barbara Gail has  been posting photos of her students’ art on this website – a total of 3,585 pieces.  This year she did 44 projects with students from pre-K to 8th grade.

This year I helped two excellent art teachers (Jeffrey Phillips and Nina Speart) at Leap Academy post their students’ work for the first time on Artsonia.  Take a look at it while you’re also examining Barbara Gail’s student artists.  

The dedication of these elementary school art teachers is truly amazing.  All children lucky enough to have classes with them are able to add rungs to their ladders of self esteem through their own visual accomplishments. These educators make sure of it.   

“You color. I’ll give you the origami…” to pre-kindergarteners…

August 12, 2014

How I love how the four and five year olds color. Scribble, shapes, lines, anything is fine. Next year is kindergarten. This year is probably the last year they get to do “their own thing!”IMG_2122The four and five year old pre-k children love to color these hidden pictures – I make the origami and they color, inside and out.  IMG_2123


And here are some Mama and baby origami birds they colored


The Creativity of Pre-K Kids!

August 12, 2014

The confidence of  the pre-k children in our summer class was bolstered by their experience in our pre-k spring semester.  They knew how to express themselves. Some kept primary colors separate. The oldest, Ryan, experimented, separating and mixing colors. Some concentrated on shapes. Good friends, Nailah and Zanai, dialogued with line and color action. Shakeem made a bold animal statement. Valerie concentrated on rainbows. How wonderful to see the personalities of our four and five year olds bursting forth in their art!IMG_2129

IMG_2120IMG_2121IMG_2119IMG_2118IMG_2117IMG_2116IMG_2111IMG_2110IMG_2109IMG_2108 IMG_2114IMG_2113IMG_2112

Living in Camden Iron and Metal’s War Zone

August 10, 2014


Recently I have started to share Art Aware’s Blog. I am a cat living with the Professor who writes the blog. She doesn’t know I sneak onto the computer at night. The Professor writes about kids’ art. I write about the Professor and our lives together – an Art Aware/Life Aware perspective which now centers around the killer metal recycler in our neighborhood, Camden Iron and Metal.

Yesterday and last night, no CIM Giant Crusher activity. But being in its sound-war zone of crashing metal bombs, scraping front end loaders, UNcovered conveyor belts, etc. the ANTICIPATION of CIM’s Giant Crusher’s start-up is almost as bad as the operation itself. (I lie, nothing could be worse than that middle-of-the-night nightmare.)

We, the residents of South Camden, know the sound-horrors of living in war-torn countries, never knowing when the next bombardments will begin, how long they’ll last or when they’ll end.

The Professor and I took a 6:00 a.m. walk on this lovely Sunday morning. One half a mile from the Giant Crusher, tractors were shoveling shredded metal, providing the constant undertones of war for residents from Atlantic Avenue north to Beckett Street – not much sound to the south on Ferry Avenue. The Giant Crusher was at rest. The Professor took photos of what to expect in the future on any day, at any hour: piles of whole cars waiting to be conveyed to the Crusher.

You can see a giant grinder part. In the distance, you can see beautiful Philadelphia just across the Delaware, where residents are blissfully ignorant of the hell CIM is causing to the whole region environmentally.

We walk home on the railroad tracks past the Michael Doyle Fishing Pier and the proposed Phoenix Park, places where the air and water often are packed with particulates from CIM, State Metal, Holcim Cement, trash-to-steam and CCMUA and Mafco Licorice odors.
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There is little wind, so in spite of it all, on this fine day, somehow we can appreciate fresh air that has snuck into the atmosphere and a clear blue sunlit sky.           Amen!

Artwork by Leap Academy Lower Elementary School

August 9, 2014

Nina Speart is an amazing art teacher at Leap Academy – as is Jeffrey Phillips, who has already been featured in Art Aware’s blog. I was fortunate to see them both in action this spring and to post over 1,000 of their students’ art images on .  Here is some of the work Nina initiated:

Insects Up Close by 31 fifth Graders:        Cityscapes by 7 third graders:           Building Bridges by 37 first graders:          African Masks by 5 sixth graders:          Geometric Nature Prints by 18 sixth graders:           Patterned Animals by 33 fifth graders:        Zebras in Design by 45 first graders:   

My Cat’s Reaction to Camden Iron and Metal

August 2, 2014

IAAC*  –  Sleep, Precious Sleep No Thanks to Camden Iron and Metal

It’s Saturday. It is quiet in Modacius. Last night was the third night without sounds of hell coming from CIM (Camden Iron and Metal).

The professor took an hour nap this morning. Unheard of for her, napping mid-day but the effects of one week without sleep because of CIM had its impact.

You cannot imagine the depth of the sounds of turmoil coming from that Ferry Avenue and 2nd Street CIM plant in the middle of the night.

Scrap metal being scraped from piles by a huge claw attached to a crane, then cranking around on its pedestal to a waiting dumpster and dropping its claw-full. The crashes sound like bombs going off and shake our corner row house five blocks away. The scraping up of discarded iron and mangled car parts by a bulldozer and the crane make me imagine what people in war-torn countries must hear when explosions go off, except this is worse because it’s constant – the shriek of metal striking metal without respite, it being lifted in the air and let go, crashing into waiting dumpsters. When finally filled – one, two, three, four hours later, the trucks go beep, beep, beep when they back up and head off to the highway to places unknown.

The operation goes on during the day – but everyone is up and about. It is in the dead of night that we hear and feel the impact.

There are zoning laws prohibiting excessive noise after 11:00 p.m. The Prof. made phone calls all last week to City department heads to try to get CIM to stop. Perhaps they helped…because, as I said, we have had three nights of quiet. And the quiet in the Waterfront South section of Modacius is usually lovely – probably quieter than in other cities like Philadelphia and New York.

The sleeping arrangements for the seven residents in our row house are: Prof., senior cat, pitbull, shitsu in master bedroom, me and C. in library and mongrel downstairs. It’s important that we have quiet at night four seasons a year without the horrendous CIM operations.

In the months warm enough for open windows, we should be able to hear an occasional police siren, fire engine, car crash, domestic dispute and act accordingly: look out the window, evacuate the premise, call the police, cut-off connections with neighbor or, as a last resort, close the windows and turn on the air conditioner. In the cold winter months with closed windows it’s also important that to hear police sirens, fire engines, car crashes, extremely loud domestic disputes so we can act as accordingly as in the warm months. But there are additional sounds that need to be heard in the winter: the munching and gentle footfalls of uninvited visitors coming in from the cold! The professor depends on the six other members of the household to attend to them!

*I Am A Cat