pictures on a wall

Shortly after my granddaughter started spending time with me at 6½ weeks, I put cartoon drawings of her toys on the wall so she’d have something fun and familiar to look at. Her verbal skills grew rapidly and her toys changed, too. Now, at 4½ years, and way past Tinky Winky and Dipsy, she agreed to take most of the old drawings down and put up new ones. (She didn’t want to part with Sophey or Pout-Pout Fish, so they moved to a different wall.) She wants to fill another wall in the kitchen, too. Since her arrival, I’d hung framed pictures that her mother drew on wainscotting in the kitchen- all just two feet up- right about toddling height. Now we covered the wall above the wainscotting with her pictures and she wants to cover another wall with zoo animals. I’m loving it.

First she challenged me to draw the Nittany lion. We drew head to head, with her version winning in the end. The next afternoon she drew a regular lion. I called it an African lion but she said no- it’s a Pennsylvania lion. That’s when she arrived at the ‘zoo animal’ theme. Her elephant blew mine away, and she insisted it was an elephant, not a heffalump. She drew others without challenging me: a fantastic giraffe, a monkey “with some leaves to hold on to”, a tiger. All fun stuff, and all hanging in the kitchen.

And really, no presentation is complete without a signed self portrait of the artist as a young girl. In teddy bear pajamas. And Minnie the Mouse slippers.

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heart breaker

Fell off of a stool. I was three feet away. Poor kid.

Mea culpa.

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Child with salamander in a bowl.

She was on the floor showing her mom pictures she colored in pre-school. She held a stegosaurus kind of creature and said, “See? He has all these plates on his back!”

From the sidelines I said, “He must have a restaurant.”

She said, “No, grampop; these aren’t round plates.”

Four years and just about three months. And she knows I need help. Smart kid. The photo is of a dead mudpuppy we found by the swollen creek. Didn’t have a shot of the dinosaur. Sorry.

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Twenty seven years of ArtsFest buttons in one place..

The Arts Fest is coming next week. Officially, it happens starting the first Wednesday following the first Monday following the Fourth of July. The first I attended was 1980. I had made it to the area on July 1, 1979, but a local friend told me it wasn’t worth the hassle to drive (from Pennsylvania Furnace) into State College for the Festival that first year. After a few years I was married and living in State College, and we longed to have a baby in a pack at the Fest. In ’86 we had a two-month-old, and I don’t think we risked burning her delicate skin in the July sun. In ’87, the three of us were on the lawn.

Festival week was crazy at the restaurant. I had Wednesday off - Children’s Day - but afternoons and evenings the rest of the week were fully staffed, and insane. Especially late. Artists and musicians celebrating. When I left the restaurant, I left in the beginning of July. I’d helped prep for the Fest, but then I was gone. A gift to myself, the opportunity to attend. By this time I was divorced, the kid was older, and I couldn’t just plunk her in a pack. She had wants of her own, and her days with me didn’t involve much Festival. Maybe some music, but certainly no strolling through the booths.

The first button, at the top above, was a buck in 1991. Pretty cheap. Now, in 2018, they’re ten bucks. Still pretty cheap, I think. They’ve gotten smaller physically over time, too. That makes sense; cut a little bit of cost as long as ushers can still easily see them on special event attendees. One thing that didn’t make sense was selling a “youth button” for a reduced fee in 2011, ’12, and ’13. (Second to last row, looking like pairs.) They weren’t even marked as child or adult. I had one of each and never knew which to wear when my kid wasn’t along. And several years, no year was printed on the button. 40th Anniversary doesn’t have a year. Lucky the 50th Anniversary did.

This year’s button, lower right, seems important for two things: The jester is a female for the first time (as was the designer) and it has a little  DOWN TOWN  sponsorship ad on it. What’s up with that?

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sister I never met

Years ago I visited Mt. Zion Cemetery in Pottstown to try, on a whim, to find the grave of Ginette Stong. She was my sister, born November 7, 1946. She died a week later, on November 14. I know there had been several disappointing miscarriages but this death — of a one-week old infant — must have been devastating for the 29 year old mother.

On the day of my visit I located the cemetery office, found it staffed, and was given these three photocopies so that I could locate Ginette’s plot. With the maps, it was easy and I had a meaningful visit. The last two times in Pottstown I couldn’t find these documents, nor could I find anyone staffing the cemetery office. I was disappointed and wandered about in the cemetery for an hour or so. Later, in a thoughtful mood, I did manage to visit the graves of a good friend’s parents and place stones on their markers. They are in the Congregation Hesed Shel Emet cemetery on Hanover Street in Pottstown.

Did you catch that I misplaced the documents twice? I’d actually found them at one point, put them in a secure place, then lost them again. Different car, different apartment, aging memory, it all adds up. Well, hopefully the internet will give me regular access via this post. Larger versions are available but these images should be enough.

The family tree information may be of interest. Ginette, (here with a completely expected misspelled last name) is in plot eight, directly next to my great-grandfather, Henry Mack in plot nine. On Ginette’s other side is Harold Leh in plot seven, the husband of my grandmother Hannah’s sister Florence. Hannah’s other sister is listed here as Ella, but I’ve seen it also as Elli. On Henry’s other side is his wife, here as Mary Mack, but I’ve seen her name also as Maria [Smith] Mack. In the one document, it’s written first as Maria, then corrected as Mary. Maybe at some point, I’ll get back to Pottstown.

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John on his '55 Harley Panhead.

My brother, John. This is a photo I took in July of 1976. John liked the image. I hadn’t seen him since 2010, then on May 8, I had a phone call from a friend of his letting me know John had been discovered dead on April 19. He was born on February 11, 1948. He left a wife, Marsha, and a daughter, Erin. A son, Bob, predeceased him.

Edit, May 28: My daughter added this:

Indiantown Gap National Cemetery, Section C-7, Row A, Site 9 id 189985729

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sense of humor gone missing

Solo, a Star Wars Movie poster with a solo cup in space.

On May 4, generally recognized as Star Wars Day, I posted this image on Twitter with a line about Disney taking humor in their comic book movies just a bit too far- beer pong?

It fell flat as most of my attempts at humor do, but this time it seemed a particularly resounding silence. Not one comment. Not a single like. Geez. I pulled it at the end of the day, sad and defeated. The knock-off wasn’t a ton of work, I did get some satisfaction from completing it, but still. I was sad and defeated.

A photo like one published in a foodie blog, of red solo cups with movie tie-in.
A few days later, a tweet from a food blog I follow showed this image and congratulated solo cups on the savvy of their movie tie-in. I’d had no idea. So I pointed out the obvious. Not funny at all. There really was a Star Wars connection with the classic red solo cups and I’m a dummy. Maybe there’ll be a barroom scene in the movie with Han throwing his ping pong ball first/

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thirtytwo and almost four

Mother and child drawn in pencil.

Wow, I love this drawing so much. “There’s mommy. I’ll put me over here. And I’ll give me pigtails. Maybe mommy, too.” The cheeks and eyelashes are an addition I’ve never seen when she does me and her. Crazy. No training that I’m aware of- purely her own.

Mother and child working on school work.

When I first showed this digital file to my granddaughter, she recognized her mom, then herself. The floor she didn’t understand. When she saw the actual printed card, she smiled and said, “That’s my mommy!” Then she recognized herself and the juicebox. This time she said, “It’s at home! See the squares?” (Meaning the pattern in the rug) Fun stuff.

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Swings at the park

Granddaughter on the swing with an imaginary character.

Forgot to include this here. Sheesh. Sorry.

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end of elife

Back in the mid-1990s I was relatively young, fast, clear-sighted, and happily riding a wave of innovation. Work was designing web pages, crafting illustrations, developing any sort of visual educational resource. Design work was often interrupted by people needing help with graphics related issues: I can’t see the changes. I can’t open a file. It won’t print. I don’t have that menu… Even after some co-workers retired, they’d call for a reminder or guidance through new issues. I had old versions of most of my software that I could run from disk so we could use the same tools while trouble shooting together. It was part of the work, but undeniably satisfying. What usually ran through my mind behind the voice I tried to keep calm and non-judgemental were muttered questions: “why don’t you upgrade your system? Why don’t you upgrade your software? Why don’t you just use the current, recommended browser?”

A classic sick Mac in a walker.As I got ready for retirement in 2012 I bought a large, powerful laptop and a Wacom tablet to steer it with. For software, I went with the recently released Adobe CS6 Master Suite. It included apps I didn’t need, like DreamWeaver; others that I hadn’t used quite yet, like After Effects; and my workhorses, Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, and InDesign. I always picked up the newest release of those apps as soon as they were available and I was determined to continue updating. Life was good, I did personal work, launched my domain, and continued to read extensively to stay in touch. A few months after my departure I read the news that Adobe was going to change from their 18-month numbered release cycle of boxed software to a Creative Cloud model requiring monthly internet verification and constant updating. I’d just relocated, was able to buy fast internet access for the first time, and I realized how fleeting that access could be. Access to authorize CC software on what might become a desktop computer would be impossible. Unavailable. Unaffordable. I opted out. CS6∞

Life was great and everything worked really well. Apple released an OS update — Mavericks? the car that blew up? —  and the word was that CS6 apps didn’t all function perfectly. I couldn’t take the risk; I held off updating till I could be sure. Everything was still great. Then Yosemite was released and about that time I started to get “Service Battery” warnings. Everything seemed fine, but Apple Care, still my umbrella for a few more months, suggested I take my laptop to a local Mac-Approved service center. I did and they were great. Their diagnosis condemned my practice of fully discharging then recharging my laptop’s battery every day. It had unnecessarily taken my laptop battery to its 1000-charge end. I was told I didn’t have to do that with mac batteries anymore, got a new battery (and keyboard!), and was offered an OS upgrade, too. I explained about my software and the tech told me he understood — he was running an iMac on Snow Leopard.

I had hoped that Adobe would publish an early version of the CC software on disk. Something less than current, something not updatable, but available for sale. Something that I could buy and replenish my system. I didn’t have the hope anymore.

Things start to get fuzzy for me about this time; I was lightheaded and disoriented. El Capitan appeared and it was too much for Adobe. Adobe stopped all CS6 updates and bug fixes and I stopped reading everything from Adobe. Safari had been my internet lifeline, but my websites started putting up notices when I landed on their pages: my version of Safari was not going to be supported anymore, please upgrade. I stopped reading anything from Apple. Twitter would only show me the mobile version of my page. Videos wouldn’t load. I switched to Chrome as my default but pretty soon, a banner appeared telling me my version of Chrome would soon be unsupported. Amazon Prime told me only Safari would work for video. Firefox was the last browser standing, then Firefox, too, upgraded beyond my ability to follow. No upgrade was available for any browser I had still running on Mountain Lion; video windows winked out all over the internet.

Today, this from Apple:

Dear David,

On June 30, 2018, Apple will implement changes to continue to ensure your financial data is protected when you make purchases on the iTunes Store or App Store.

Our records show that you may be accessing the store from an older version of iOS, macOS, or Apple TV software:

iOS 4.3.5 or earlier; macOS 10.8.5 or earlier; Apple TV Software 4.4.4 or earlier

To be able to change your payment information with devices running the software listed above, you’ll need to update to a more recent software version.

And finally in these last days, if I stay off of the internet, if I launch my creative applications and immerse myself in digital work, everything is responsive again, effective and stable. I am young, fast and life is good.

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