Fashion Jewelry by: B E T S E Y .

At the beginning of fall season, some predictable things start going on in my girly self: I buy a Vogue Magazine, pull garments from my “tired of” closet, and go shopping at Macy’s, Dillards, TJMaxx, and small, locally owned dress shops. In the Macy’s fashion-jewelry area at the Betsey Johnson counter, a jewelry counter that has made me smile for ages, but a place that seemed wild, I finally sprang for my first pair of Betsey earrings to be worn by me, not someone younger.

I was prompted by having lost not one but two valuable stud earrings on two different occasions close together. Swearing off valuable

stud earrings, preferring instead leverback earrings, not as likely to fly away when you pull a top over your head or use the shower and hair dryer at the fitness center, I chose the gold-toned leopard-print hearts accented with tiny enameled black bows. They were under $40, half as expensive as the single amethyst stud that went missing. I had no idea how happy that Betsey purchase would make me. The Betseys were comfortable, played up my complexion, and provided a feeling of pride of ownership because they seemed well made. Within a few days, I had also bought two other pair of earrings, a watch, three necklaces, a tote bag, and a wallet, all sporting the hot pink sales tag with Betsey’s hand-printed first and last names, followed by a period.

With every purchase, I chatted to whoever was at the counter and learned that Betsey is seventy years old. Reading about New York Fashion Week, I learned that, although seventy, she continued her tradition of turning a cartwheel at the finish of her runway designs each year. I learned that she is a grandmother like me, but that her daughter does not wish to continue the company, now that her mother is retiring or selling. Rumor has it that Liz Claiborne Company has bought Betsey Johnson. I would not be surprised if this is true, as the Liz Company owns the Juicy Couture and Lucky Brands, both with some sass like Betsy Johnson’s merchandise.

The happy feeling continues every time I put on Betsey Johnson items, or even thinking of what she represents gives me a happy kick: fun with fashion, courage to dress for oneself, and a kind of Andy Warhol freshness in understanding semiotics and iconography. Let this essay bring tribute to the youngest-feeling seventy-year-old grandmother I’ve ever encountered. Betsey Johnson, I really appreciate the work you have done in costume jewelry, bags, wallets, and totes. I am a happier older person for having met your designs.

 

BROOKLYN VACATION IN MAY, YEAR 2012

The Brooklyn Bridge was begun in 1869 and completed in 1883.

The Brooklyn Bridge is 129 years old, construction having been begun in 1869 and finished in 1883 (for the literary-minded– 1869 is the year Tolstoy published War and Peace). The bridge’s towers, dark grey stone rectangles, heavy in demeanor, march strongly upward as though wearing heavy boots to their vertical lookout. They are topped with caps. Two arches were built into the rectangular design, from a distance giving a hint of carving. The effect is similar to the crowning arches with keystones of gothic cathedrals. The tower tops sling lighter-colored cables down creating a lacy effect. Tan lamps on tall poles add to the complexity. There are so many cables attached to the towers that observing them, one might think of a giant loom spinning wool threads. At the tip top center, the American flag waves in the breezes.

On the pedestrian walkway/bikeway, a bronze plaque reads: Erected by the cities of New York and Brooklyn, MDCCCLXIX — MDCCCLXXXIII. It lists TRUSTEES of the project, too numerous to mention, and these ENGINEERS: John A Roebling, 1869, Washington A.  Roebling, Charles C. Martin, William H. Paine, Francis Collingwood, Wilhelm Hildenbrand, George W. McNulty, Samuel R. Probasco, E. F. Farrington — Master Mechanic. A second plaque reads BROOKLYN BRIDGE RECONSTRUCTION 1954, Design and construction supervised by the Department of Public Works.

Good views of the Manhattan Bridge and the new Frank Gehry-designed skyscraper can be had walking the span of the Brooklyn Bridge, as well as distant views of the Statue of Liberty. Walking here was a truly international-feeling activity– so many languages could be heard, so many styles of wearing apparel, shoes, and purses, bags,

Brooklyn Bridge as seen from the DUMBO (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass) area of Brooklyn.

and totes could be seen. A light mood was shared by all who walked across a great American landmark.

In my post describing Memphis, Tennessee, home for the last twenty-six years, I mention “supremely urban” New Yorkers, in the context of whether they desire more contact with grass, tall trees, plantlife, and wildlife, or if they have made their peace with soot on the bottom of their shoes and buildings and skyscrapers dominating the landscape. Of course a recent surge in incidences of bedbugs in hotels, offices, and private residences could be counted as contact with wildlife, but . . . not really, just kidding! Having spent a week in Brooklyn visiting our son and staying at the nu hotel on Smith Street, not doing blatant touristy activities, but rather enjoying the unpretentious vibe of the borough, trying to adapt our Southernness to a neutral “don’t look or smile” while passing people in miles of street walking, I can say resoundingly that I like Brooklyn!  I liked choosing interesting spots for lunch and dinner. I like that there are bars and corner grocers with fresh flowers at every turn. I liked having a chat with a butcher in a prime red meat shop in the Cobble Hill neighborhood.

Even with riding the subway trains and hailing high-cost rides from taxi drivers, I could live in Brooklyn. Brooklyn is the largest borough of New York City. So many people work in Manhattan, but can better afford to live in the middle-class borough. The neighborhood I prefer is Park Slope, but Cobble Hill, south downtown, and Carroll Gardens also had that comfortable vibe of the working middle class, those people on the street who seemed purposeful, sturdy in health, honest, and alert to creative possibilities. Young mothers stroll babies and young toddlers into the corner grocery for the few items that can be managed, while carrying an umbrella or jacket to accommodate weather changes. There seems to be an acceptance of casual dress in Brooklyn. Casual dress would contribute to energy savings through the day.

Our son, who lives in the Park Slope neighborhood, said that functioning in Brooklyn is hard. Feeling tired with sore feet when I heard it, I took it to mean that the barage of people wanting the same things you want means that a state of constant alertness must be carried in the mind to succeed in the day’s goals. The exception?  Working-class subway patrons after quitting time:   trains are loaded with exhausted workers, sleeping with head on lap, or head tilted against the seatback.

Next in this essay, having heralded the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, I want to depict the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens of Prospect Park and the Manhattan High Line,

An artist's rendering of birdhouses accents this section of the High Line.

Delightful for over a mile, maybe two, surprises crop up every block or so. Close inhabitants create humor with cardboard statues. Small sculptures are tucked in with shrubs.

places noteworthy for the international flavor of their visitors. Walking in these places, one can hear three or four languages or more spoken by patrons. I enjoy the idea that visitors from Europe, South America, and other parts of the world are sharing the experience I am having.

"The High Line Zoo"

 

The month of May lent itself to sunshine and cool mornings and evenings. My husband and I happily walked tens of blocks carrying stuff, he a big Canon camera with a bag of lenses and a subway map, I a flat travel purse over one shoulder stuffed with a Lumix camera, bottle of water, Cocoon sunglasses (large enough to fit over eyeglasses), moleskin blank notebook and pen, lipstick, and of course our iPhones. I also tended to carry that third piece, so as not to feel chilled if a breeze came up. By the third morning starting out, I decided to wear Naot cork-footbed sandals instead of sturdy, black athletic shoes with SmartWool socks. The flatter, cooler shoe provided temporary relief, but the fact remained that older feet need horizontal rest in addition to orthotic insoles. It was during this middle part of our vacation that our son, a year-long Brooklyn resident, gave us that previously mentioned believable theme for us,  “It’s hard to live in Brooklyn.” He made breakfast for us in his flat, and we continued our walking as a threesome, which was our preference over the trains and cabs.

Off across Prospect Park and onto one of its trails we went, coming upon the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. We had a stroke of good luck– free admission for seniors on Friday. Our first stop was the array of cacti in the Desert Garden, and it  was exquisite, as were the Bonsai trees in another part of the gardens.

Having visited these lovely, well-cared-for plants, I realized that keeping my own gardens, front and back of my own property in Memphis, was indeed something that matters.

In closing this writing highlighting our Brooklyn and Manhattan vacation of May 2012, here are some last images. We went to New Haven, Connecticut after the vacation, in support of a very special friend who was receiving her MArch from Yale University. I heard an influential professor of architecture at Yale University say this in his address to the graduates:  Architecture opens people’s minds. An architect must be positive and open-minded. In all that it takes to get a building built, there is only one of all those doing the work that “loves” the building– it is the architect. I include some favorite skyscrapers of Manhattan:

Frank Gehry has built many buildings, and this is one of his latest. It seems to have twists in it.

 

 

GO TO www.createspace.com/3693096 TO ORDER MY MEMOIR

T I T L E   O F   P A T R I C I A ‘ S   M E M O I R   I S :
Ann, Patricia, Zelma, Beulah: Our 42,224 Days

Zelma Louise (upper) and Older Sister Eunice, 1941

The company providing me publishing/order-fulfillment service is CreateSpace Independent Publishing.
Hello, Readers,
I T   I S   F E B R U A R Y 18,   2 0 1 2.  An order placed today will arrive on February 29th (Leap Year).
MY MEMOIR,  A n n,  P a t r i c i a,  Z e l m a,  B e u  l a h: O u r  4 2, 2 2 4   D a y s,             WRITTEN BETWEEN THE
                                                YEARS 2006 and 2010
                                     HAS  LAUNCHED.  
                 The journey is the reward.  FINISHING A BOOK TO BRING IT TO MARKET TOOK TIME, FIVE MONTHS, and all of the time required has been put in.  
MY PUBLISHER HAS GIVEN ME AN  e-STORE  URL  FOR THE FASTEST ORDERING OF  Ann, Patricia, Zelma, Beulah: Our 42,224 Days, 170-pages, a trade paperback with thirty-nine black-and-white images, priced at $14.95.  To order:  copy and paste this into your search engine’s bar and hit the return key.
  •  http://www.createspace.com/3693096
You will then see the cover of the book and some verbiage.
All you need to do is hit “Add to Cart.”
Amazon will sell my memoir in about two weeks.

STEVE JOBS CAUGHT A TRAIN TO A STAR AT AGE 56

LOOK FOR STEVE JOBS’ (d. 10/05/11) MEMOIR in about two weeks, October 24, 2011.  The title of the book is Steve Jobs. The previous title was iSteve: The Book of Jobs. His biographer is Walter Isaacson, an author who has written a biography of Benjamin Franklin. The publisher is Simon & Schuster, and they accelerated the release date from the previous November 21st. I am sensitive to this publishing acceleration concept, in that I have a memoir on file with CreateSpace Publishing, and I am waiting for editors to release my proofs. Deadline is Friday, October 14th.

According to an article in last Friday’s New York Times, October 7, 2011, Section B (Business), Steve’s biographer asked him why he, so private a man, had consented to the questions of someone writing the memoir. The article said he gave forty interviews.  Steve’s reply was, “I wanted my kids to know me. I wasn’t always there for them, and I wanted them to know why and to understand what I did.”

Steve Jobs With Apple II Personal Computer in 1977

That’s pretty much it– an individual desires to leave an account of the life lived as best the individual could figure out how to live. We can’t even be sure that our children, our spouse, our siblings, our cousins will read the book of our life slanted our way. But we know that a few friends will, and that if the promotional writing on Amazon.com is effective, some strangers will. That is the job before me– to post some marketing verbiage on the CreateSpace site that will at the appropriate time transfer to Amazon.com. I look forward to holding my first book, approximately 5-1/4 inches by 8 inches, more than a couple of hundred pages, in my hand, a memoir entitled Ann, Patricia, Zelma, Beulah: Our 42,224 Days, and imagining loved ones and strangers alike reading it.

I am interested in the fact that Walter Isaacson, Mr. Jobs’ memoirist, chose to write a book about Benjamin Franklin. My book in two volumes about the life of Ben Franklin is entitled Benjamin Franklin: A Biography in His Own Words. It was published in 1972 by Yale University Press. Thomas Fleming and Editors of the Newsweek Book Division finished the writing Ben Franklin began. In the front of the book there is some interesting reading. The legend is that in 1788, friends urged Ben to complete the task of his famous Autobiography, begun a quarter of a century earlier. Ben’s writing was interrupted by the Revoution. Ben told his friends he was too busy living his life to write about it. (This cuts close to home!)  Ben Franklin died in 1790 having written about only the first half of his extraordinarily long and active career. He bequeathed his papers to his grandson William Temple Franklin. More than a quarter of a century passed before he produced Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Benjamin Franklin in three volumes in London in 1817. I must share a fascinating anecdote found in the Introduction of my Volume 1:  As was already mentioned, Ben laid aside his writing that was begun in 1771. It was in the form of a long letter to his son William, and it was autographed. The British occupied Philadelphia in 1777, and they requisitioned the house that Ben (arch-rebel) owned, for officers’ quarters. In the confusion of the time, the manuscript was thrown out, but rescued from the street by the sheerest chance– an old friend of Ben’s saw it lying in the gutter and recognized the handwriting. Encouraged by friends who read the manuscript, Ben resumed writing at Passy, France in 1784, where he showed portions of it to his French friends, among them M. Le Villard, mayor of the village. Not giving you all the details of the trading of manuscripts between Le Villard and Ben’s son, I will close with the fascinating fact that our American patriot, our founding father’s memoir was first published in French in 1791! It was promptly translated into English.

Many thousands of letters and other papers had been given by Ben’s grandson to a friend, Dr. George Fox of the Philadelphia area. Those manuscripts descended to his son, who stored them in a stable, and from time to time would extract samples to give to his housequests. Eventually he gave the entire collection to the American Philosophical Society. Finishing the tangental interest in an American hero of the past, I return to write more about a hero of today, the late Steve Jobs of Palo Alto, California, CEO and co-founder of Apple, Inc., home based in Cupertino, California, producer of the iPhone, iPod, iMac, and iPad.

MY FIRST CELLPHONE: Nokia Handset

The iPhone 4S, released October 4, 2011, the day before Steve Jobs died, is the newest of the Apple frequent-product-cycle refreshers. It is a smartphone I want to own. I am eligible for an upgrade, and have completed research comparing the Android Galaxy 2 at the Sprint retail store with the iPhone I really want, being a MacBook Pro satisfied user, and being the only one in my family who has not owned one. I hope to have the 4S in my hand on Friday, October 14th, the same watershed day my memoir proofs are promised from CreateSpace Independent Publishing Company. Taking my time to consider this phone in comparison to the best-selling worldwide Android on Google’s operating system (ironically, I am a Google stockholder), I settled on the choice of elegant design with which Apple is associated. Steve Jobs in the 1970s emerged as a rescuer of our culture’s design possibilities that were termed “boring” by architectural minds. Steve said that the technology the public was being presented with (by Microsoft) lacked good taste. Perhaps Jonathan Ive, Apple industrial design chief since 1996, should be acknowledged. He is said to be a background worker who revitalized the line of Apple products and is known for attention to detail.

From what I understand, the new iPhone 4S has a faster microprocessor than the 4. Time will tell if I get interested in apps. If so, my new phone will run them at high speed. I know already that I want the app that measures decibels of sound. Now, can I get a heart-rate monitor on this smartphone? A feature I definitely am into is photography by phone handset, and the 4S has a more powerful camera than the 4. Otherwise, this new edition is the 4, a great phone, say retail people. I enjoyed selecting a red case, and it wasn’t easy, considering the large selection of protective boxes and covers, and then I exchanged it for white. Soon I will enter a bright new world, kissing goodbye my Sprint Instinct of four or more years, a great little handset.

STEVE JOBS GOT HIS LIVER TRANSPLANT IN MEMPHIS IN 2009. His hospital was Methodist University Hospital and his surgeon was Dr. James Eason. Steve moved into a stately house to live in on Morningside Drive of midtown, remodeled to lessen noise of traffic from East Parkway and FedEx jet noise from the overhead flight pattern. The new liver gave him thirty more months of life, and Steve spoke so highly of his children that we imagine him back in Palo Alto at home talking with them and exchanging hugs in those last months. Steve was quoted as saying that having four children was 10,000 times better than anything he had ever done.

Any readers out there buying memoirs on Amazon.com this fall and winter– Steve’s, or mine? It would be so nice if you posted a comment! Thank you for considering the idea.

MY MOTHER, LOUISE, A 1940s BEAUTY

For some photo buffs of old photographs, good-looking, fashion-conscious women who came of age in 1940 hold a mystique.  In my mother’s case, south-central Texas girls finished high school at age seventeen, and knew they could attract an ambitious man, even if war service had to be factored in to a marriage.  This was a time in American history when young ladies pulled up their nylons that were not pantyhose and fastened them to restraining undergarments (girdles and garter belts).  Slim ankles did not go unnoticed, accented by pumps and gracefully hanging skirts that graced the tops of calves.  And who wouldn’t appreciate the cascades of curls or waves swept back with bobby pins?  My mother’s face, fascinating for its hazel eyes, skin tone, and countenance, resembled the young Katharine Hepburn (b. 1907, d. 2003), Hollywood star, recipient of four Academy Awards.

Young Women of Early 1940s: Inez, Mary, Dorothy, Louise

Postage Stamp of Katharine Hepburn (Date of Issue 05/12/2010)


President Obama’s American Jobs Act

New York Times Drawing By Paul Sahre & Erik Carter, June 19, 2011

Severe Bipartisan Disagreement

On television this evening at 6 PM Central Time, viewers heard President Barack Obama address a joint session of Congress in the U.S. House of Representatives.  The speech was not a state of the union address, but rather an urgent dealing with a stagnant economy in a time of severe partisan disagreement, a “political circus,” to use Mr. Obama’s words.   The first such speech, in the past, was about health care.  The purpose of tonight’s speech was stated by Mr. Obama to be “Put people back to work; put money in their pockets.” He also stated that our economic recovery will be “driven by business and workers.”  He asked, “Can we actually do something to help the economy?”  His plan is titled American Jobs Act.

Unfolding the specifics of the American Jobs Act legislation tonight, and it incudes writing by Republicans, the president said he will give a tax cut to small businesses if they hire, and also if they give raises to employees.  A comment by a political analyst after the speech put a damper on that– reminding that businesses hire based on business rather than tax relief; i.e., if businesses get more business, they hire.  However, Representative Eric Cantor, R, VA, Majority Leader, stated to CBS’s Bob Schieffer that he could agree with the president on small business tax relief.

Other specifics Mr. Obama mentioned were getting teachers back to work and hiring veterans.  Also, that young people need the hope and dignity of a summer job.  Middle-class taxpayers will again receive a $1,500 tax cut, if Congress passes this legislation right away, which they should do, Mr. Obama repeated many times.  He stated that he will release a debt plan one week from Monday September 12th, saying, “We have to reform Medicare/Medicaid to strengthen it.”

The anecdote about Warren Buffet added interest, in that he asked the government to fix the unfairness of his paying taxes at a lower level than his secretary, attributable to tax breaks and loopholes.  Mr. Obama stated that government should not give an advantage to big corporations who can afford lobbyists.  Instead, give an advantage to companies who put people to work.  “Keep loopholes for the wealthiest? he asked, “or help the middle class?  We can’t afford to do both.”

Talk of returning manufacturing to the United States had the sound of the ring of truth, an idea whose time has come (back).  The president wants to speed up the patent process for inventors.  He wants South Koreans to drive Fords, Chevys, and Chryslers.  He has brought together a Jobs Council for developing ideas, such as training ten thousand engineers per year so that we are competitive with China and Europe for the long haul. Just as Abraham Lincoln, in the middle of the Civil War, initiated construction of transcontinental railroads, created the National Academy of Science, and thought up land-grant colleges, so must we now let go of a rigid idea of government and look farther down the road.

Mr. Obama closed with the assurance to big business that although he will allow deregulation if the regulation does not pass a common sense test, he will not wipe out basic protections Americans have counted on for decades.  He is a definite “NO,” to stripping away collective bargaining rights.  It was an effective half-hour speech wherein the president said what needed to be said.  Some of his closing words were “Let’s meet the moment!”, and “Let’s get to work!” Bob Schieffer’s last comment was that in regard to President Obama’s tone, Mr. Obama believes the people are with him.

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE, My View From Out East Over Twenty-six Years

Going back through files in Word to finalize chapters for the publication of my memoir, I decide to post some of the writing about Memphis on patnotes.com, writing that is neutral in flavor or slanted toward the positive.  I have to admit, after reading this particular post, I must have a fondness for, and enjoy living in Memphis.

A reason for posting the Memphis writing on the first day in September is that Labor Day Weekend is upon us, and people may be visiting relatives and friends in Memphis.  Labor Day is the public holiday of the US and Canada held in honor of working people on the first Monday of September.  Labor Day is celebrated on May 1st in some countries.  If you are a patnotes.com reader and headed to Memphis, write me a comment, please.  I would enjoy hearing from someone out there, now and then.  Thank you very much!

Sculpture in Seattle, Washington, In Homage To Labor Force

THOUGHTS ABOUT MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE, PLACE OF TALL TREES

            Memphis, Tennessee, my home for twenty-six years, is tree rich.  Tall, straight trees, deciduous and otherwise, abound.  Memphis is reputed to have the longest growing season of any major city.  This means that a twelve-year-old tree can get up to thirty feet in height, as compared to, say, Texas, a place of less plenteous soaking rains.  Even before the 2011 drought, Texas trees would tend to scratch out a height of a dozen gnarly feet in the same number of years.  Memphis rains come in any style.  They come gently, come as soakers, come as downpours, and come as severe thunderstorms.  They sometimes come with straight-line, gale-force winds, and occasionally with the twisting winds as do the tornadoes of Texas and Arkansas or the hurricanes of Florida.  Lightening lights up the sky, and the thunder booms and frightens, and yet, from my perspective, all seems well, for the most part.  This is different from the Texas big-sky gully-washers that scare people to death and yet do not end the droughts.  Memphis is much farther east than Dallas, my city of birth and rearing, and much farther east and north than San Antonio, my second home because of in-laws there that we visit several times a year, and it being our home for five years in the 1980s.  My opinion of the climate of Memphis, Tennessee is that these unexpected variations in weather through the four distinct seasons are a strong point of marketing this city.  I enjoy the changes the weather here brings to daily life.

Going back to the descriptive trait of tall trees, I will bring up a negative resultant trait:  the grey squirrel population.  It is worrisome, the number of healthy, muscular, bushy-tailed mating pairs that populate the numerous tall trees.  If only these invasive pests could be the cute red squirrels of Britain of the past!  What a difference a property-owner would feel if the scampering, tree-spiraling, acorn-burying critters were the slower, red-coated animals, very much favored in England, now overrun by the large greys.

I like to contrast where I live to New York City, which claims to be green, yet long ago cut down its trees to build skyscrapers, except for Central Park.  The Big Apple does have claim to other parks, and does indeed have a lighter ecological footprint than one would imagine. New Yorkers are said to have a smaller carbon footprint than other states because New York City dwellers do not keep cars as a rule, a big factor in air pollution, a big factor in the footprint. To my way of thinking, a city’s carbon footprint is related to how alert and at the ready the movers and shakers of a place are.  Mayors, Governors, investors in the private sector, well-run conservation societies for land and structures, and leagues for grassroots influence make a difference.  Sometimes when I try to overcome a burgeoning tree-squirrel population, in a battle for the dominance of my property, I think of those supremely urban New York City folks, walking among the skyscrapers and riding the subways, and their talk of soot tracked into their homes on their shoes.  What a contrast to the lawns and streets of Memphis, Tennessee.  I wonder if Central Park affords New Yorkers complete satisfaction in communion with wildlife and wild plants.

When it comes to gardening and yard work, Memphis’s wild violets, a groundcover so rampant as to illustrate the concept of perfect natural selection, reign supremely and  ubiquitously over well-tended gardens and manicured yards.  The wild violet is a four-stemmed, heart-shaped-leafed weed.  A yard-worker in Memphis has two options for pulling them up by the roots:  you pull by the mature root ball (when the plant says you can), because it has lived sufficiently, or you use a forked thin probe, a “weeder.”  There may be one exception—sometimes a dozen or so of the wild violet babies can be rolled up out of damp soil, several at a time, because their tender roots have not dug deep.  It is dexteritously satisfying to the gardener to grab the mature stems of the five-inch green plant low down close to the moist soil and feel the roots let go.  I have pulled so many of these at one sitting (I sit on a wooden wine box), that the tips of my fingers become sore and my brain indelibly printed with the image of the plant.  I have drawn it, watercolored it, and sent the art to a friend on a postcard.  The wild violets grow in between cracks in the brick walk, and they grow all through the landscaping– nestling in with the Creeping Jenny and Ajuga groundcovers.  Wild violets find their way into potted plants—it is irrational.  They pop up in a fertilized, herbicided, mown front yard of grass.  These lively and tenacious green critters, sweet when looked upon individually, are entirely too aggressive.  I suppose the Texas equivalent would be the Spanish moss in trees.

Having established that my city is green, green in the sense that a Memphian meets nature coming and going, I progress to describing a business view of Memphis, a view that a Chamber of Commerce or public relations firm would release:  Memphis is America’s distribution center, having sprung to life almost two hundred years ago on the banks of the Majestic Mississippi River as a gateway to middle America.  Memphis was the cotton planter’s launch pad to the world.  In about 1870, fifty percent of all U.S. cotton crops were bought and sold here.  Cotton turned the wheels of the Southern economic engine at every step of the way.

Three-quarters of the nation's cotton was being grown within 200 miles of Memphis at the turn of the twentieth century. By river and rail, cotton rumbled into the city.

Memphis is promoted as excellently suited for companies wanting to consolidate inventory at one multi-regional base.  Many millions of tons of logs and other bulk commodities are shipped out of Memphis on barges every year.  “Memphis is the largest hardwood lumber market in the world . . . and The National Hardwood Lumber Association was founded in Memphis in 1898 and sets grading standards for hardwood lumber.  The inspection school trains more than 240 students each year,” states a 1984 promotional booklet published by BellSouth Corporation.

The most famous public-trading company in Memphis is Federal Express, whose multitude of airplanes come and go seemingly continuously out of a hub near the Memphis International Airport, a medium hub size facility, home base of Delta-Northwest Airlines.  For a Memphian lunching on the patio of Bosco’s, a midtown pub and grill situated in the flight pattern, she or he would count nine Fed Ex planes overhead during a one-hour lunch.

Another well-known company relocated to Memphis from Connecticut in recent history—International Paper.  Thought of as a conservative group of white-collar workers, the administrative branch of the company built an alluring campus of blue-toned highrises.  The pretty surroundings, obviously with tall trees, have peaceful walking paths, flowerbeds, and shrubs for workers and persons doing business there to enjoy.

There is much development in medicine and the health sciences in Memphis.  New buildings have increased the outreach.  The University of Tennessee Health Science Center serves our state and the entire country in the training of doctors, dentists, nurses, physical therapists, and other health providers.  The faculty have achieved a high ranking among medical schools.  Regarding hospitals, our “Med,” serving three states, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas, is known for cutting-edge technology and for treating trauma cases in rapid time.  Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center has expanded and built a state-of-the-art treatment center.  Many other strengths abound in Memphis:  a vibrant downtown emphasizing residential restorations, an excellent baseball stadium for Redbirds, feeder team to St. Louis Cardinals, The Peabody Hotel—“The South’s Grand Hotel,” Beale Street for Blues Music, bars, and strolling late at night, Grizzlies NBA Fed Ex Forum, Trolley Ride from the bluffs to “The Pinch,” an old émigré neighborhood near St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  The trolley passes the National Civil Rights Museum, one of a kind in the world.  The downtown area has Mud Island featuring a paved miniature Mississippi River, a Mark Twain-themed museum, an outdoor concert arena, and a monorail to transport you to the island.  Furthermore, downtown has a stunning Chinese Art Museum on Main Street, near the antique Orpheum Theatre, which has a gilt ceiling and immense glass chandelier.  The Cannon Symphonic Hall is modern and thoroughly appreciated by music lovers and ballet goers.  Out east, in a suburban area approximately a dozen miles from downtown, the Wolf River Trail has been built with private money.  This is a wonderful outdoor-exercise addition to the popular Shelby Farms, a huge preserve with buffalo, too many geese to count, Patriot Lake with canoeing and paddle-boating, and hiking and biking trails.

PATRICIA’S FAVORITES – SIGHTSEEING  (updated 03/11)

 1)  Lobby of The Peabody Hotel, “The South’s Grand Hotel”

Whether or not you see the trained ducks march to or from their Italian Marble Fountain, carved all from one piece and topped with a live floral magnificent display, come to this space, so memorable architecturally and for people-watching, listening to piano, and sipping a beverage.  Be sure to look up at the ceiling!

2)  Trolley Ride:  On June 29th of 2007, ran until 1 AM

Stand at any corner on Main or Riverside; trolley runs every 10 or 12 minutes all day, every day; fare = $1

To “Ride The Loop”, which gives you a look from “The Bluffs/Bluffwalk”, get on the Yellow Line, between “The Pinch” District (north) and G. E. Patterson (south), where Arcade Restaurant (540 S Main) serves, near National Civil Rights Museum.

3)  Chinese Art Museum in Peabody Place Museum, 119 S. Main Street, Pembroke Square, Concourse Level, 901 523-ARTS, www.belz.com, 10 AM – 5:30 PM and Noon till 5 on Sat/Sun.

See a breathtaking private collection of the Belz Family– Fu Dogs, Jade, rich woods, reds, so beautiful!

4)  Cotton Museum, 65 Union Av., 901 531-7826, $5, Tues-Sat 10 – 5, Sun Noon – 5; Cotton ran the Southern economic engine.  This museum is new.

5)  The Orpheum Theatre, west of Beale Street, has been restored to old grandeur with gilt walls and a magnificent crystal chandelier.  Film series in summer.

6)  Redbirds Stadium, Union St. @ 3rd & 4th is a local source of excellence architecturally. As I understand it, private money built it, and it got all the state-of-the-art designs. Memphis’ AAA Redbirds feed the St. Louis Cardinals.

7)  Completed in 2011, Wolf Trail, Humphreys Blvd. @ Shady Grove/Baptist Women’s Hospital area, attracts walkers, bicycle riders, moms with babies in strollers, dogs on leashes, and nature lovers in general. A beautiful bridge of Ipe wood, rusted iron, and silver wire span the Wolf River.

8) The Racquet Club, Sanderlin between White Station and Mendenhall, hosts a professional tennis tournament each February. It is easy to park for $5 nearby, walk to the facility, and buy a ticket for the day or night, priced at $30 or $40. I get up-close-and-personal with famous players.

9) Lifetime Fitness Center of Collierville, Just north of the intersection of Poplar and Houston-Levee Rd., this big place has many members. I spend several hours each week with inspiring coaches in dance class or core work, or just riding the elliptical machine and doing mat work.

RESTAURANTS

1)  Huey’s for a juicy “World Famous” Burger; try the thick breaded red onion rings; try anything for “Pub Grub”; extra-casual; so casual you can write on the walls.

2)  The Rendevous, for barbeque, has astounding “Southern” Black Culture effects.  This restaurant is amazing, attracting dignitaries constantly.  It is in an alley near Holiday Inn Select.

3)  “Daily Grill” at The Westin offers a comfortable meat & veggies dinner or lunch with excellent service.  You look out at the Fed EX Forum.

4)  Encore has one of the best chefs in town and is elegant and pricey.

6)  Paulette’s (formerly in midtown) is a local treasure for French Country Fine Dining.   901  260-3300.  Relocated to River Inn, 50 Harbor Town Square (in downtown) March of 2011, (riverinnmemphis.com).

7)  Boscos, for a thin-crusted pizza and Famous Flaming Stone Beer, 2120 Madison Av., 901  432-2222.

8) Swanky’s Tacos, Poplar @ Kirby, southwest corner, never disappoints foodwise, and has a lively vibe. Their enchilada plate is good.

9)  Humdinger’s, behind Chick-Fil-A on Poplar @ Massey, serves African-spiced fillets of fish:  Tilapia, Red Snapper, and other. Sauteed zuchinni and other sides are delicious as well.

10) Interim Restaurant, Sanderlin near Mendenhall, across from The Racquet Club, has a pretty bar area out front of dining area. Dining room shows well because of its modern kitchen on view to diners.  901 818-0821, 5040 Sanderlin Av.

About Louise

 

My Mother, Louise, About 1940

What makes a writer write?  We are geared for reflecting, and we value putting language onto memories, and some of us do it for the sake of helping others keep tuned to the positive traits of their humanness, such as kindness.  Writers in the memoir genre may involve ourselves in nuanced descriptions of a childhood memories, which helps readers tap into their feelings of love, appreciation, or other emotions about their mothers or parent figures.  If I write human-interest stories (interesting enough to attract readers) that build a backstory on behalf of mothering, I will have helped our society’s next generation.

It is hard to put language on the intense love daughters have for their mothers.  One could start by saying that we daughters came out of our mothers’ bodies and suckled from our mothers’ breasts, which says quite a bit.  And then, we suckled our own babies and understood the unique bond.  But beyond those biological realities, it is next to impossible to describe what it feels like to be a daughter thinking about her mother, living or deceased.

I cannot imagine a mother of reasonable health unable to identify the immense positive emotion that accompanies the carrying, birthing, suckling, and rearing of a baby.  And even beyond those wonderful experiences, a mother of a daughter stands to gain something great later– another woman friend for life.  The two have an eternally braided history.

Daughters love their mothers. I honor the mother-daughter relationship.

My Mother Louise With Her Mother Beulah, About 1940 in South Central Texas

My mother was good at being neighborly, and she was a strong communicator as a sibling, disciplined in regular telephoning.  Mama was the seventh of seven children.  Like clockwork, she would put in a phone call to some of her brothers and sisters or their spouses.  “Tell everybody hello!” was a common expression among our relatives, used to close out every phone chat.  “I love you” was also freely spoken in our family.

Mama Dialogue:  Mama, we had warmth between us.  It stemmed from your keen eye and ear.  You were a constant psychologist/psychoanalyst, never missing anything of the heart.  You were not in a hurry.  Your key trait was availability.  Your children and husband had you 110%.  Nothing interested you more than giving attention to your children and husband.  If we needed guiding or correction, you had the background of the issue at hand, because you had been alert to its development.  The things that you did were plain and simple good mothering.  I do not know how to thank you or detail to anyone what it has meant.  Even when my older sister Glenda and I have tried to describe your skill in mothering, we end up sounding like elite braggarts.  We just thank our lucky stars for you and Daddy, and the love that you gave each other that created us and our little sister, who we got to “mother” along with you beginning in 1956.

The kind of love for mothers by their daughters I am attempting to describe is akin to the gratitude someone might feel toward an insightful physical therapist or chiropractor that has a healing gift.  Although never licensed as a nurse, Mother’s nursing orientation showed itself frequently to me, a school kid who caught every sore throat that came along.  Every cold and flu season I was one infection away from going to the hospital to have my huge tonsils taken out.  This went on from first through third grade.  Once my fever was so high I lay in bed talking about the things I saw on the wall that were not really there.  Much later I learned the term—“hallucination.”  What I knew at that tender time was simply that Mama watched me when I was at home sick, missing school.  Whether sore throat, ear ache, three-day measles, three-day measles again, red measles, or chicken pox, I went to bed, and Mama watched me closely, checking my temperature with a mercury thermometer under the tongue and bringing me liquids ranging from water, to chicken noodle soup, to warm Jell-O.  These accompanied my saltines for easy digestion.  In those days, tonsils were swabbed with merthiolate on a six-inch-long wooden Q-tip by some mothers.  I had that kind of mom-nurse.

In the years before school, Mama, without a shadow of a doubt, checked on me, keeping me from harm, as she went about her remarkable sewing.  She had a gift for it and loved it for many years.  She did so many things to make a clean, happy home out of that little house on Avenue I, the house I was born into, and that my sister Debbie was born into eight years later.  It was a good neighborhood.  What a kind and engaging family Carl, Nadine, LaWanda, and Sandy were.  We would never be able to express the huge good fortune lasting two generations that was the experience of living next door to that family.

There, you now have a few words from my memoir about my mother, Zelma Louise.

Happy 50th Birthday, Mr. President!

President Barack Obama has Greyed Some After 2-1/2 Years In Office

President Obama yesterday experienced his fiftieth birthday, and I hope that he had some pleasantries to take his mind off trouble in the country and the world.  The job of being the American President right now is a big one.  Having a birthday can be fun, at any age.  May he enjoy some fun in honor of his life for the coming days, and even, as a close friend says, celebrate for the entire “season” of your birthday!

PROPERTY MAINTENANCE: Ninety-foot Trees Artfully Trimmed

Caring for outdoor property can be richly rewarding.  Our summer of 2011 investment in the artfulness and health of our tall trees proved to be a memorable spectator experience, almost like watching performance art.  For three days, we observed a skilled Tree Crew work to beautify old oak trees of almost a hundred feet in height. The climber deftly pruned the small limbs and foliage, as though the trees were sculptures, and then his ground crew, with ropes and chain saws, gently swung any big limbs he cut onto the ground, sawed them small for carrying, and rid the yard of all debris efficiently.  My husband and I photographed the crew extensively.  I post a couple of photos for your enjoyment.

Pablo, preparing to go up 75 feet in the bucket, then walk out, spikes on soles

PABLO, Tree Worker, Climber

Four men on the ground watch the climber.

"Out On A Limb," but with harnesses, spikes, & manlifts, the meaning changes.

 

I have a habit of searching through a book I’ve had for forty years, Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, for a poetic turn of phrase.  For this post in patnotes.com, I read a dozen or so quotes listed in the index under the word “trees.”   Nothing interested me much except these sentences by a Japanese writer, Matsuo Basho (1644-1694).  He lived a short life, a fact making these lines meaningful:

“My body, now close to fifty years of age, has become an old tree that bears bitter peaches,

a snail which has lost its shell,

a bagworm separated from its bag;

it drifts with the winds and clouds that know no destination.”


in Anthology of Japanese Literature, edited by Donald Keene (1955)