Monday, August 18, 2014

My family and reading or why I love to read.

Reading is a cherished memory of my family and so for me reading is a continuation of the family ties that I selected to keep.  I love reading and as far back as I can remember I read something.  My grandmother read mysteries mostly or what she termed "whodunits".  Her favorites were Perry Mason mysteries which she read over and over.  She told me it didn't matter how many times you read a book if you enjoyed and with mysteries you always knew that someone got murdered and someone did it.  Perry never lost a case and she really thought Della Street was the modern woman. 
My dad read the Bible every day - one section from the Old Testament and one section from the New.  He'd read it straight through and start over.  The other book he read everyday was the Prophecies of Nostradamus.  He really believed in it.  Years later I found a reprint of the edition he used to own and I bought a copy but I couldn't get into it. 

But really it was my Mother who encouraged me to read because she was the person who pretty much in charge of what I read.  I was lucky - she never censored my choices.  If the public library had it - then I could check it out.  After she got up and packed my dad's lunch and sent him on his way, she would stand over the floor heater in the living room and read from whatever book I had checked out.  My favorites were family stories, particularly Jewish families or orphan children who live in boxcars.  When I would get up, she'd be reading and would always ask what I thought about the book, What I liked about it.  She asked my opinion and we'd talk about it.  She never said anything to lead me to think my opinion was bad or my reading choices were incorrect.  She encouraged me to read and think about what I read without ever telling me not to read something.  As I grew up, I realized a gift she had given me.

The older I've become the more grateful I was given this gift.  The first object I ever saved up and bought for myself was a book on California wildflowers bought from a used book store.  I still own the book and look at it from time to time.  I still own a book my grandmother gave me for my birthday.  It was a thick adult book on animals.  I treasure these more than anything but I treasure the love of reading my family gave me more.

Monday, August 4, 2014

An old friend

  Reluctant to sound self-pitying or courageous made it difficult for me to write any earlier but guilt propelled into thinking of something a little positive.   This photo of Kwan Yin the goddess of Mercy is from an earlier time but one I truly love.    The statue itself stands on the grounds of the Elizabeth McNay museum in San Antonio, Texas.   I love that museum moreso in the past when they had less money and  were a smaller shabbier museum.  It isn't to say that I resent them growing I'm happy they do and they share wonderful art. When I first started visiting it, the museum was a shabby little forgotten gem.  Filled with Impressionist paintings and religious sculptures from the Middles Ages and New Mexico.   It was a refuge for me when I was a teenager trying to make the difficult transition from unwanted child from California to adult.  When I was in high school and was living with my aunt I would often escape from home by walking up to the museum.  It was about 4 miles away.  I would spent at least a half a day there when I went.  Walking to a nearby strip mall for an ice cream while I waited for a bus that would take me halfway home. 

I've seen glorious things there - a wonderful exhibit on Georgia O'Keefe that still leaves me with profound memories.  It was really the grounds though that gave my spirit some peace.  At that time, the McNay was overgrown and had no grounds keeping.  The Japanese fish ponds were neglected, overgrown with reeds and tall water plants and the surrounding area was full of shaggy plant and Kwan Yin was in the middle of them on a tiny island.  I think I truly loved the grounds more than anything.  In the rear of the McNay was the old greenhouse which housed the Art School there.  My friend Art worked in the pottery as well as took classes and I got to see how they did salt glazing and raku were fired.

I took this photo on a more recent trip than from my youth.  I am much older now but I greeted the statue as an old friend.  She's more grey than she used to be - Living in the middle of a large city has given her a more worn appearance as well.  I find the ponds cleaner - less over grown and shaggy.  There were less fish than there used to be.  One of the fountains is gone but more modern sculptures occupy the lawns.  Indeed there is a whole new wing that doesn't fit the original building.  It houses great art still... leaning to the late 20th and now early 21st. 

Kwan Yin is an old friend I enjoy going to see.  Sitting and reflecting the days with her - the days that used to be.  Somewhere I have a photo of her with me when I was in my late 20's.  She wears her age better than I do.