Song

(above photo:  My Mother and I,  1958, when I was 16.  We lived on Wilshire Blvd. Just west of the Beverly Hills City Limits sign on Wilshire.)

Although I’ve changed from Z to A during my 74 years, there hasn’t been any change in my taste in music since I was first cognizant that music existed.  Not totally true.  When I was a teenage in the 1950’s, I listened to more popular music than I do now.  But, popular music then was much different than it is now.

I was raised by a single mother.  My Mother’s musical taste was formed in the big band era.  She had a large record collection, and since I heard so much of the big bands, I liked that music, too, more than I did the popular music of the 1950’s.

However, my taste varied somewhat from that of my Mother.   I never went for the popular groups or the popular female singers of the 1950’s, but I loved Judy Garland, Lena Horne, Chris Conner.  We both liked Billy Eckstine, whom I met years later.  When I met him I was in an office belonging to Redd Foxx, when he came in.  I called my Mother immediately to tell her I had just met Billy Eckstine.  I was so excited to share this experience with her because he was one of the few common interests we had as I was growing up

However, I always liked classical or semi-classical music more than popular, which my Mother didn’t share eventhough she studied piano for 10 years.  When she was growing up parents often thought it a social advantage to have a daughter who could play the piano, so many girls were forced to learn to play even though they had no musical talent.  That was my Mother.

In my 20’s, I visited many of the jazz clubs in Los Angeles, and met many musicians.  However, I always had a hard time talking to musicians, because even though I liked music, I didn’t have much knowledge of it, and didn’t know how to talk about it.  I also discovered that the jazz musicians I met could talk about nothing else.

I also love jass pianists like Erroll Gardner & Oscar Peterson.

https://youtu.be/DAjIwTqyDZE?list=FLg6Rzlt8HlY0BX8JhSa43aAI met Dizzy Gillaspe twice, once in San Francisco, where he took me for coffee,  and once in L.A., but we had little in common.  When he asked me out for coffee, I hardly knew who he was.  If I had been aware of what a great legend he already was, I probably would have been too shy to talk with him.  Only later did I learn that he was best friends with Charlie Parker, whom I like more than any other jazz musician.

The best of Dizzie.

To cut to the chase.  I will say what I like best at this time, on this day, of my life, which is turning out longer than I ever expected:  thank God.  All my favorite music is on my site on Youtube

Presently I love the music of John Corigliano and ,

 https://youtu.be/Mc_-OlC1JQs?list=FLg6Rzlt8HlY0BX8JhSa43aA

Chaos on Wall Street

In response to the Daily Blogging Prompt Chaos

Yesterday, I watched on video the film “The Big Short.”  The first time I watched it, I could hardly understand anything at all even when they were demonstrating examples of an idea with a visual metaphor.  However, I thought I would give it another try, and the second time I watched it, I understood much more, but not everything.  I had an IRA that I cashed in around 2006.  I always regretted doing that, but if I hadn’t I might have lost it or some of it in 2008.

However, the film did remind me of a few jobs I had on Wall Street back in the 1970’s, when I worked as an office temp.

One job I will never forget even though it was only for one day. There were two brothers who shared an office and they screamed at each other all day long without any intermissions.  When they weren’t screaming and fighting with each other, they were yelling into their phones.   Later in the day, their father showed up.  With his sons yelling in the background, I looked at him as though I couldn’t believe that his two sons were for real.  The father calmly said his sons were just relieving tension, or letting off steam.  He smiled and as though it were nothing, and that I shouldn’t pay any attention to it.

Before or after that day, I never worked in an office with that continual level of anxiety.  To go through something like that day after day, a person would really have to love money.

The man who was my immediate boss that day was much calmer, but still rather tense. He acted as though the two brothers constant screaming in abject anger, as it appeared to me, was nothing.  It just went with the job.

At this time, I had just graduated from college.  My boss asked what my major was, and I replied “English.”  He looked at me as if I were totally nuts and as much told me so.  Who in the world majored in English.  There wasn’t any money in that.  Later in the day, he realized that he had been quite curt to me when I told him my major:  he tried to amend his tone by saying something nice about English.  I can’t remember what, but it was just silly to me, because I knew how he really felt about it.

After that day I don’t remember ever working in the Wall Street area again.

Aging: The Physical Disaster

In response to the Daily Post Prompt:  Disaster

I find that even though I, at 73, can still walk quite a lot and exercise at the gym 2 or 3 times a week, physical activity makes me increasingly more tired.

Yesterday, I took the #17 Express Bus from Staten Island to 14th Street and 7th Avenue where I like to go for my favorite shopping in Manhattan.  Walked up 7th to 17th Street where I shopped at Bed, Bath & Beyond, Michaels, Blick’s Art Supply, Lowes, which are all in a 2-block radius, then walked back to 14th and Broadway, where I shopped at Blick’s once again, but at another one of their stores. Afterwards trapsed* over to Whole Foods, before catching the Express Bus home at 14th and Broadway.

Once, home I was totally exhausted like I have never been before.  While trying out my new paint markers from Blick’s, my eyes began to close.  I forced them open, but eventually I couldn’t any longer.  Fell asleep and slept for 3 hours.  Got up for about an hour to do the dished, then when back to sleep until morning.  The last time I did the same Manhattan routine, only a few weeks ago, I wasn’t nearly as tired. This was the most tired, I ever remember being, and I know as I age, it will just get worse.  It used to get a little worse every few years, then it was every few months, now it seems it’s every few weeks.

One can exercise and diet and keep active, but you can’t control the increasing amount of tiredness that comes after the physical activity.  Except, maybe, by praying.

Psalm 103:5

God, renew my energy when I am tired.

*I looked up the word “trapsed” to make sure I spelled it correctly, and the dictionary says it’s archaic.  This is a normal word in my vocabulary.  I guess using vocabulary that is now considered “archaic” is another symptom of aging.

**Header photo, Chelsea district in Manhattan, near where I went yesterday.  I took photo a couple of years ago while walking “The Highline.”

 

 

 

The “R”Train

In response to the Daily Post Writing Prompt: Money for Nothing

A few years back, I had just come from having an over-priced Irish Coffee at The Boat House in Central Park.  After walking through Central Park, I boarded the “R” train to take me to 14th Street, where I planned on shopping at Whole Foods before catching the express bus back to Staten Island.

Sitting on the subway, for some unknown reason I fixed my eye on a man sitting across the aisle from me.  The young man was exceptionally well dressed in sports clothing and immaculate looking.  He looked as though he might be some kind of designer.  Also I surmised that he might be gay. After about a minute, another man sitting in front of me began conversing with me.  This man seemed to be a tourist and began the conversation by asking me where he could find City Hall.  I told him what stop he should get off from the subway.  I found him attractive.  Both of us were 60-ish.  We were getting acquainted with small talk, when the subway came to its next stop.

The first man, who looked like a designer, sitting across the aisle from me got up from his seat.  He stuffed something into my folded hand and ran off the subway car.

I opened up my hand.  It was a $100 bill.  I quickly closed my hand again in disbelief.  The man I was talking to smiled and said, “Does this happen to you often?”  I said it had never happened to me before.  He could see it was money.  He asked me how much it was, but, I being a suspicious New Yorker said that I would rather not say.

14th Street was the next stop and I departed.  I have a card that has my blog address on it that I hand out occasionally to people with whom I would like to have more contact. I have been sorry ever since that I hadn’t given a card to the pleasant man I had been talking to, but all I could think of was the money and how I was going to have a good time at Whole Foods.

 

 

Another Day on the Subway

In response to the Daily Post Blog Prompt:  Fleeting

What I was doing in Queens 5 years ago, I can’t remember, but I know it was time to start home.  Caught the subway to take me into Bowling Green in Manhattan from there I could catch the ferry to take me back to Staten Island.

The subway was moderately crowded, full, but everyone had a seat.  I sat down on one of those side bench-like seats that face another long line of seats across the aisle.  I barely noticed the young man, 30-ish, sitting next to me, a hippie-type, bearded, cheaply, but adequately dressed for the cold weather; however, I did notice that balanced on his lap was a small oriental-designed chest. Immediately, he began a conversation.  When I take the subway hardly anyone ever looks at me, let alone talks to me.  Since I was a 67-year-old woman, and looked nothing like a hippie, I was surprised that a man of his age would want to talk to me, but I didn’t discourage his conversation.  He told me how he discovered that one could buy marijuana over the counter in a market in Chinatown.   I didn’t know how he could tell that I would be a person interested in this kind of information, as I was.

He opened the oriental-style box on his lap to show me.  The box was full of what appeared to be small cellophane-wrapped packages of marijuana.  After a quick peak on my part, he closed the lid.  I asked him what it was called and he said this Chinese name.  I took out a pen to write it down, but only got about half of it written down when the subway came to my stop, and I had to depart, before I got the entire name written down.  I tried googling the information I had managed to get, but never could find anything.

 

The Window at Work

Response to the Post Daily  Word Prompt:  Window

The year was 1981 or 2, hard now to keep all the years separate.  I was working as a secretary for a successful architectural firm, on Clay Street, in the Chinatown area of San Francisco.  This was just the beginning of the computer era.  I typed on a Wang word processor which was what all the big offices were using in the early eighties, but in a few years would be replaced by the first computers, which didn’t even have windows yet.

I didn’t want to be a secretary, I wanted to be a photographer.

My desk was near the front of this big window, as pictured in the above photo, which looked out over Clay Street.  In the photo these two architects are standing between me and the window.  Many of my photos were taken out of and in front of this window.  The light from it was tremendous.  In those days almost all my photos were in black and white, from which I developed the film and printed myself at a public photo lab that anyone could go to for a small monthly fee.  I spent almost all my spare money on camera and photo supplies, experimenting with all kinds of photo papers.  I loved making big photos on 11″ x 14″ very heavy textured paper, which then I would hand tint.  (I reproduce some of them below in addition to the above.)

Even though I was only a secretary, I took photos of all the company’s employees, and the office interior, when I had any spare time.  Everyone seemed to love my photos except for the woman who was my immediate superior.  She looked down on them and me.  This woman, the office manager and a Partner in the firm, was the office manager, an administrator, who had no artistic leanings whatsoever, but was good at her job of running the business side of the office.  She didn’t care for my artistic interests and tried to discourage them, but I persisted in spite of her.  Since others, including the President and the other Partners of the firm liked my photos and often posed for me, she couldn’t stop me completely from taking them.  I only took people photos, which was part of my job I did on my own.  They had a professional photographer who did the architectural photography.

This office also had a beautiful roof, which I could go out onto and take photos.  The other employees were very happy to go up on the roof and pose for me.  I would give them the photos I took of them, which I had printed myself on good photo paper and often 8″ x 10″.

The firm was getting ready to put out an advertising brochure.  I was asked to take photos of the architects for the brochure, which I did.  The woman I worked for didn’t like them, and hired a professional photographer to come in and redo the job I had already done.  My desk was in front of the office manager’s office, so the professional photographer saw all my photos that had displayed around my desk as he came in.  He couldn’t see anything wrong with them, liked them, and wondered why they hired him.  Of course, he was asked to take his photos right in front of my desk, which he did, with all his lights and cameras.   For some unexplainable reason, the Office Manager didn’t like this professional photographer’s photos either.  She couldn’t very well use mine without losing face, so the company’s brochure had no photos of the people who worked in the firm including the Partner and President’s, Frank Tomsick or the founder Gerald McCue.  The Office Manager was an important person in this firm, because she ran the business side of the firm, which the architects didn’t want to be bothered with, including the President.

I did get paid extra for my photography.  I would charge them a few dollars for every photo that they used for some purpose, but what I charged was only enough to cover my printing expenses.  I was happy with this because what I made on the side paid for my photography habit.  Also, on my own, I made up a brochure, just for the employees, showing photos of the employees who worked there, which I did on my own and was not compensated for. I gave a copy of the booklet to every employee, which I believe were around 80.

New positions in the firm came up, that including doing photography, that I qualified for and easily could have done.  However, these jobs were given to people from outside the office, who were less qualified than myself and not as good of a photographer and everyone knew that.    I was also a college graduate, so my lack of education was not a factor.  It seems that in the name of justice, these outside people that the Office Manager gave these jobs to, never worked out.  I often ended up doing most of their job myself.  They often did more harm than good to the firm, before being fired.

After two years, finally realizing that they were never going to let me be anything other than a secretary–and I was a very good one–I quit my job.  I never again worked for an architectural firm, but I have always retained a great love for, and interest in architecture. It was an interesting experience, which I’m grateful for.

 

Gerald McCue
Gerald McCue, Founding Partner of the firm, and a Dean of the Graduate School of Architecture, Harvard University. A couple of years ago, Harvard University phoned me and said this was a great photo of him and wanted permission to use it in an exhibition they were having. This firm designed some important buildings in the Silicon Valley at this time.

 

FrankTomsick
Frank Tomsisk, FAIA, San Francisco architect and President of MBT Associates Architects, San Francisco.  Posed outside on the fire escape with view of Nob Hill in the back ground.  Frank died last May.  I still hear from some people who worked there–occasionally.

 

San Francisco
This is a selfie I took looking out my favorite window, the same one as above.  One of the few color photos I took at that time.   I loved these offices so much, I would come in on the weekends when no one was there and take photos.  Everyone who worked there had a key to the building so they could come into work whenever they wanted, but few did outside of office hours.  I think the sun was making me frown.

 

 

Post Daily Blog: Just Another Day with the Cats

In response to Just Another Day–Our days our organized around numerous small actions we repeat over and over. What’s your favorite daily ritual?_____________________________________________

For the past 4 years, every single morning between 5:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m., depending on when I wake up,  I venture outside, regardless of the weather, to feed the stray cats in my neighborhood.straycat

The same cats don’t show up every morning, but there are always two that do.  These 2 are living in the back of my building.  These two are pictured here.  Both have been in my backyard since kittens.

I was terribly worried about them during the blizzard we had this last week, but my worrying was unjustified.  They built a snow cave or igloo for themselves under some bushes and got along just fine.  I live in a senior home and we are only allowed one pet, and I have one cat of my own, so I compensate by feeding the strays.  My building supervisors don’t particularly like this, but they tolerate it.  I have to be very discreet, or other tenants complain.  It’s a good thing that I’m only allowed one pet, because I would probably have an apartment full of them, if it weren’t for this rule.

This morning ritual gives me something to get me out of bed for in the mornings.  I also like feeling needed.  I usually put the coffee pot on, and drink my morning coffee after I get back from feeding the cats, while checking my e-mail, then going on twitter and Pinterest, currently my 2 favorite sites.  I forgot to mention I also feed the birds and squirrels, too, right after I feed the cats.  This is my morning ritual.

blackcat