MARCH APRIL 2020 READING

We can agree these are challenging and changing times. One thing that has changed for me is the way I read. I am a daily reader, usually 8-12 books a month. However, for the months of March and April, I read only 7 books!

For the first time in recent memory, I am putting down more books than I am picking up. Below is what I read, these are not reviews.

WHAT I READ BEFORE THE STAY AT HOME

The Ensemble, A Novel –  by Aja Gabel   This is about a quartet trying to make it in the world of classical music. I found it both interesting and tedious; the descriptions of the music was interesting, the relationships were tedious.

Clock Dance by Anne Tyler   Anne Tyler never disappoints. It is the story of Willa Drake, beginning in 1967 coping with her mother’s disappearance (again).  In 1997 she is a young widow. In her second marriage, she is kind of sleep-walking through her life when she receives a phone call from a stranger prompting her to travel across the country to Baltimore to take care of the daughter of her son’s ex-girlfriend. If you love Anne Tyler – you will love this book

 

WHAT I READ DURING THE STAY AT HOME

Mary Coin by Marisa Silver   This is based on an iconic work of art,  Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange. This was a book club selection and I had trouble getting into it. However, after visiting MOMA in New York in March, I saw this photograph in an exhibition devoted to Dorothea Lange. That connection made it more compelling, so I returned to it. However, I was thirsty for the real story and the real women. I picked up a biography about Dorothea Lange, Dorothea Lange, Life Beyond Limits,  (which I have not finished) which I found more satisfying.  Oh yes, I was in New York in March on an annual art trip. I was there when the proverbial shit hit the fan!

 

The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett   I had never actually read this book, but I knew the story. Even so, the book charmed me and I count it as one of my favorite books now!

Circus Shoes by Noel Streatfeild   After enjoying The Secret Garden, I looked at my own bookshelf. I have two shelves of very old books people have given me over the years – and I found this little gem!  The story is of an orphaned brother and sister. who learn they are going to be sent to separate orphanages. When they learn about  an uncle they have never met, they set out to find him. And, wouldn’t you know it? He is a performer in a circus!!!! What better setting for a childhood adventure! This was published in 1937, and there is an entire series devoted to different shoes; Tennis Shoes, Skating Shoes, Dancing Shoes – the list goes on.

Lewis Carroll’s Alices Adventures in Wonderland illustrated by Yayoi Kusama   This is an all-time favorite book for me. I have to admit, this was a spontaneous purchase while visiting the Kusama exhibit in Atlanta. While the book is fun to read, I found myself missing the old illustrations. It is still a great friend, yes, books are friends.       

Kusama Illustration of Alice

Wacky Chicks: Life Lessons for Fearlessly Inappropriate and Fabulously Eccentric Women by Simon Doonan    I bought this book years ago in New York at the SoHo shop of designer Jonathan Adler.  See, Simon Doonan is his partner. I kept the book (I am not a book hoarder) and have lent it out several times. After seeing Mo Rocca interview the couple on CBS Sunday Morning and hearing a discussion about what does Zoom reveal about reveal about your house, I remembered the book. It was a fun re-read.

Plus, the discussion was of interest to me, because with so many talking heads on television these days, I continually walk up to the television and study what is behind the talking head, especially the books on their shelves. 

 

What are you reading these days? Has this new world changed your reading habits? 
 

 

STORMY WEATHER

SOMETHING TO HELP – PODCASTS TO ENTERTAIN

The world has changed in the past couple of weeks. I have found myself with alot of energy (good thing) without focus (not good). One thing about me, I am an AVID READER, I begin every day with a bath and a book, every single day! But – I the words I’m reading have not been sinking in, and I’m restless. So – I’ve taken to the streets and started walking 3-5 miles a day – the length of a good podcast. So – I thought I’d share some podcasts I’ve really enjoyed.

THE MOTH  – THE ART AND CRAFT OF STORYTELLING
Celebrating it’s 20 year anniversary – there are definitely plenty of things to find here.  In their own words, it started as “a whiskey-fueled dream in Georgia to the storytelling movement of today”. There are over 25,000 stories, that  people like you and I have shared, always live and without notes. Many of them are very inspirational, some are hilarious, and it is rare not to be moved. Unfortunately the live in Atlanta this week was cancelled.

DOLLY PARTON’S AMERICA
Need I say more? Just to hear Dolly laugh always brings a smile to my face. My only complaint is there are limited episodes, but I know I will listen to this series again!

Dolly Parton’s America

DISGRACELAND
This is a true crime podcast about musicians behaving badly, starting with the death of Jerry Lee Lewis’ fifth wife found dead. Did he murder her? What happened? Told by Boston musician Jack Brennan – an expert storyteller – you will learn things you never knew. 

DISORGANIZED CRIME: SMUGGLER’S DAUGHTER
Hosted by non de plume Rainbow Valentine, this is her about her artist mother and “businessman” father were pot smugglers in California in the 70’s and 80’s, something she didn’t know until she was 14!! She interviews both of them, as well as the parents of her friends that were also smugglers. It is very entertaining with interesting history about “pot” thrown in along the way. Just so you know, the word “pot” doesn’t come from something you cook in.  It comes from the Latin term “potation de guayana” which means, “drink of grief” and is a traditional Mexican drink made from steeping cannibus buds in wine.

ARTCURIOUS
This is a delightful different take on art history. Was Van Gogh accidentally murdered? Is the Mona Lisa you see at the Louvre a fake? Was a British painter actually Jack the Ripper? Each episode is thoroughly researched by art curator Jennifer Dasal.

YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS
This is the secret or forgotten history of Hollywood’s first century.  Episodes include The Hemmingway Curse, Cass Elliott and Fat Shaming (she did not die eating a ham sandwich btw), Esther Williams and the Birth of Waterproof Makeup. Interesting stuff!

There are so many great things to listen to out there – but I’ll stop here! I’d love to have suggestions on podcasts I may not know about!!!

 

 

 

 

FEBRUARY READING, RESEARCH AND REVISITING

February may be the shortest month of the year, but I still managed to read eight books, one of which was a reread and two were read for research. These are not “critiques”, but I will recommend certain books that really stayed with me.  So – here we go!

CALL OF THE WILD BY JACK LONDON  – I have to admit, I had never read this book. It was never assigned to me in school and I tend to stay away from animal books because, well, they typically upset me (the animal rarely survives the book, right?).  This is definitely the story of the magnificent dog Buck – and at roughly 160 pages, it can be read in an afternoon (if you read a page a minute – easily 2.5 hours).  It is worth an afternoon of your time!Vickie Martin's reading.

 A PLACE FOR US by Fatima Farheen Mirza  – The first novel by Mirza  is the story of an Indian-American Muslim family, gathered together in their Californian hometown to celebrate the eldest daughter’s wedding. The estranged son, Amar, returns after three years. The book spans decades and is told through the eyes of each family member (the parents, two daughters, one son). It is a moving, emotional  tale, especially the last 40 or so  pages. Interestingly, Sarah Jessica Parker has acquired the rights to this, so it may be coming to a silver screen near you!

THE PEACOCK EMPORIUM by JoJo Moyes  – I like JoJo Moyes, but this is an early book (published in the UK in 2004, reprinted in the US in 2019) and it shows. It is a pleasant read with an ensemble cast in a small town – but it didn’t stay with me for more than a few moments after I finished the last page.

RADIANT ANGEL by Nelson DeMille – This is the most recent book featuring the sarcastic John Corey (published 2015) – an all around good guy and a great character. Of course it is extremely violent and often gory, with the island of Manhattan at stake. This is not DeMille’s finest hour, too many subplots (like his wife’s dalliance in DC), with a cookie cutter ending. Still, it is a fun read.

THE MUSE by Jessie Burton – I love mysteries that are set in the art world! Two stores are told, set 30 years apart, in Spain and London. Odelle Bastian, from Trinidad, lands a job in an art gallery working with Marjorie Quick, and finds a painting on the doorstep. Is it a lost masterpiece of Isaac Robles, who died mysteriously years earlier. There are alot of secrets and deceptions in the book, and even though I figured out the mystery early on, I kept reading, because I wasn’t 100% sure if I was correct (I was partially correct!).

MY TALK PRETTY ONE DAY by David Sedaris – I am NOT a book hoarder. While I keep reference books, signed first editions, books from my childhoods and art books, I do NOT keep every book I read unless I know I will pick it up again one day. This is such a book – I read it 15 years ago (published in 2001) and knew it was worth keeping. The book is laugh out loud funny – with stories of David’s family and his move to France. His sister Amy Sedaris makes a hilarious entrance dressed in a fat suit for the Christmas holidays!

LOVE ME TENDER – THE STORIES BEHING THE WORLD’S BEST LOVED SONGS – by Max Cryer – 
I am currently working on a series of painting based on music and memory, with each piece based on a specific song, which I also learn to play on the piano! So, it makes sense to me to research the history of the songs too! This book is so interesting – some of the stories I had heard, some were new to me.  Did you know the person that wrote the lyrics to Danny Boy never set foot in Ireland? Or, Waltzing Matilda’s copyright expired in Australia in 1991, but the copyright in the US didn’t expire until 2011, therefore at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Australia had to pay to use its own song! Short chapters, fact packed and a humorous delivery!!!!

A GLORIOUS FREEDOM – WOMEN LEADING EXTRADORINARY LIVES by Lisa Congdon – This was also research for a class I am putting together about the forgotten women or art. This book goes a step further by highlighting many women that deserve their due.  I’ll let Lisa tell you about the book:

 

What are you thought? Do you have any recommendations? 

 

 

 

A CRAFT PROJECT TO CELEBRATE THE MONTH OF MARCH

I have found by working with people in adult day care, there are two rules that remain constant. The first is not to give them too many choices. The second rule is to make them part of the process, they love to learn new things.

“March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.” ―English Proverb

I have included a few guidelines for putting together a monthly calendar that is both fun and educational.  

monthly craft of a calendar for adult day care.

March 2020 calendar example for adult day care

There is more to March than St. Patricks Day.  

SUPPLIES:

Supplies needed for the monthly calendar

You will need: 

tape
scissors
glue (stick glue works best)
assorted decorative tapes
assorted designs punched out of construction paper
pens to color

The particular coloring design I used can be found at THIS link.  The calendar is found HERE.   But, feel free to look around and see if there is something you find that is better suited for your purposes.  Make the copies on Cardstock.

It is easy to find thumbnail images that pertain to the important dates and birthday. I put these on one page and give them copies of it. (I am unable to show an example, but you can use regular copy paper for this).

IMPORTANT DATES FOR MARCH

St. Patricks Day – 3/17
Daylight Saving Time – 3/8
World Prayer Day – 3/6
National Plant a Flower Day – 3/21
Full Moon – 3/9
First Day of Spring – 3/19

SOME BIRTHDAYS TO CONSIDER

Garnett Morgan – born 3/4 (the inventor of the traffic light)
Pearl Bailey – born 3/29
Aretha – born 3/25

INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT MARCH

March was the first month of the year in the Roman calendar.

March is named for Martius, the Roman God of War. Because battles were not fought during the winter, they began again in March.

The birthstone is an aquamarine.
The flower is the daffodil.
March and June always end the month on the same day of the year.
March is considered the most unproductive month of the year in the United States. The reason? March Madness.

Again, this is just an example to get you started!!!!   This gives them consistency and also something to look forward to!! They have started asking when we are going to make a calendar for the next month.

I would love to see other examples of consistent crafts that others have used!

 

 

 

A NEW YEAR = NEW BOOKS (and podcasts)

It’s back!!!!! I am resurrecting my monthly blog that charts my reading over the previous month.   These are NOT reviews ( writing a review would cramp my reading time!)  However, I will tell you the books I highly recommend. In January I read a total of 9 books (do I need to get a life?)

  1. CATCH AND KILL: LIES, SPIES AND A CONSPIRACY TO PROTECT PREDATORS by Ronan Farrow:,  A capitvating book,  I couldn’t put it down. 
  2. THE HOLY OR THE BROKEN: LEONARD COHEN AND JEFF BUCKLEY AND THE UNLIKELY ASCENT OF HALLELUJAH by Alan Light: If learning about the story behind songs you hear, this might be of interest to you. I learned alot about Leonard Cohen and Jeff Buckley.
  3. MURDER IN THE CHOIR by Liz Hedgecock :  I picked this book up at the library because of  storm threats. I wanted a cozy, quick book to read – in bed. It took about 3 hours to read, so it served it’s purpose.
  4. THE LIBRARY BOOK by Susan Orlean:  Orlean put in a lot of legwork investigating the fire of the Los Angeles Library in 1986 that destroyed or damaged over a million books. If you love reading and love books, you will love this book. 
  5. HOLY LANDS by Amanda Stiths:  An epistolary book, it follows a retired Jewish doctor who won’t use technology and how his family is connecting through actual letters. It starts out as a humorous tale, but as it unfolds, it ends up packing an emotional punch. It is a short read. Oh- the retired doctors has moved to Israel to raise pigs.
  6. CARNEGIE HILL by Jonathan Vatner:  I admit I checked this book out because of it’s cover about a co-op on the Upper East Side of New York.  It was entertaining while I was reading it, but once finished – poof! it is gone in my head.
  7. FALSE IMPRESSION by Jeffrey Archer: A fast paced thriller that is based on the sale of a Van Gogh self portrait.  Since part of it involved the world of art, it was a page turner for me.
  8. THE LOST GIRLS OF PARIS by Pam Jenoff:  Historical fiction based on the women of the S.O.E. before and during WWII.  I didn’t know about the women in the group, so I’m curious to know more. However, see if you can find the anachronisms in the book – better research was needed.
  9. THE ORCHID THIEF: A TRUE STORY OF BEAUTY AND OBSESSION by Susan Orlean: This is a world I never knew existed that takes place in South Florida – and I lived there for three years!!! (Note: same author as The Libra

I have included a few podcasts I discovered in the month of January:

CATCH AND KILL:   Perfect companion piece to the book (#1 above). 

DOLLY PARTON’S AMERICA:  Even though there are limited episodes, it is a breath of fresh air!

THE MOTH:  Storytelling at it’s best, with over 30,000 stories downloaded there will always be something to listen to.  I was founded by novelist George Dawes Green, who wanted to recreate the evenings in Georgia, when moths were attracted to the porch where people got together to tell tall tales.

Did you find a favorite book in January? Or did you find a favorite podcast? I’d love to know.

 

THE STORY BEHIND THE PAINTING I’LL FLY AWAY

The song I’ll Fly Away is featured in this blog as part of my series MUSIC STILL REMAINS, which is an exploration of music and memory inspired by dementia – and you can read more about the series in this blog.

I begin each painting by applying texture, which is symbolic of the plaques and tangles found in the brain of those with dementia. I then handwrite the entire lyrics on the canvas. The song was suggested to me by my piano teacher. Oh, I forgot to mention, learning to play each song on the piano is part of the process of every painting.

 Many people believe this is the most recorded of all gospel songs (hard to believe, but the songs you are thinking about being more recorded are actually considered “hymns”).  In fact, this song recently made an appearance in the movie O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU? – check out the video here.  It’s been recorded by a wide array of artists – from Johnny Cash to Kanye West!

I’ll Fly Away, early layers

As you can see from the above picture, the first several layers look very different from the finished painting.  I started using birds – but changed it to butterflies.  The birdcage was ultimately scaled down.  So, when it was all over and done – I took all my little supplies and made the collage below.

I’ll Fly Away, Collage on Paper 8×10 ©vickiemartin2019

 I’ll Fly Away was written in 1929, and is considered “theological escapism” – escaping earth for the joys of heaven.  Using birds and angels in the lyrics symbolizes the freedom from pain and toil.  Below are a few of the verses of the song.

Is there a song that always brings up a memory for you? I’d love to know the song and what the memory is!

Some bright morning when this life is over
I’ll fly away
To that home on God’s celestial shore
I’ll fly away

I’ll fly away, oh glory
I’ll fly away in the morning
When I die, Hallelujah by and by
I’ll fly away

When the shadows of this life have gone
I’ll fly away
Like a bird from these prison walls I’ll fly
I’ll fly away

 

 

 

 

 

MEET VERONICA

This is Veronica, inspired by the Elvis Costello song of the same name. It was written in honor of his grandmother, who suffered from dementia.

Veronica, 12×36,mixedmedia,©vickiemartin2019

This is part of my MUSIC STILL REMAINS, Each piece in this series is based on a specific song and inspired by dementia.  Did you know it  has been scientifically proven that you never lose your musical  memory. (I teach at adult day care and I have seen unresponsive people suddenly sit up and joyfully sing).  The texture that appears on the painting is symbolic of the plaques and tangles that are found on the brain.  Veronica appears to be hiding, she is really not “front and center”, because dementia often make a person feel invisible, or as the lyrics suggest, has she gone to hide?

Below are two more paintings that were also inspired by the song. The titles are based on lyrics within the song,

She Spoke His Name Out Loud, 11×14 mixed media ©vickiemartin2019

 

The Empress of India, 10×20 mixed media ©vickiemartin2010

This was the first collaboration between Elvis Costello and Paul McCartney 

When you read the entire lyrics knowing where the inspiration came from, they suddenly make sense.

Is it all in that pretty little head of yours?
What goes on in that place in the dark?
Well I used to know a girl and I could have sworn
That her name was Veronica

Well she used to have a carefree mind of her own
And a delicate look in her eye
These days I’m afraid she’s not even sure
If her name is Veronica

Do you suppose, that waiting hands on eyes,
Veronica has gone to hide?
And all the time she laughs at those who shout
Her name and steal her clothes
Veronica
Veronica

Did the days drag by? Did the favors wane?
Did he roam down the town all the while?
Will you wake from your dream, with a wolf at the door,
Reaching out for Veronica

Well it was all of sixty-five years ago
When the world was the street where she lived
And a young man sailed on a ship in the sea
With a picture of Veronica

On the “Empress of India”
And as she closed her eyes upon the world
And picked upon the bones of last week’s news
She spoke his name out loud again

Do you suppose, that waiting hands on eyes,
Veronica has gone to hide?
And all the time she laughs at those who shout
Her name and steal her clothes
Veronica
Veronica

Veronica sits in her favorite chair
And she sits very quiet and still
And they call her a name that they never get right
And if they don’t then nobody else will

But she used to have a carefree mind of her own
With devilish look in her eye
Saying “You can call me anything you like,
But my name is Veronica”

Do you suppose, that waiting hands on eyes,
Veronica has gone to hide?
And all the time she laughs at those who shout
Her name and steal her clothes
Veronica
Veronica
Oh Veronica

 

party dress

OPEN STUDIO – BENEFIT

I will be hosting an open studio on June 22, 2-6p. 20% of all sales will go to The Alzheimers Association/Georgia Chapter.

The Alzheimer’s Association states that AD is the sixth leading cause of deathin the United States. About one in three seniors die with AD or another form of dementia.

In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that AD claimed more than 84,000 lives in the U.S. Only heart disease, cancer, some respiratory diseases, stroke, and accidents caused more deaths than AD.

 
Open Studio postcard

SAVE THE DATE

JUNE 22, 2019 from 2-6pm

I’m so excited! I am having my first ever OPEN STUDIO – so put down the date!

Not only am I going to make all of my work available, but 20% of all sales will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association/Georgia Chapter. Below is a small sampling of some of the work that will be available. There should be something for everyone, with prices from $15 to $1500! In the next week – I will add a page to my website and post images of some of what will be available.

I am planning several things to make the afternoon FUN! Not only will there be light refreshments, but I am planning activities. I have a very nice patio area outside my studio (see photos below) and will set up a couple of tables so you can do a collage, paint a rock, or who knows what else I’ll come up with! If you have any ideas – let me know!

A work in progress, my walkway leading to my studio!
The entrance to my studio!

So – save the date!!!!! AND – if you want to receive an invitation in the mail, respond to this email with your address!

Hope to see you!!!!

(more…)

DEMENTIA STATISTICS

Thank you for stopping by. If you watched my video introducing my new series MUSIC STILL REMAINS, here are more statistics on Alzheimers in the United States. As an added bonus, I have include a few things NEVER to say to someone with any kind of dementia.

Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States

Alzheimer’s is the only disease in the 10 leading causes of deaths in the United States that cannot be cured, prevent or slowed.

1 in 10 Americans over the age of 65 has Alzheimer’s.

Between 2017 and 2025 every state is expected to see at least a 1% rise in Alzheimer’s.

By 2050, it is estimated there will be as many as 16 million American’s living with Alzheimer’s.

By 2050, there could be as many as 7 million people age 85 and older with Alzheimer’s, accounting for half of all people 65 and older with Alzheimer’s.

It is estimated by 2020, there will be 5.8 million with Alzheimers, by 2050, there will be 13.8 million. This is in people 65+.

Two thirds people with Alzheimer’s are women.

African American’s are 50% more like to have Alzheimer’s than Caucasian Americans. Hispanic Americans are 100% more like to develop it!

Here are some things never to say to a person with Alzheimer’s:

  • Don’t tell them they are wrong about something.
  • Don’t ask if they remember something.
  • Don’t remind them a love one is dead.

Learning “creative lying” helped me. My mother frequently told me she had told to her father and he was coming to get her. I would respond and tell her I had talked to him too. He told me to tell her he couldn’t come today because he had some crops he had to harvest (he was a farmer), it worked every single time.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – if you have never had someone close to you with dementia, you are lucky, FOR NOW! You have a better chance of winning the lottery unless there is a cure found in our lifetime!

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you will follow me on my journey with my MUSIC STILL REMAINS series!