Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Cora, 14 months in this photo, the cutest Halloween gingerbread cookie.

As you read this, I am in Indiana, mostly to visit with my mom and help celebrate her 60th birthday, which was a couple of weeks ago. But, as an added bonus, I am sure I'll get to see at least some of my nieces and nephews and other relatives in Halloween regalia. We learned last week what Veda, Deacon and Cora would be wearing. I'll post photos next week with an update to what actually transpired.

Today, however, in the spirit of the holiday, I thought I'd post some photos from Halloweens past to get us in the spirit. Most of these photos were taken by someone else and forwarded to me. Which I love. If there is any doubt, please know I LOVE getting photos from other people. Send them along. Show me what you're up to. It's great fun and a wonderful way for us to stay in touch. And, maybe, just maybe, you'll see them here. Years later.

Each year, in preparation for Halloween, these kids visit the pumpkin patch.
Proof of this visit from a couple of years ago.

My brother Steve's family pumpkins from a couple of years ago,
the fruits (no pun intended) of the pumpkin patch visit.

When we were kids, Halloween outfits you could buy were not very fancy. They consisted of a plastic "apron" with some sort of decoration on it and a plastic mask that was sure to asphyxiate you before the night was over. In our house, when we got to be a little bit older, it was our job to "use our imagination" to come up with costumes using things in the house. This is something S thinks is hilarious. Apparently they didn't have to do this - apparently in Big D, mothers made costumes or purchased lavish outfits for their children. Don't worry - Big D is still keeping up that tradition of over the top parenting. But, that's for another post. Anyway, we were usually hobos or clowns or something like that. We'd paint up our faces and move on.

The year Cora was the Gingerbread cookie, Deacon was Thomas and Veda was Belle.

Now, if you live in Dallas, you are probably thinking - man that gingerbread outfit is cute, but my child would die of heat exhaustion in that outfit. Yeah, in Indiana, they can wear the cute, furry costumes, no problem, by Halloween, without passing out from the heat. Passing out from sugar overload - now that's another story.

My cousin Robin and her family go to the same church as the whippersnappers in that last photo. So, that year, they sent me this photo as well - the cutest Yoda ever. This Halloween, Robin could very well be giving birth to Gabe's little brother or sister. Or, he/she could already be here by the time you're reading this - it's an any day sort of thing. I hope to capture some newborn photos to post next week while I'm in Indy.

Gabe as Yoda, with his mom, my cousin Robin.

The other thing we did when we were kids - when you could still, no problem, no worries, go door to door in your neighborhood to every house and get safe candy from non-psychopaths for the most part - my dad would move our record player to the garage, just inside the garage door - which faced the front of our house - and we'd play this record that had scary Halloween sounds on it. I still have that record. It's a hoot. I love it.

The year after that picture above of the three kids, they were a different cast of characters the next year:

Veda was a cat or a leopard or something.
Forgive me for not knowing my Halloween costume feline varieties.

Deacon was a football player. With a helmet that almost fit.

And Cora was a Huffalump - an outfit that had to be seen from the front and the back.

In 2007, the kids practiced Halloween before the big day - their mom, Terri shared this one with me:

Talk about collecting your costume from around the house...

But, on Halloween last year, they were:

A snow princess, a cat, and Spiderman.

Yes, I will just call that cat outfit a cat and be done with it.

Now, as a special sneak peak into what this year's costuming will bring...

Veda as a witch.

Veda told us she'd be a witch this year...she was already practicing the act before this year's holiday to attend a party last week. Her mom did a witchy good job, didn't she?

In looking through my photo files, I also found these photos, also taken a few years back. These are of my college roommate, Cathy's firstborn, Marion, on Halloween. I'm pretty sure Marion is in school now, so this was at least three years ago, if not four.

Marion the clown.

Marion and her mom, my good friend Cathy.

What Marion thought of that hat.

Last year, we had the great privilege of going Trick or Treating with our old next door neighbors. At the time, they were our next door neighbors, but not anymore. They moved since last Halloween. Thus, the moniker - old next door neighbors. And good friends, of course, then and now. We just don't see them as often as we used to!

Sadie the bee and Sophie the witch - and Norman the cat.

Sophie and Sadie's dad, Mike, was out of town for the festivities last year, so we got to fill in, sort of. It was fun.

Sophie got right down to business. With her designer Halloween bag in tow.

After a visit to an alien residence. Sadie jumped right in to eat the candy.

Sadie showed us her "goods" each time - proudly displaying the candy loot.

Hers was another one of those outfits you just had to see from the front and the back.

This year, I'm sure S will sit in the dark like a scrooge and try to miss the revelers all together, since I'll be away. Bah Humbug works here too, I think.

I have no photos of my grown up friends in costume. No one sends me those photos. Maybe it's because they just aren't as cute. Whatever you're up to for the Halloween holiday, make it a safe one, scare away the ghouls and goblins and don't eat all the candy at once! Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dallas Center for the Performing Arts

Winspear Opera House under construction

By the look of the construction boom in the downtown arts district, one would have a hard time thinking there was a recession going on. A global economic crisis. A reason to hold on to your money.

Nope, the arts district is going strong. There is new commercial, residential and retail space. The arts magnet high school just reopened in new digs. The Meyerson Symphony Center, home of the Dallas Symphony and others, has new signage and a new music director therein. Museum Tower is in the planning stages. And, the Nasher Sculpture Center, Crow Collection of Asian Art and the Dallas Museum of Art are going strong.

Next fall, the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts will open. It will house The Dallas Opera, the Dallas Theater Center, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Texas Ballet Theater, and more. I walk by the construction of the buildings regularly, so here are some shots of the progress. I took a few photos about a month ago, when the red exterior was just going up, and then again last week.

You can see the red exterior just going up in this photo.

They started putting these panels up right before a hurricane arrived,
so I assume they knew it was up there for the long haul!

A show of the progress a month ago from inside the Meyerson lobby.

The progress from just last week - that red exterior really makes a difference.

From inside the Meyerson lobby -
these two lobbies, from two famous architects, will forever be neighbors.

From just inside the Meyerson glass.

The beginning of the exterior canopy that will envelope the opera house
is visible in the back of this photo.

The other building of the Center is the Wyly Theater. It sits across what will be a grand plaza one day. I've always said its form reminds me of Sponge Bob Square Pants. But I digress.

Wyly from the Meyerson lobby, one month ago.

Exterior of Wyly, one month ago.

It was also designed by a famous architect.

And, the Wyly's progress, as of last week.

As the speech makers always say, it's an exciting time for the arts in Dallas. And, it certainly is. I only hope the citizens of Dallas take notice of all this great art and frequent it regularly in the coming years. People in this collection of world class buildings will be the only thing that will bring the arts district alive for generations to come. I, for one, will be there!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Out for Lunch

Mums in downtown Dallas.

It's the time of year in Dallas to enjoy the weather. The god-awful summer heat is over. Winter, such that it is in Dallas, is not yet upon us. It's a glorious time to be in the city. So, at lunchtime, I try to get out and walk when I can. So, I took my trusty Powershot camera along to snap up some photos. I took several photos of the mums, above. That shot is edited - "hue-d" up a little to make them even more perfect. I even cloned in one of those bunches of flowers to cover up a bare spot. Can you tell which one?

In general, the photos I took on this little walk didn't really "grab" me when I was looking through them on my computer. So, I've played with each of them in different ways for this post.

The mums also look nice as an impressionist-like painting, shown below.

Mums with the "palette knife" effect.

The statue below is outside the Plaza of the Americas building. On my way into lunch there was this guy talking on his phone, walking back and forth behind the statue. I really wanted a photo of the statue in the noonday sun, so I went to eat, thinking he'd be gone by the time I was back. Nope. He was still there. Still talking on the phone. Still waddling to and fro. Apparently it is what he does for lunch.

Pesky guy on phone.

So, I took off the restrictions on the crop tool and just made a shot without him in it.

Gone. I cloned out his shadow too - a little hastily - kind of messy over there on the left.

While inside, I took a photo of this other statue, too.

As I was walking to and from lunch, I encountered two different urban tree groves. I tried to get some interesting photos of them. I guess I wasn't feeling too inspired, however, because the boring shots I ended up with did really nothing for me.

First tree grove.

Those green painted things play classical music. Even that was uninspiring. So, I played with the photo again. I tried lots of different options and ended up with the neon chalk treatment.

Tree grove, neon chalk - urban and edgy.

The other tree grove, as is.

I wasn't wowed by this photo either. I wanted to be. I liked the idea of the tree grove photo, obviously, since I took two different groves.

Tree grove, pencil sketch.

I like this one, again, because it's sort of urban and edgy.

Tree grove, old paper and old photo effects.

This one looks old, of course - that's the effect. But, also sort of mysterious and foggy. I like it too, at least better than the original.

So, that concludes my fiddled photos from my free time frolic in the fresh fall air for food.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Please VOTE!

"Give Mother the Vote" circa 1916

Most of this post is a forwarded email I received a few months ago. But, the picture above is a family photo. It is a "Give Mother the Vote" photo, where my grandmother and great aunt are in the car for a parade. My grandmother is about 3 in the photo, third from the left. Her sister, my great aunt Betty, (Elizabeth) about 10, is the third little girl standing in the car from the right. I don't know this for a fact, but the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (merged into the National Woman's Party in 1917) went cross country that year to every state urging people to vote for candidates that would be sympathetic to the suffragist movement. It was an election year - it makes me think this car might have been in a parade connected to their national campaign. But, I don't know this for sure.

I think it's important to remember we knew people who were there when women were still fighting for the right to vote, and we should, men and women alike of all political affiliations, one week from today, exercise that right, no matter what. I felt this forward was so interesting, and I feel, no matter your political views, it is important we exercise our right in this democracy and cast our ballot. So, I'm reprinting this woman's words here on my blog today.

Now, on to the forwarded message, written by someone else, with some photos and links added by me.


This is the story of our grandmothers and great-grandmothers. They lived less than 100 years ago.

Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.

The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote.

And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of "obstructing sidewalk traffic."

They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above
her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.

They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the
'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House during wartime for the right to vote. For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms.

When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, (and here) embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

So, refresh my memory. Some women won't vote this year because-why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn't matter? It's raining?

Picketing in front of the White House

Some of this story is depicted in HBO's docudrama, "Iron Jawed Angels". It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that we could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have our say.

act of voting can become less personal, more rote. Frankly, voting can often more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it is inconvenient.

One woman who say the movie with me, with a background in women's history,
said she was angry with herself. "One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie," she said. "What would those women think of the way I use, or don't use, my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn." The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her "all over again."

A banner that elicited huge response from the wartime authorities.

HBO has released the movie on video and DVD . I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum I want it shown on bunco night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn't our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock therapy is in order.

We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so
hard for by these very courageous women. Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party - remember to vote.

History is being made.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Norman stole Ellie's seat

This morning, when I wandered through the den, something was awry.

Norman was in Ellie's chair.

Now, to look at these photos, you have to get over the fact that the animals look possessed. I haven't found a way to fix this when you use a flash. (red eye removal doesn't work, burn tool doesn't work, cloning doesn't work - if you know what works, tell me please!) I was trying to get them before they moved, so I flashed away.

Anyway, as you will remember, this is Ellie's chair. But, as you will also remember, Norman was here before Ellie, and Ellie minds Norman. If this were Echo or Lil' Bit in this chair, Ellie would growl and poke until they moved.

But, since Norman decided to take up residence, Ellie took the footstool. And sat there with a despondent face. Poor Ellie. (loud AWWWWWW sound effect here)

Norman sat in the chair for the better part of the morning, looking fat and happy. Of course, as soon as Norman moved, Ellie sat right back into her seat.

Just thought it was funny and I'd share the household drama, such that it is, with all of you.

Luncheons and Illnesses

Nice title, huh? Well this past weekend, I was supposed to do a lot of fun stuff. I had a "girls night out" party to attend Friday night, a cooking class, lunch and photos to take on Saturday, as well as the theater on Saturday night. But, I didn't do any of that. It was all canceled. Because I woke up Friday sick as a dog. I actually felt it coming on Thursday, but I chose to ignore that and hope it went away quickly. It didn't. I was down for the count for two days. It stunk. So, I have little of interest to talk about today. I was going to take a photo of myself, sick, after two days in the house. You know, in the interest of keeping it real. But, then I thought, I want them to come back and read my blog another day. So, no sick photos. Or, photos of me sick. Or, maybe sick photos was right.

One thing to talk about - before I got sick - I went to this lovely luncheon hosted by some arts volunteers. I am not much of a "lady who lunches." I don't have the time, money or wardrobe for it. And, really, I am just not one of those fabulous women who look grand all the time and help the world in their sleep. But, I joined them for lunch last week. And of course I took my purse camera along and snapped to my heart's content throughout the event.

One of the lovely centerpieces.

And another one.

The table setting.

The table.

The butter - come on, I know you were hoping for a close up of the butter.
I'm here to please.

The event, since it was hosted by an arts volunteer group, started, after the welcome, with a presentation by a young student violinist and his accompanist. He was a very well spoken young man who had only been playing the violin for four years.

Bobby playing the violin.

Incidentally, I know Bobby's dad - he's a development guru over at the Dallas Children's Theater. If you have children and you live in Dallas, and you're not taking them to the Dallas Children's Theater's fabulous productions, you are missing out. And so is your child. Take a moment and check them out. I know, I know, the outside of the building still looks like a Don Carter bowling alley. Get over it. The inside is beautiful and the productions are amazing. Anyway, Bobby's dad also went through the same graduate school program that I went through at SMU.

Another shot of Bobby at work.

I took this second shot because the sun came out and created that great pattern on the wall behind Bobby - while the violin playing looks essentially the same, I thought the shot was more interesting with the sun detail in the back. And, really Bobby was way further into the piece when the sun came out. He had done quite a bit more work since the previous photo. He was almost finished.

After Bobby finished performing, everyone clapped and gave him a rousing cheer. Then lunch was served. As you know, I often take photos of food plates when I'm out to eat. And, on a day like this one, it might have been more normal to do this than usual. But, for some reason I didn't take one photo of the food plate. I guess I was hungry. It was good. Never fear.

After lunch came the fashion show.

This was the designer, Terri Ives.

The jewelry on display (and for sale) -
by an exclusive Dallas designer that works only for Ms. Ives.

The designer explained that her jewelry artist sometimes designs pieces especially to go with one of her couture designs. All very fancy and nice. I should also mention the models this year were volunteers from the volunteer group - not professional models. I think you'll agree with me - this is a model volunteer group when you look at the photos.

She explained as she went along that all of her pieces can be modified for what you like, for how it fits on your body, etc. Her signature "thing" is large collars and special sleeve treatments, which you'll see a lot of in the photos. She also explained the hottest fashion trends this fall. I'll highlight some of those as we look at the photos.

Hottest trend shown here - lace - lace on the sleeves and bottom of the dress on the left.

The coat dress is big this fall.
She also explained an asymmetrical skirt looks good on just about anyone.

Patterned fabrics and animal prints/textures are still big.
This fall's most popular animal? Leopard (on the right). Faux, of course.

Another asymmetrical skirt on the left, showing off another big trend this fall - belts.

I have to say that chevron print outfit on the left looked exquisite on its model. She's pretty and very thin. But, that fabric was very thick. Let's just say, if I put that outfit on, I suddenly would look like I decided to wear the barn blanket to work. Oh, but aren't her boots cool? Now, I'd wear those boots, no problem.

The evening wear and "mother of the bride" collection.

I just loved that fuchsia one on the right. It had a scoop back which looked fabulous on the little lady who wore it. If I had to choose one thing to buy, I'd buy that one. And, you know, wear it around the back yard. Where else?

After the fashion show came the dessert and coffee bar.

Mmmmm. Dessert.

Needless to say, we took time to cram in dessert before heading back to work.

So, there you go. There's my report from last week, given the illness and all, I guess that's not too bad.