Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Mother's Little Helpers

      "Mother's Little Helpers #4" ©2018 Cindy Packard Richmond

Our gene pool is our future, we are all doomed.  I accept that no one gets out alive.  What concerns me is the quality of this rush to the finish.  I expect the road to be rutted  and ripe with unexpected disasters.  I have already had a colorful medical history.  If I follow my parents lead, I can spin the wheel between strokes, Alzheimer's and cardiac arrest.  My grandparents had what my father termed "old people's cancer".   I accepted that as an accurate diagnosis for many years.

My eye doctor repeatedly asks if my mother, an artist, had glaucoma.  I have no idea. My brothers are no help.  The doctor seems to feel I am ripe for it.  I took the test today and I think I failed.  You stare at a spot and click a button every time you see a light flash to the side.  There were several stretches where I saw no flashes.   This can not be good.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Another Christmas Is Upon Us

   When in doubt, follow George Booth's cartoon advice: "write about dogs."  Christmas is the time of dog drama at our house.  A few years ago I hosted an unhappy holiday event with 17 dinner guests and 5  dogs, none of them mine.  I love all of them individually.  They were were all familiar with our house.  Apparently there were some turf issues.  It was Crips vs Bloods vs the small Pit.  There was much gnashing teeth, blood and subsequent vet bills.  All that happened before the guests arrived.  The dogs were dragged to separate bedrooms.  Five frustrated hounds, howling, itching to renew the hostilities.  Polite conversation was lost to the cacophony.

   My daughter's pit rescue, Rosie,  has a sweet countenance and a few neuroses.   Two years ago, we went out to dinner on Christmas Eve.  We returned to shredded wood and wall board.  She had tried to tunnel out the front door.  Last summer she was with us for ten days.  She destroyed the wood around the backdoor.  And made another attempt at the front door.  We have learned our lesson.  We do not leave her alone.

   We are down to one dog this Christmas, Rosie.  Happy Chewing to one and all!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


                                    "Meditation" ©2017 Cindy Packard Richmond

     An artist asked me when did I start practicing Mindfulness.  I was surprised by the implication that everyone is mindful, the question being not 'if' but 'when' .
    I no longer meditate.  Every time I try my mind skitters off into mine fields of anxiety.  I know, I know, all the more reason for me to meditate.
    My son's family in Seoul is 30 miles away from Kim Jung Un's banks of munitions.  The State Department says they have plans to remove the 230,000 American personnel and their 100,000 dependents in Kim Jung Un's target zone.  It beggars belief.
  Still, I try to be mindful of my good fortune.  After prolonged pause, I told the artist what I had read years ago in the New Yorker.  Kurt Vonnegut and Joseph Heller were at a ritzy cocktail party on Fisher Island.  Vonnegut asked Heller, "Does it bother you that our host makes more in one day than all your royalties for Catch 22?  Heller said, no, because I have something he will never have.  Vonnegut said, what's that?  Heller answered "Enough"
     I have enough.  And I am deeply mindful of it.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Memory Fault

                                                    Virginia M. Packard  1912-1997

  Virginia Woolf wrote, "Memory is the seamstress, and a capricious one at that."  This sentiment was brought to bear during a reunion with my brothers last month.  We spoke about our parents, and while recollections of our father were generally coherent, those of my mother were dramatically askew.  I am the youngest, with two brothers, one three years older and the other six years older than me.  When we spoke, it was of "my" mother.  She appeared to be an entirely different person to each of us.  Whoever she was, we each believed we were her favorite child.  I find that a remarkable achievement on her part.  Our rearing was markedly different.  My eldest brother was born during the deprivation of World War II.  They were apprehensive parents, following B. F. Skinner's draconian schedule.  When he was a toddler, he wore a baby harness and was staked in the yard of their Brooklyn apartment.  Someone called child services. (I would never have believed this but my mother confirmed it.)
  The next brother was a sunny kid.  Skinner was abandoned for Doctor Spock.  My father was emotionally removed, reportedly because his second son resembled his mother-in-law.  But this brother was the 'easy' child.
   By the time I came along, I think they were out of dogma.  I remember a happy childhood marred only by weekly weigh-ins with both parents in attendance.  Food is and was always an issue.
   I brought my mother's travel diary from 1958 to the reunion, and read it aloud after cocktails.  I was ten in 1958 and my brothers thirteen and sixteen.  My father had earned success with "The Hidden Persuaders," the year before and decided to take the family to Europe for the summer. Illogically, he intended to write his next book along the way. Mother noted in her diary that we started the trip with twenty-two suitcases.  That morphed into fifty-one suitcases by the trip's end.  Part of it was doubtless Dad's research material, but I know one (mine) was full of breadsticks that I had collected from dinner tables across Europe.  It was with great bitterness that I discovered, on the ship home, that breadsticks go stale.
Given our age differences, perhaps it was to be expected, but Mother's entries sparked different memories for each of us.  Having four viewpoints of an event provided a kaleidoscopic quilt of reality.  Whose memory was true?  Does it matter?  Naturally, I think my version is the bedrock.  As Mark Twain once wrote, "When I was younger I could remember anything, whether it happen or not."

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Bells and Whistles (and Beeps)

I am not opposed to technological advances.  I drove my hybrid Prius for 10 years.  It barely had a horn and much less bells and whistles.  As I only drive to my studio and to the grocery store, it has less than 67,000 miles on it.  But  I am aging, and felt I needed a car that rode less like a tin can.
   Reliability is key.  The Prius was, except for the time it refused to turn off.  That was fun.
   We spent the last three weeks looking at new cars.  It is a brave new world, with a kaleidoscope of options.  Cars that parallel parked by themselves, beep you into submission should stray over the lane marker, shrilly beep if you ignore their instructions.  And they all get lousy mileage.
   I ended up with a car that has the wingspan of a pterodactyl.  Getting it into the garage with the mirrors still intact requires a nervy tenacity.  The Nav system intuits the bushes by the garage door and sets off alarms and flashing lights which to me should be reserved for lurking villains.
   There is also a bodiless voice to heed my commands.  Unfortunately,  she does not wish to understand me.  I speak a command, and she says, "Pardon?"  I try again.  "Pardon?"  "Pardon?"  Driving is tough enough without thinking about Nixon.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Culture Clash

                                          copyright 2017, cindy packard richmond

    I bought the Sony DCS 100 rV for my trip to Japan and Korea.  A small, lightweight camera, it takes 20 megapixels images, which justifies its hefty price.    As someone who tried but was too impatient to master aperture and speed in  Photography 101,  I use point and shoot cameras.  You could do a lot more with this camera other than leave it on Auto, but I know my limitations.
I felt  smug as I dodged stooped tourists bearing heavy cameras with ever telescoping lenses.  I knew that with 20 megapixel  I could shoot at will and crop interesting compositions later.
    I was bent on finding iconic images, such as a geisha strolling the streets.  I was thrilled to find this maiko   (geisha in training) with her long sleeves and unpainted top lip.
    What I did not see, until I was cropping the image at home, were the teenage girls posing for a selfie inches from the maiko.   A rare bird among self-adulating pigeons, this was a true case of culture clash.

Saturday, April 29, 2017


    On the plus side, my ankle worked.  My son took me to a 4th century Buddhist Temple in the Korean Mountains.  He had been there before and mentioned it was a bit of a hike.  He couldn't find the parking area half-way up the mountain he had used before.  We parked at the base. People who have read my blog will find it difficult to believe, but, I am not a complainer.  I am a trouper.  And I want that on my tombstone.
   I was winded, to be sure.  We saw the temple and continued upward.  I did not make it to the tippy top. The last hundred yards was deeply eroded and pock-marked with loose stones.  After they had disappeared, I started up after them.  I got halfway and saw the folly of my venture.  As it was, my

son had to support me most of the way down.