Alice graduated from College (more or less)

Alice’s Graduation, as recounted by Cathy Verts:

Our friend Alice graduated from U. Mass. this May with a degree in Geology. Alas, she was not able to have a proper graduation ceremony, so her sibling, Aerin, decided to organize a small ceremony in the backyard today at 1:00 pm. The three of us Vertses grabbed various robes, ceremonial accoutrements, and masks and drove over to Northampton. Bill brought a speech he wrote before he got up this morning.

Upon arrival, Bill dressed up in full academic regalia, RJ put on high school robes, including a mortarboard trimmed with dangling wooden mammoths, and I declared that I was an Audience, so I didn’t have to get dressed up.

Someone went upstairs and woke up Alice, the star of the show. Al and Aerin put on their academic robes and shoved some robes at Alice. Al added a speaker on his chest so that he could play “Pomp and Circumstance” as he walked.

Bill, Al, RJ, Aerin, and Alice lined up and processed around the backyard, while the Audience, Jared, and Lee applauded. Bill, as the only honest-to-gosh U. Mass. faculty member around handled the graduation speech. I include the exact speech in total (Bill read the numbers, too):

1. Thank you to Irrelevant Authorities
2. Welcoming Remarks
3. Stupid Joke (wait for laughter to die down)
4. Introduction of Other Irrelevant Authorities
5. Generic Congratulatory Remarks
6. Comment About Weather
7. Reference to Special Nature of Current Class
8. Thanking of Faculty
9. Thanking of Parents
10. Personal Amusing Anecdote
11. Obligatory Reference to Antonio’s Pizza
12. Long-winded and Boring Tale of Self-Sacrifice that Nobody is
Interested in.
13. Homily about Doing Well in the World
14. Welcome to Ranks of UMass Family
15. Reference to Alumni Association and Donations
16. Will Graduates Please Stand
17. Conferring of Degree

At this point the graduate’s mother, Lee, handed Alice her degree which had been mailed to Alice. We all cheered.

18. Singing of Fight Song (nobody knows words)
19. Go UMass!
20. Under Your Seats you will Find a Pin

At this point, Bill tossed the U. Mass. pin at Alice (social distancing) and she picked it up off of the ground.

21. Please Stay in your Seats while Platform Party Exits (ignored)
22. Random Milling About

We milled around. Lee asked Alice if she felt any different after our ceremony and Alice said, “Yes, the diploma feels more real.” We sat in the shade, wearing our masks, and visited. Chris showed up fashionably late, but brought Lindor Truffles, so we forgave her. A good afternoon.

more experiments, also I am MIGHTY!!

Many things have gone right today: Aerin and I found the bassoon guy after a very twisty drive into the edge of Boston. We got home from that safely too. I found my camera. I bought a new faucet for the kitchen sink, and removed the old one, and installed the new one, and with Red Kate's help even managed to remove the old sprayer spigot and replace it with the new one. I found a bunch of pieces for the Music Man set that will get built next weekend. I also have enough budget for a lot of them.

So here is yesterday's piece – a transparent piece on the back of the previous day's piece. I like the way the image is visible and less so depending on the intensity of the gesso that bled through the fabric.

jan 23

 Today's was one more reason I am mighty. I used an opaque transfer, and I wanted some of a transparent transfer over the top of it. So I ironed the transparent transfer face down on the opaque transfer…. and it STUCK. ARGH!! I tried to peel it off, and Red Kate tried to peel it off, and we agreed maybe water might help, and IT DID. (mighty, I tell you what!)

The end result is very misty and mysterious, and might still have a thin layer of paper over the top, but at least the image is visible. Which is better than I hoped for originally. (Really. I had a picture of the blank white back of the transfer paper, with pathetic little rips along the edges, all ready to post because I had already accomplished so much today I was willing to let that go. And then: win!!)

jan 24

Chestnut Oak

may 30

via www.flickr.com

A leaf from the tree at the center of the drop-off circle at the middle school. I'm pretty sure it is a chestnut oak. I should find a leaf from a tree at the high school, marking the end of Aerin's era there, but there aren't any very distinctive trees in the way this one is.

There was an awards ceremony at the high school tonight – over 160 awards given to over 100 kids for everything from skill at sports to skill at music, or math, or intent to be in medicine, to "nice guy" awards. There was a vocal crowd of guys at the back, cheering on their friends. My hands are sore from clapping. Aerin won something to do with band, and something for caring about academics.

The camera remains unworking. I am grateful to have a back-up on my incredibly smart phone.

home, and memory

may 6

Three leaves from a copper beech tree outside the place my dad is being taken care of.

As we went north, we traveled backwards through spring. The leaves shrunk and shrivelled, and collapsed into buds, the blooms turned from aged and browning to tiny and brilliant in golds and greens and pinks. The beech tree was perfct for climbing. Alice had limited tolerance for sitting beside a bed, so she'd go out and climb and read, and come back and check on us.

I love the squiggly center line of the leaves at the top; that will straighten out as the leaves age and harden.

These are real leaves, held in place with silk organza and fusible web. I think part of the piece is about aging and change, as much as the leaf itself, and the circle. I'll keep this one pinned to the wall and watch it change.

still in Maine

may 5

Happy Cinco de Mayo!! I have to admit I always mistranslate that as five times the mayonaise. 

Alice and I are still in Maine. Today's circle is handstitched. The leaf image was copied onto fabric using the inkjet printer, then layered with dark green silk onto a white silk background. I brought the pieces with me to work on today, but finished it just now at the hotel. 

We got in several short visits with my dad, and explored around town as well, in between. Alice had two doses of ice cream, two playgrounds, one round of mini-golf (a first for both of us) and a hamburger. 

 

live from Maine

may 3

The May 3 circle is in honor of Sol Lewitt whose work we saw at MAss MoCA yesterday. I was chaperone for Alice's class. It was fun watching the kids encounter enormous weird art in the various MoCA galleries. The tour guides were good too. This circle resembles Lewitt's middle years, full of repeated lines and overlapping primary colors to give a little sublety. His later works are not subtle at all – just huge. 

may 4

This is the third tree in my backyard. Aerin and I planted it our second summer in the hosue, and she could jump over it when it was first in. The first winter the wild rabbits nibbled all the buds off it, and I didn't think it would make it. But it has thrived, and is much too big for Aerin to jump over now. We live in fertile territory!

I'm writing from Sanford, Maine, where my dad went from hospital into rehab. He's pretty miserable, but improving steadily. I've brought him a way to have music, and all the treasured CDs he was traveling with in his car, in hopes he might find it reassuring and soothing. 

what tree is it?

april 30

This amazing tree on the way to school has dark red and brown leaves, like a red Japanese Maple, but it has pink blossoms like a magnolia tree. It seemed a fitting end to April's blooming things.

My father is still in the hospital, doped to the gills on various pain meds. When he's comfortable, he's entertaining the staff with scraps of Gilbert and Sullivan. Which is an improvement over fainting from pain. Which is what landed him in the hospital this second time around. He'll be better soon, but this part is hard on everyone.

 

driving driving driving, and then not.

Steering wheel

My circle for yesterday looks like this. Everyone is OK, but I had to make an emergency trip to Maine to fetch my father's car back here, because he is temporarily imobilized with a broken collar bone and ribs. So when they move on Tuesday, his car is here now, instead of there.

Today's circle is all about having been out for a ride and a walk and the amazing blue sky:

april 28

And then just for amusement value, I offer documentation of Aerin's experiments with her braces, specifically the one where she proves that they are magnetic:

IMG_0642

 

Wright Flight, and a great deal of driving around

wright flight day

In the spirit of most important things first, and only telling the good stuff (my father-in-law's parenting rules; inspired or lackadaisical, they seem to work):

  1. Alice flew a plane today. While she had to have two cushions so she could see over the dashboard, and her feet didn't reach the pedals, still, she sat in the left hand seat, and made the plane go, for take-off and for the trip over the Holyoke Range, over the Quabbin, and over her school. Landing was accomplished by the teacher. Gracefully.
  2. Aerin got braces today. She was willing to do it on her own, but Al managed to combine visiting with her while her mouth was propped open with seeing Alice into her plane and off the ground, and greeting her on her (triumphant) return.
  3. I finished putting together my portfolio and I am impressed with myself. 

Beyond the important things there was a lot of driving around with various subsets of children in the car. I'm pretty sure I circumnavigated town three or four times. 

Everyone is fine. Happy, not too severely pained in the teeth, and completely ready for bed. 

beach and tree

 april 20

Yesterday's beach. Alice and I had the best time. We made footprints in varying hardnesses of sand, and tried to see if we could tell if we were walking backwards or forwards. We looked at longshore motion of sand, and did civil engineering on the tide running down the beach. We did a small faunal survey. We talked about the origin of the sand; up-stream or up-ice, or up-glacier from where we weere standing.

Today we visited Jenny, because she has commissioned a set of works for her bedroom. Alice and Jenny and I spent a happy half hour taping various sized and shaped pieces of newspaper to the wall to decide on the final dimensions. We eventually settled on the perfect configuration, which looked nothing like what we'd started with. Which is good – not letting pre-conceived notions interfere.

Today on the way home, I saw several of the trees, blooming with the most absurd pinky purple color. This one had a pile of dandelions around the base.

april 21