Delights: October 7 to October 13

October 7: I screamed. Jeremiah obligingly screamed too. So I screamed again. That ghoulish face in the window. That creepy organ music. That spooky abandoned dancehall, marooned by retreating lake water. 

For our October movie watching, we’ve selected horror. (I mean horror that registers as a -1 on a scale of 0-10.) Our first choice was Carnival of Souls, a low-budget 1962 cult classic filmed in Lawrence, Kansas, and Utah. Jeremiah agreed with my choice: “Mom, you’ve been telling me about this movie since I was ten. Time to watch it.” 

True. Back in the early 1980s, I was living at home. I devoured late-night movies (Cary Grant week! Fred & Ginger! Noir!) and one night at 11:30 pm I settled in to watch whatever our local station had cued up. My Dad was away, and my Mom decided to watch with me. The movie was Carnival of Souls. Our family room was dark, with large uncurtained windows on three sides. Reflections jumped, and so did we. The protagonist screamed, and so did we. 

The movie rolled to its creepy conclusion. We turned out the lights behind us, but hadn’t yet illuminated the path to bed. I rushed to the doorway. My mother rushed to the doorway. We loved each other. We’d sacrifice anything for each other. But neither of us wanted to be the one left behind in that dark room. We collided in the doorway and wedged ourselves stuck.

Maybe we laughed. More likely we unstuck ourselves and ran, leaving the ghoul far behind.

Bonus: Here’s the trailer, if you dare.

On Saturday, Kevin rode a 100 mile loop to the Atlantic Ocean. Wow. Although this photo shows Kevin completing a ride from the MIssouri River to the Mississippi River). But his triumph (and our pride) is exactly the same.

October 8: On our way to the beach, my friend Kathy and I could have grabbed quick eats on the road. But we decided to explore the old Maryland town of Cambridge. Home to American hero Harriet Tubman and heroic protests for civil rights, Cambridge is a small town nestling against the big Choptank River in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Kathy and I wandered the 19th century streets in search of an inviting restaurant.

We found one — a microbrewery that threw its arms to the street. In three wide, adjoining storefronts, RAR Brewing offers three vibes: a tap room, with a view of the brewing vats and nests of comfy chairs; a cocktail room with big tables for group seating; and a more traditional restaurant. Massive garage doors rolled up to open the tap and cocktail rooms to the sidewalk. Kathy and I accepted RAR’s invitation. We settled in with $5 drafts and $8 hamburgers (amazing prices to us Washington, DC folks). 

Although we knew the beach awaited us, Kathy and I lingered. I suspect RAR will see us again.

Bonus: While navigating a National Park trail winding through Assateague’s sand dunes, Kathy and I heard the crackle and whoop of police loudspeakers in the parking lot. We turned around. (I had been evacuated from Assateague in July when unexploded 1950s ordnance washed ashore.) We arrived at the parking lot to see a band of horses and clusters of people. A man had stopped us on the beach to plead, “Where are the horses??” I hope he found them.

Nature’s art on the Dunes Trail at Assateague National Park

October 9: Riding back from the beach, Kathy and I traveled back country roads and gaped at pumpkins the size of classroom chairs. Eventually we saw an antique red MG convertible, with an old-time leather suitcase strapped to the trunk. The top was down and the driver was smiling. We smiled too when we saw his companion: a Halloween skeleton along for the ride.

October 10: Last week, on the day I visited the Whistler-Hiffernan exhibition, I also stopped by the Phillips Collection to see the Lou Stovall exhibition before it closed. In 1969, Lou Stovall helped found Washington, DC’s Dupont Center as an artists’ museum, workshop and community space. Stovall was also an acclaimed printmaker. Just as the Whistler-Hiffernan exhibition encouraged me to reflect on the creative collaboration between artist and model, the Stovall exhibition invited me to consider the partnership between the designer of an image and its printer. 

Peace, 1968, by Lou Stovall, b. 1937, Athens, Georgia. Silkscreen print.

The Phillips displayed groovy concert posters from the 1960s and early 1970s, and the information card showed two artists’ names: both the image-designer and the printmaker. While Stovall printed his own work, he also brought to life the work of other artists. Stovall applied technical skill, color savvy, and acuity in understanding the designer’s vision. 

The work truly belongs to both of them. I will wonder, when I see other silkscreens in museums, whether the artist printed their own work or whether another artist stands (unseen) behind it.

Roberta Flack, 1968, by Lloyd McNeill, American, 1935-2021, and Lou Stovall, b. 1937, Athens, Georgia. Silkscreen print.

October 11: I taught 7th grade civics yesterday and today. (To Nate’s laughing dismay, I introduced myself as the Civics Queen because the executive, legislative and judicial branches had tangled themselves in my career.) My job was to be curious (or admonitory) as the students completed projects on the obligations, responsibilities and attributes of citizenship. The teacher had encouraged the students to present their ideas in novel ways, and I saw a yard-long ribbon of text spooled around a cardboard film reel, chunky slices of cardboard cake, and a ballot box. 

I also saw a boy with a sack of baseballs, each with a duty, responsibility or attribute taped to it. “Why did you choose baseballs?” I asked. He tilted his head, bemused. “Because I like — baseball???” “So make it work for you,” I said. And before long he, I and his buddy were short-tossing the baseballs to each other with questions prompted by his text. To my astonishment, our game lasted about 10 minutes and the two boys really got into it. (I did too.) 

Maybe the boy will make his project interactive. Or maybe this was simply a moment when two fidgety boys learned, as I had, that civics could be fun.

I Love You, 1970, by Lou Stovall, b. 1937, Athens, Georgia. Silkscreen print.

Bonus: In apt homework for the substitute civics teacher, tonight I addressed — for the first time in my life— a governing body in my capacity as private citizen. 

The governing body: Our school board. My topic: a $3/hour pay raise for substitute paraprofessionals. My time limit: three minutes. My heart rate: remarkably normal. My impact: who knows? But it makes for a good story the next time I teach civics. 

October 12: Our local movie theater offers “Hitchcocktober” each year. So Jeremiah, my friend Katharine, and I saw Rope (1948), a chilling story that entwines suspense — don’t open that chest! — and humor. The 80-minute movie is filmed in six long takes, purportedly in real time, at a dinner party for the victim’s parents hosted by the victim’s murderers. 

Jimmy Stewart (not one of the murderers, but…) solves the crime, and was appalled to learn that ideas have consequences.

October 13: American artist Alma W. Thomas (1891-1978) hovers over me like a patron saint. Tonight, the Phillips Collection offered a one-act play written by Caleen Sinnette Jennings about Thomas, her Washington kitchen studio, and her philosophy of life. The staged reading was amply illustrated by photographs and images of Thomas’ work.

Iris, Tulips, Jonquils, and Crocuses by Alma Thomas, 1969 (left); Portrait of Alma Thomas at the Whitney Museum of Artvia Culture Type (center); and Resurrection by Alma Thomas, 1966 (right)

After a career as a middle school art teacher, Thomas reinvented herself as an abstract painter at the age of 69 and hit her stride at 75. Despite painful arthritis, she created her magnificent Azaleas painting (a triptych measuring 13 feet x 6 feet) when she was 85. Thomas said, “The older I get, the younger I feel.”

Red Azaleas Singing and Dancing Rock and Roll Music, 1976, by Alma Thomas, American (1891-1978), Smithsonian American Art Museum. Lucky me: I can visit it again and again.

During the play, Thomas addressed the audience as Howard University students eager to learn about her life and art. At one point, she urged us to raise our arms over our heads and join her in proclaiming three principles animating her later life. “Joy!” “Adventure! “Beauty!” we shouted.

Thank you, Miss Thomas. I’ll take it from here.

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Breeze Rustling Through Fall Flowers, 1968, by Alma Thomas, American (1891-1978). The Phillips Collection.

13 thoughts on “Delights: October 7 to October 13

  1. What a great week (and you have conquered Covid too!). I always enjoy seeing the art works you have seen, and your burger and beer lunch sounds just the thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It does feel good to be out and about again. I’m glad you enjoy our art museums as much as I enjoy yours. I love sharing these experiences — and it’s motivating! (“This is Carol Ann, your culture reporter for Fashioned For Joy, standing in front of the National Gallery of Art.”)

      And I was very much thinking of you when my friend and I landed at RAR Brewing. A tiny bit of Wellington popped up here!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “Joy!” “Adventure! “Beauty” – great words to live by! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true. And it felt enlivening to throw our arms up as an audience — cheered on by “Alma Thomas” — and claim those words as our own.


  3. Lucky you is right! Alva Thomas’s work and her brilliant use of colors make my heart sing. As a late bloomer, I am so inspired by her and how creative she was in her elder years. Thanks so much for introducing me to her.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really appreciate both parts of your comment, Laurie. Certainly, I share your reaction to Thomas’ work. And the inspiration we can draw from Thomas’ “late blooming” is so powerful for me. I think about you celebrating your birthday — and your THIRD book in your trilogy — so recently. That’s inspiring too!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Looks like normality has returned after your brief encounter with Covid. Although just what is normal about “pumpkins the size of classroom chairs” and a Halloween skeleton hitching a ride in an antique red MG convertible currently escapes me! Wonderful images, eloquently described!

    On a more serious note, do you think civics classes have much of an impact? We didn’t have them in my day here in the UK (OK, I admit that was MANY decades ago!) and I wonder if I’d have become a better person / citizen if I’d had an experience of this sort. Any thoughts?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for smiling about the skeleton’s joy ride and the enormous pumpkins! And you ask a good question about civics. I got only a tiny glimpse of the curriculum, but I do think it helps: more than “the three branches of government,” the Civics class I visited emphasized the attributes of being a good citizen and ways to participate. If the class plants — or reinforces — the idea in just 25% of them, I think it’s a good use of time!

      And, in the spirit of dissent, I must disagree with your self-characterization. Judging entirely from the curiosity, respect, generosity, and critical thinking exhibited in your posts and comments, I’d say your schooling (and parents, et al.) did a darn good job with you, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I think my parents and my schools did a good job. I like to believe I do them credit but sometimes succumb to self-doubt, so I’m grateful to you, Carol Ann, for your kind words and positive assessment.

        Regrading civics lessons, I guess that we have to assess their benefits on an individual level. They are not going to change the world, or even the US, but if they encourage just a few individuals to grow and develop then they are worthwhile. But I do wish I’d had the opportunity to be exposed to this stuff, way back in the day.

        Liked by 1 person

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