kayaking on Loch Leven near Glencoe, Scotland, 2018

kayaking on Loch Leven near Glencoe, Scotland, 2018

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Andy Warhol

The latest buzz on Lake Charles' arts scene is the arrival of the Andy Warhol exhibit, "Celebrities," currently at the Imperial Calcasieu Museum, through March 3rd. The show features 15 silk screen prints of some of Warhol's beloved celebrities -- Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor . . . Mick Jagger is my personal favorite. I also enjoyed reading some of Warhol's quotes, interspersed between the prints.

My idea of a good picture is one in focus and of a famous person.

I never think that people die. They just go to department stores.

Wasting money puts you in a real party mood.

It would be very glamorous to be reincarnated as a great big ring on Liz Taylor's finger.

Then he substantiates all the above by saying . . .

I am a deeply superficial person.

And of course there's his most "famous" quote . . .

Everybody will be famous for 15 minutes.

I wonder why he was so fascinated by celebrity?

Pittsburgh is home to the Andy Warhol Museum. Warhol grew up in Pittsburgh. He attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) in 1949.

Before my family moved Louisiana, I took my sons to the Warhol Museum. For some reason, I most remember the room filled with silver mylar helium balloons which Warhol thought looked like clouds. I also recall the many magazine covers he created. Then there was the room where you had to be 18 or older for admittance. Obviously, the boys and I didn't see that part of the museum.

Pittsburgh readers, have you been to the Warhol? What did you think?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Pillow Talk

I woke up this morning with a stiff neck. I need a new pillow. I've been using the same pillow for way too many years -- not that I'm attached to it. I've been wanting to get a new one. I just can't find one I like better. Invariably, new pillows are too thick and bulky. But that's the problem with my old one. It's worn out and squashed too thin.

I think there should be a way to be "sized" for proper pillow fit. You know, the way my feet were measured by the patient middle-aged bald-headed man who worked in every shoe store I was ever in as a kid. Pillows should come in more precise sizes than thick, thicker, and thickest. Shouldn't we be able to measure the distance between shoulder and ear and buy a specific size? I don't like my head to be tilted up at an angle. I want my head to be perfectly aligned with my neck and spine. But that's the problem with my current pillow. My pillow is so thin, my head tips down. Hence, the sore neck this morning.

But I'm daunted by the task of pillow shopping. So many choices! Down feather-filled, polyester foam, synthetic foam, latex foam, memory foam. There are pillows for side-sleepers, back-sleepers, stomach-sleepers, and multi-position sleepers. I tend to toss and turn, so I guess that puts me in the multi-position category. And then there's such a wide range of prices; from ten bucks for a two-pack at the JC Penney white sale, to $150.oo or more for the high-end at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. My head spins just thinking about all the options.

So, I'm going pillow shopping this week. Any suggestions? What kind of pillow do you like?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Kayaking the Vermilion

Have you every surprised yourself and done something you thought you couldn’t do?

Last weekend, I joined some fellow kayakers for a paddle down the Bayou Vermilion from Abbeville to Palmetto Island State Park. I was told it was “approximately nine miles.” I only started kayaking last summer. The farthest I had paddled was around five miles. I was usually sufficiently tired after those five miles. Could I paddle nearly double that? I wasn’t sure. But it was a beautiful winter day and I wanted to get out. My kayak had been in the garage for too long.

The weather was perfect. Warm and very little wind. We headed south with the current. I felt great. A few miles into the trip, someone informed me that, no, this trip was not nine miles, but actually eleven. Maybe nine miles as the crow flies, but not as the river winds. Eleven miles, huh. A niggle of self-doubt crept into my head. Could I do it? By this time, clouds had formed, the wind pushed from the south, and the tide started coming in. We were not only paddling against the wind, but against the current as well.

I paddled on. Prior to the trip, I only knew one other paddler out of our group of fifteen. We were quite a variety of kayakers – the group included a priest and his beagle, a six year old and his dad, two married couples, and an assorted mix of the rest of us. I enjoyed making some new friends. Conversation helps pass the miles. Around mile four we took a lunch break. I had no idea how long the trip would take, and, while I did have a small snack, I was wishing I’d packed more food. One nice guy shared his homemade deer jerky. That helped. Note to self – pack more snacks.

We continued on. At around ten miles I got pretty excited, thinking we were almost done. I felt somewhat tired but was doing alright. When one guy suggested we take a break, I asked, “Why are we taking a break? Aren’t we almost there?” And at that point I learned the park was still three or more miles away. (They know this via these handy GPS gadgets hanging around their necks or on their smartphones.) My heart sunk. At that point, I couldn’t imagine paddling three more miles. But honestly, I didn’t have much choice. I just kept paddling, stroke after stroke, bend after bayou bend.

Finally, after 13.4 miles and five hours of paddling, we arrived at the park! We devoured an apple pie one gal had brought. Then drove back to Abbeville and ate a much-earned dinner at Shuck’s Seafood Restaurant.

If I had known at the outset that the route would be 13+ miles, would I have attempted it? Probably not. But I’m glad I went. I learned I could paddle a whole lot farther than I thought I could. And that’s a good feeling, to accomplish something I thought was out of reach.

Think of something you think you can’t do. Then challenge yourself. Dare yourself. Go out and prove yourself wrong. You’ll be glad you did.

(Thanks to Ian Wright for photos.)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Day, 2012

Happy New Year, everyone! We welcomed 2012 by going sailing today. A strong north wind billowed the stay sail and pushed us along at such a clip, there was no need to unfurl the main sail. Maybe it was the nip in the air, but we had the entire lake to ourselves. Back at the marina, we joined some friends for a New Year’s feast of pork, cabbage, black-eyed peas, and red velvet cake with cream cheese icing. I contributed a pan of pierogies, sauerkraut, and kielbasa for some Pittsburgh flair.

It’s so tempting, this time of year, to wonder what the new year holds, to make plans, and resolve positive changes. Nothing wrong with good intentions. But I’ve learned over the course of my life that life is unpredictable. We have goals and we work hard to achieve them. We set a course . . . but what happens when we lose our compass? Are we disheartened and disillusioned when our plans go awry? Sometimes life sends us on an alternate current. Often these course changes are where we discover the most joy and excitement. Possibly the most growth. Can we adapt and ride the waves that come our way, be they ripples or tsunamis? I’m not one much for new year’s resolutions, but if I had to choose one, it would be to strive to be flexible and take one day at a time.

I wish you all a year of thrills, adventures, and new discoveries!