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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Slime: not all that easy

I assumed making slime would be easy.
Actually, I never gave it a thought.

Leda, delightful ten-year-old granddaughter from Brooklyn was staying with us, and Monday afternoon I discovered her at my computer studying YOU TUBE videos for DIY Slime. There are many many said videos. They all avow their recipe to be easy. And they all seem to be narrated and produced by children, in some cases very young children. Leda and I agreed that following recipes devised by children half her age was probably not a great idea.
Many of them assert that their recipe can create slime without borax. Borax is the sine qua non of slime, but it is also the peanut allergy of slime.
The slime on the YOU TUBE videos appears in many different colors, exquisite shades of green or blue or purple. Leda wanted to make purple slime. She informed me that purple is her favorite color, and even if it is girlie, she doesn’t care.
I said that purple couldn’t be that girlie if is the color worn by Catholic cardinals. And popes.

We watched the videos together, and then we tried various combinations of shaving cream, contact lens solution, glue sticks, Elmer’s glue, shower gel soap, laundry soap, dish soap, and salt. Squashing glue sticks with a fork is harder than you would think, and then the glue gets stuck in the tines. We varied the amounts and rations when the indicated amounts failed to produce slime. We stirred fast with a spoon, then a toothpick, then a chopstick, then a whisk. We put the soap and salt solution in the freezer for the allotted time.
watched many videos, and followed the instructions faithfully. But time and again, we did not produce slime.
Later, Leda pointed out, “Nana, they can photo-shop those videos.”
“That would be cheating,” I said.
Leda rolled her eyes.
“I was really looking forward to that slime,” I said. And it was true.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

More lost garments. Any claimants?


Can you match the lost item with the place where it was found?


1. a. A third world country known for dentistry.
2. b. The DPW
3. c. A lonely place, a desolate place, a place far from the madding crowd, yet full of personal demons.
4. d. A classified secure location.
5. e. Old Croton Aqueduct, mile 18.
6. f. The road well travelled.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

A clipping service moves into the 22nd century

My mother has always been a world-class clipping service. For years her family and friends could expect to receive regular infusions of articles on topics of presumed interest.

I don’t know when she started sending articles about all things papal to her school friend Joan, in California. Joan and Mom were schoolmates at St Anthony’s in Long Beach, California, during WW2; my grandfather had returned to Egypt and the rest of the family waited for the war to end so they could join him. Later Joan became a nun, a modern social-working nun, but still very much a Catholic, and so of course my mother assumed she would want to keep abreast of news about the pope, any pope. When questioned about this many years ago, my mother asserted that newspapers in California did not cover news about the pope. Not ever. Never. I argued with her about this, pointlessly. I no longer argue with her.
Over the years, my mother has sent her brother hundreds, possibly thousands, of articles referencing Egypt. She sent her nephew anything about Elizabeth Warren. She sent me anything to do with honeybees, or saints. She sent my brother articles about the environment. I could go on.

So the current incarnation of her clipping service is not a complete stretch. Last fall she asked me if I knew Hillary Clinton. I had to admit that I did not personally know her. But I knew someone who did. Then she handed me a manila envelope stuffed with articles, mostly from the NY Times, about Hillary and her run for president, and asked me to deliver it. I said I would.
Earlier this week she handed me two bundles, and asked me to send them to “that woman over there”.

Of course I said I would make sure she received the articles. What else could I have said?
I could have wept, it is true.
My mother was never an Anglophile. Like her Belgian relatives, she is, or was, an anti-monarchist. But she delivered to me two packages filled with articles about Brexit and its implications, both addressed to the Queen of England.
Package number one contained 7 articles from the New York Times, dated from February to December 2016. There were 3 articles from the Economist, one from the Boston Globe, and one from This Week. Also in that package, addressed to the Queen of England, were a letter from her Belgian niece (first cousin once removed?), dated February 2017; a postcard, featuring a painting by Gustave Moreau of a peacock and Juno, from the same Belgian niece dated, November 2016; and an undated note from someone named Judy, relating the recent death of her sister-in-law.
Package number two likewise contained fourteen articles about Brexit and or Theresa May or both, clipped from the New York Times. And a receipt from The Cloisters gift shop.
How can I not find this phenomenon fascinating? My mother has no idea what or who Brexit is. She cannot name the queen. Yet she clipped these many articles, and in several cases, underlined them. Even as Alzheimer’s is wreaking havoc with her mind and memory, there remains a tattered relic of the impulse to gather evidence and to impart information.

But why Brexit? Why not the Syrian crisis, or Bolivian devaluation, or Marine le Pen? Why the Queen?

A few comments on the Whitney Biennial

There is much to admire, and much to scratch your head over, at this year’s Whitney Biennial. And I am a firm believer in head-scratching, even more than admiration. (But first I had to learn that it is spelled biennial, not biennale, as I have been doing for the past few decades. Apparently, it is never too late to learn how to spell something.)

If you have any inner ear issues, or a tendency to mal de mer, I would strongly suggest steering clear of the Virtual Reality piece. A sign warns you about the ‘graphic violence’, but I never got as far as the violence because the nausea kicked in.
If you, like my daughter, have a pathological aversion to clowns and mines, you can skip the performance piece, “Liberty” on the rooftop terrace.
Several pieces (well, at least two), seem to be bathroom themed: shower heads and colored tiles.
And then there is the wall of baloney.
In one room full of trees, a young man sat on a plywood box wearing a headpiece constructed from twigs, paper, wire and otherwise random leafy bits. One of the planters had a spirometer lying cockeyed in the dirt. (I took the occasion to explain the post-surgical use of the spirometer to a very uninterested bystander.) Occasionally, the young man gets up to speak about trees and bark, and he seemed very amiable. As museum jobs go, his seems quite pleasant.
Here is a painting I liked.

And this is a photo of sugar cane fields burning. The blue rectangle is from across the way. It has nothing to do with the sugar cane aflame.


My favorite pieces were identical wooden grids, carved by Matt Browning of Seattle, out of single blocks of wood. They appear to be interlocked, as in a chain, but look more closely and you see that there are no seams. They cannot be unlocked. Or undone. Or even explained.