The Watermelon

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There’s something so refreshing about a bite of ice-cold watermelon on a hot afternoon.

Recently I bought a small watermelon to chill and slice.  The stores market them as “personal size” melons which always makes me smile, but they are ideal for just one person to eat over a few days. It had been a while since I bought a whole melon, but decided it was ridiculous to pay the price of an already sliced bowl of watermelon when it would only take a few minutes to cut up the small personal size melon. As I cut into it and the juice spread rapidly over the cutting board I had a flash flood of memories of summer watermelon cuttings and also the quick memory of why we always cut them outside on a nice stack of newspapers!

As I sliced I remembered my grandfather’s large sun-browned fingers and how expertly he could thump a watermelon to select the best choice.  He knew exactly the right thump and no one ever argued with him. The melon would be brought home and stored in the old refrigerator in what was called the utility room of their house.  Late afternoon when the heat and humidity was at its finest the melon and a large butcher knife would be taken outside to the concrete table in the backyard.  There, on the stack of newspapers, the melon would yield its red or yellow fruit.

The adults offered plates and forks as well as a shaker of salt.  However, the kids always declined all offers. I preferred to bite into the slice and knaw all the way to the rind with juice running down my chin and arms onto my clothes. I knew I would suffer a lecture from my mother about the stains on the clothing, but that would be later.  For now it was serious eating on the cool, sweet watermelon.  Lasting memories were created on those afternoons under the pine trees.

I remember in particular one round, very dark green watermelon that my grandfather brought in one day.  It was still warm from the field and he stated that he got it from a certain farmer and had picked it from the field.  As a child I assumed that the farmer was there and told my grandfather to help himself to a fresh melon. It had the darkest yellow meat and as I remember it was the best watermelon I ever ate.  When I mentioned this particular melon to my father many years later Daddy chuckled and shared that the adults had all suspected that the melon was not a gift from the farmer (as I had assumed), but that it had been plucked from the field when no one was looking.  Stolen!

Life and the puzzle or The puzzle and life

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I’ve always loved to work puzzles and generally have one spread out on the breakfast table at any time.  If company is coming and I need to use this table I just spread a table cloth over it and tell the company not to spill anything.  Family knows what’s underneath and will usually pull back the cloth and start working on it!

Each time I work on a puzzle I am reminded that working a puzzle is very similar to life and many life situations. Each puzzle is different, just like every human life, and there are different situations with each one.  So today I’m sharing a few observations about the similarities I’ve found.

Every puzzle worker has a little different process, but I always start with the outline as the straight edge pieces are easy to spot (assuming you are working a straight edge puzzle); the subject and color determine how to proceed. The outline reminds me of our early, formative years when we are babies and toddlers.  As we grow and mature the inside pieces are gradually filled in, usually in sections, until the life is complete and we pass on to the next life.

Many times I end up with a missing piece.  With this puzzle I knew fairly early that the piece just wasn’t in the box.  In life there is often a piece missing, too.  It may be a physical or psychological problem that presents itself at birth or later in life.  It may be something like a desired career or happy marriage that just never is “in the box”. However, I’ve found that sometimes the missing piece does appear later or, as in this case, I accepted the fact that it wasn’t there and proceeded anyway. So too in life with the missing piece.

Most puzzles are challenging and can often lead to giving up and crumbling the pieces in the box or at least being tempted to do so.  The challenge can also become a driving force of determination to finish. If a certain section just isn’t coming together then it is time to move to another section; often when you return to the difficult section it will come together much easier.  I’ve also had the experience of casually walking by the table and oh my, there’s the piece I need and then I can proceed! So too in life with the challenges we encounter.

While working on this puzzle I had another piece that I thought was also missing.  I had tried all the pieces that I thought were the right color and shape and nothing worked. But as I kept working I realized that surrounding pieces weren’t coming together either.  The culprit turned out to be a nearby sneaky piece that was a close match, but not the right one.  After I pulled out the offender the section went smoothly.  So too in life when we let an oversight hinder everything.

 

 

The handwriting issue

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Rotunda dome, Texas State Capitol, Austin Texas

The handwriting debate (cursive vs printing and legible vs illegible) is nothing new.  It’s been going on since the caveman started drawing on walls.  Mothers have moaned over children’s handwriting and complained about the new methods for a long time!

So, on a recent visit to the Texas State Capitol I had to laugh as I was reading a display about the Secretary of State’s office in the Capitol and the duties of the Secretary of State which include overseeing state elections. A timeline entry for 1946-47 states:

The Secretary of  State’s annual report noted that elections are “recorded in longhand, which is a tedious job, and few are qualified to write so that it can be read”.

Angry Bird

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I think we’ve all felt like this from time to time! And since it hovers over the electronic device repair shop I have to think of all the times I’ve wanted to take a device and just obliterate it. Do you know what I mean?

Kugel ball

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I’m not a scientist and certainly don’t understand physics.  But I love things like this!

The kugel ball is a perfectly balanced sphere that weighs 5000 pounds yet rotates freely. Pressurized water flowing between the ball and the sphere supports the weight and allows the ball to be easily rotated. Trust me, I don’t understand it!

And, just to note, kugel is German for ball or sphere.

Gross Domestic Product

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Ann Agee,Gross Domestic Product, 2010, porcelain and steel armature

My love of Blue Willow pottery drew my eyes to this piece immediately.  While the blue and white designs on porcelain attracted me it was the images on each plate that kept me staring.

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Domestic scenes fill the porcelain plates – scenes of kitchen tables, living room couches and chairs, empty dining rooms, and dishes drying on a rack  as seen above. The shapes and designs are captivating. Simple everyday scenes captured, frozen in time.

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The artist’s contemporary settings reference Northern sixteenth-century genre paintings and the household tableaus and goods (including Delftware) they captured.  Agee takes these stylistic ideas and reimagines them in clay and glaze as a reflection on domesticity, feminism, and artistic medium. (from the McNay Art Museum, Impressions, January/April 2017)