I Want My Real TV

26 07 2017

It’s the time of year when I begin to crave the return of my favorite television shows: The Blacklist, Elementary, Sherlock (PLEASE, Mr. Gatiss, bring back Sherlock).  There’s only so much baseball to be watched and there’s nothing else interesting, so I thought, in the wake of Shark Week on Discovery – a channel I never watch – I might offer a few suggestions for revamping their lineup to appeal to a different crowd – still not me, but what the heck!

Here’s my Top Ten Reimagined Discovery Channel Series for Summer 2017

10. Deadliest Catch – Law & Order Edition 

A man has an affair, contracts STD, which he shares with wife, who kills him. Ghost of Johnnie Cochran gets her off, but she later serves time for trying to steal back her family’s china.    

 9.  Naked and Afraid 

A groping, er, gripping documentary about the TSA

 8.  Mythbusters

Cancelled due to the total buying of all bullshit by too many Americans

 7.  Man vs Wild vs Batman vs Superman vs Predator vs Kramer

 6.  Dirty Jobs: the United States Congress

 5.  Amish Mafia “Leave the gun. Take the Funnel Cake.”

 4.  Gold Rush

Top interior designer Midas McGilditall redecorates the West Wing

 3.  River Monsters

A behind the scenes look at the current White House staff

2.  Tweet-Storm Chasers

Starring anyone but Donald Trump

1.  Jump the Shark Week

Promoted as a race between a great white shark and a great white swimmer. Turns out to be an open water version of a time trial for  Phelps (the non-shark) with a computer generated (also a non)-shark, animated to approximate the swimming speed of a real shark.  Anyone want to see if there’s anything in Al Capone’s vault???


Privacy ≠ Anonymity

19 07 2017

We have surely surrendered our privacy to the ether by our wide-open-armed embrace of the always-connected, always-on, virtual omnipotence that is the Internet.

So what?

Someone recently remarked that “we’ve lost our anonymity because of the total breech of any semblance of privacy.”

I disagree.

Sure, our tastes, habits, and interests are available to anyone who cares to Google us (and the people who own/pay Google.)  That’s losing privacy, but I believe it actually deepens our anonymity.  We are public, but we are mass-public . No matter the volume of data collected by LarrySergeyZuckerBezos, those tech giants will never know me.  They don’t want to know me and that is the beauty of everyone having no privacy – there are just too many of us to appear as unique individuals to these massive entities. 

In the face of all this all-access age, we, as individuals, are increasingly anonymous in many ways. While a lot more people know our names and our shopping habits, fewer and fewer folks would be able to identify us face-to-face. Many would point to this as a negative change in our social fabric.

I disagree.

Technology has enabled me to be casually social with lots of peripherally interesting folks while curating my circle of true friends to a group whose company I truly enjoy, whose counsel I respect, and whose ethics reflect my own.

Thank you, Internet, for making my life an open book and loading the shelves with so many other open books that only the few truly interested in knowing who I am will bother to turn a page or two.

Dear Diary, you are now obsolete. Love, Paula

Summer Daze

12 07 2017

Folks, I gotta admit it; I am running on fumes, this week.  Nothing in the tank.

With that full disclosure, being totally transparent, coming forward with the evidence (which you’d deduce for yourselves anyway), I offer you a little light mid-summer Top Ten List.

Top Ten Reasons I Respect Craft Show Exhibitors (and why I don’t do craft shows!)

10.  They accept the uncertainty of income stream that being self-employed embodies.

9.    They are dedicated to following their true nature; they were born to create beauty and they do what it takes to make it happen.

8.   They are eternally optimistic, never doubting that their hard work will pay dividends – and they are willing to do the hard work.

7.  They put their souls on display in fold-up store fronts that fit into the backs of Chrysler minivans.

Carol Heisler’s “Before” photo.

6.  They answer the same dumb questions from non-buying gawkers every day of every weekend of show season and never bite anyone.

5.  They can sleep on any horizontal-ish surface available to them when traveling for shows.

4.  They can go for two days, three hours, and forty-two minutes without a bathroom break, if a show’s good.

3.  They are the “postmen” of the art world, braving wind, rain, sweltering heat, toe-numbing cold, and managing to engage people about their craft.

2.  They produce some of the most magnificent works of fine art and fine craft anyone could imagine.

1.  They are some of my very best friends.

Tomorrow, I will visit a few of my fantastic friends who’ll fill the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts http://arts-festival.com/artists  and the People’s Choice Festival  http://peopleschoicefestival.com/  and I am sure my soul will be as full as my wallet will be empty.  I give my arty friends all a Top Ten!


One more admission – I “borrowed” these photos from these wonderful women’s Facebook pages. Hoping that forgiveness will be granted, since I did not ask their permission.

Pam Cummings Pottery See her at Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. (Note the shopper wielding the umbrella.)

Carol Heisler’s “Not your grandmother’s” Quilts will be at Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. BTW, Carol’s managing all the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen shows this year. Check http://www.pacrafts.org for them!

Kalpana Lehman’s Fine Soaps She’ll be at People’s Choice Festival.

Art by Clare Miller She’ll be at People’s Choice Festival.


Art Camp Virgin           

5 07 2017

Today, I went to summer camp. 

 I am sixty-three years old and this was my first time.

Let me clarify a few things:

                I was allowed to go to camp when I was a kid; I did not WANT to go to camp, so I didn’t.

                I like to work alone in my studio.  I am not a “painting party” kind of girl.

                When I am invited to an event, my instinct is always to decline.

So, how did today happen?

A woman I know – let’s call her Connie (because that’s her name) – has seven of the most amazing grandchildren on the planet.  These kids range from three to nineteen years old and have wildly different personalities and interests.  They all, for some reason I don’t understand but am ever grateful however, like me, even calling me Aunt Paula.  I feel like I hit the jackpot!

Well, every Wednesday, Connie has all the grands at her house for art and craft day and I was invited to join them.  My usual reluctance to leave my house made a momentary appearance and then evaporated at the thought of seeing all those great kids.

So, I went.

We all had a wonderful time pouring specially mixed paints onto canvases and making them do cool and pretty things by attacking them with butane torches – it was high drama with laughs and oohs and aahs (and dirty fingers and stained clothes).  We enjoyed a spectacular grandkid-dy lunch of grilled burgers and hot dogs and French fries, seasoned with many more laughs. When it was time for me to go, the hugs from those kids were like a tonic for my spirit.

I did not realize just how much my heart needed to be lifted until they did it.

Sometimes, other people see our needs more clearly than we do.  We call those people friends.  Thank you, my friends.  I do not take one moment of your affection for granted.  What a treasure. What a gift. Thank you.

By the youngest artist in the bunch. Pretty darned nice for a three-year-old (with some big kid help).

No Surprise!

28 06 2017

Our 32nd wedding anniversary was Monday.  My dear husband researched what is the traditional gift for the occasion, only to find that there isn’t one. What he did find was the admonition that anyone married thirty-two years should damn well know what to get their spouse!

Husband knows very well that I do not like surprises.  As a matter of fact, I have an extremely bad reaction to them – they piss me off.  Sorry, I know that’s inappropriate, but it’s the way I’m wired. That said, he couldn’t bring himself NOT to buy me something to mark the occasion  .  .  .   I gotta hand it to him, this time. He walked the perfect line between satisfying my need to not be rankled and his need to bring me a gift. 

Boli and Bubbly!

 The man really does know me very well.

Drugs, Death, Dignity, and Decency

21 06 2017

Carrie Fisher died.

She was someone’s child. She was someone’s friend. She was someone’s beloved. She was sick and she succumbed to her illness.

That is the end of the story. Period.

Now, I know many of you will say, “But, she was using drugs. She died from using drugs.”

No, she died from complications of her illness. The drugs were the rash and the fever; they were NOT the disease.

We need to stop blaming people for being sick.

There are many diseases that are exacerbated by, perhaps even caused by, lifestyle choices. None of that means a thing, once the disease takes hold. At that point, no matter what happened before, the person is sick. They should be treated for their disease.

We need to stop blaming people for being sick.

Sure, we can lament the cost of other people’s bad choices on our society’s healthcare system.  We can point fingers and whisper – or outright accuse – that “they brought this on themselves,” but we should never be so smug as to think that we are immune to bad fortune.

We need to stop blaming people for being sick.

We all make poor choices that could lead to serious health issues.

We drive too fast.

We use our phones behind the wheel.

We fail to hold the rail when we’re carrying a basket of laundry down the stairs.

We share our (should be) private lives in very public forums.

We ALL make poor choices.

We need to stop blaming people for being sick.

Let’s stop pretending that we lucky ones are somehow better than sick people, regardless of their disease, whether they were complicit in its damage to them or not. Blaming people for being sick makes us a special kind of ugly that even the best plastic surgeon can’t fix, and we truly do have only ourselves to blame for that.

Family Food

14 06 2017

In nine days, my mother will host the Murphy family’s annual reunion. Mom was number twelve of fifteen kids and now she’s the last one standing from her generation. My sister and I are thrilled that so many of our cousins will be visiting Pennsylvania from all over the country.  From Florida to Washington to New York to California to Minnesota to Arizona,  we’ll have over three dozen Murphy relatives at the upcoming three-day party. 

I remember some unpleasant dust-ups at reunions past.  Mom’s brothers and sisters did not approve of the way she was raising us. They were not hesitant to let her know “You’re spoiling your kids rotten, Mil.”  I can’t argue that we were treated pretty darned great.  I will say that we are not, however, rotten.

 One of the things we were allowed to do was to refuse to eat foods we did not like. There was no sending to bed without supper, no sitting at the table with a plate of cold peas staring back at us. One of the side effects of that shameful coddling was that I grew to love cooking.

 When the family arrives next week, Mom won’t be hiring a caterer. She won’t be making dinner reservations at any restaurants. I will be cooking for all. It is a big job, but it is the least I can do for my mother who does so much for me – including making me a cheeseburger and bringing it to my high school every day of my senior year because I did not like the cafeteria food!

I am looking forward to a few days of hard work in the kitchen, lots of dishwashing, chopping, slicing, stirring, roasting, and serving to my family, close and far-flung.  If they don’t like what I’ve prepared, I can always whip up something else for them.  I learned that from my mom.

So, it’s a paper bag, but it could look a little like a toque. This was 1955 with my dad, who drank dreadful instant coffee prepared loving by yours truly at age one and a little. He aided and abetted Mom with all the spoiling. How lucky can a kid get!