Thursday, October 25, 2007

Venus, Cupid and Me

This is one of my favorite paintings by Titian. It has been hanging in my master bathroom since the fall of 2004. My daughter and I had gone to a Renaissance exhibit in Memphis and I just had to have it. At the time, I was 20 pounds lighter. These days I look at it and think: My body really looks like her. Why can't plumpness be fashionable? Immediately, I start to feel bad about myself. What was once my favorite print, has become a source of disgust. If only I could disassociate my own flabby tummy from it and return to the time when I enjoyed this lovely piece. Why should my similarity to the woman's shape change the way I view it? Isn't she still beautiful? Yet Venus seems to say to me, "No one would paint you. I'm afraid you're past your prime, dear." Then she sticks out her tongue, lolls happily with the animals and angels, completely comfortable with her rotundity. Saucy wench.

Actually, there are many things I love about this painting. Initially, I was drawn to it because of the Papillon at the foot of the chaise. Venus' body seems to glow against the dark scenery, lending an ethereal quality. Cupid reminds me of a Raphael angel with his round face and pudgy hands. I always wanted a nude Renaissance print hanging somewhere in my house. Little did I know that I would soon take on the likeness of the nude and end up with a complex.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Puppy Mills

Taken from When we buy a pet or even shop at a store that sells puppies, we contribute to a heartless underground industry that forces dogs to spend their entire lives in cages constantly breeding to support consumer demand for puppies.

This video by Charlize Theron, explains a lot:

Please THINK about the big picture before you purchase that seemingly cute little puppy. The more people who support this way of "buying" pets, the more they will be forced to multiply in horrible conditions. Instead, think about all the abandoned pets that need homes.

Pets purchased from a store tend to be impulse buys. Failing to consider all the ways this precious pet will impact your life can lead to behavioral and other problems. The worst part is the poor health quality of these pups. Working at the emergency clinic, I have personally witnessed everything from Parvo to hip dysplasia to seizures, and worse. These are serious problems, forcing their owners to make serious choices. Be responsible and adopt from your local shelter.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

About Me

First and foremost, I'm the mother of three grown, wonderful children. The words "unconditional love" finally had meaning the day they each were placed into my arms.

Raised as a strict Roman Catholic I grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and spent my summers in Sunshine, Louisiana with my maternal grandparents. After 30+ years of dabbling in Baptist, Presbyterian, and other bible churches, I am currently learning to become an Orthodox Anglican, along with my husband. I love the incense. I love the holiness and quiet reverence during mass. I love the responses and prayers we all cite together. It's like going back home after a very long, arduous journey.

My dad became a cop in the late 60s and was written about in the book Race and Democracy: The Civil Rights Struggle in Louisiana, 1915-1972. He is tough as nails which is why he has his own web site. He and my mother divorced when I was about 8, so most of my formative years were spent unsupervised while my mother worked. She taught me a lot about working hard and being honest and not expecting a handout from others. We were a self-sufficient, cohesive little unit until I smoked my first joint at 13 years old. I went through a terrible, rebellious stage, which nearly killed my mother. Somehow we lived through that and I became a responsible adult. The best part? My mother forgave me.

Mama was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease over 20 years ago. I am always on the lookout for new treatments, medicines, or surgical developments. She doesn't tolerate her current medication well. Many times it causes nausea and other unmentionable symptoms. But without the prescriptions, she would not be able to get around at all, so it's the lesser of the evils. I talk to her every day at the end of my work day. Sometimes it's just a quick five minute conversation, and other times it's a 30 minute gabfest if she's up to it. It's about all I can do from 500 miles away.

I collect renaissance angels and fleur de lis objects. I love photography and wish I was better at it. Love, love, LOVE my dogs - any dogs, really. They are the epitome of loyalty and devotion, which are two traits I hold in high esteem.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Swamp Creature

My grandparents' property in Sunshine, LA
Today I started thinking about all the things I miss about Louisiana. What I miss most is probably my maternal grandmother, who was the personification of Cajun culture. Maw-Maw spoke in broken French often, usually in short phrases to us kids. The most common phrase was "Mon Dieu!" It was usually spat out in disgust over something that made her mad. If she felt pity for someone, she would say, "Shah, bébé". She had entire conversations in French with her sister, which was annoying because I was a nosy little girl.

Food is a huge part of the culture, and crawfish stew was Maw-Maw's specialty. It was chock full of the most succulent crawfish tails. She also made grits topped with redeye gravy. I wish I had asked her how she made that special gravy before she died. No one else in the family knows what I'm talking about. It was different from the roux she used in her other stews. It had a red color to it and a unique, bold taste. Her filé gumbo and crab stew were mouth watering as well. Although Maw-Maw didn't make this, I really miss boudin and fresh beignet's with powdered sugar on top. Outside at the bingo hall, there was a married couple that made jambalaya cooked in a huge, black kettle, with a fire underneath. There's something about cooking in black, cast iron that truly enhances the flavor of food.

The bayou was a scary place as a child. Maw-Maw told some pretty terrifying stories in an effort to dissuade me from venturing too far from the house. She instilled a lot of fear in her children and the grandchildren were no exception. Since I had to live with my grandparents for many summers after my parents divorced, I heard the warnings almost daily. Some days I would feel brave enough to climb up the levee, around the bend to a remote part of the river. A screeching bird or a twig snap would send me squealing back home in record time. According to Maw-Maw, beyond the bend in the levee lived a swamp man, covered in algae, that would eat me alive if he found me. I believed it too. I wouldn't advocate this type of deterent today, but looking back, I understand why she did it. After all, some people we knew had indeed drowned in the swamp, or been attacked by alligators. I just wish she hadn't painted such a vivid picture of the swamp creature. It makes me shiver to this very day.