4 October 2017

At The Mansion, Diane Sings To The Birds.

Diane Sings To The Birds

Every afternoon, Diane sings to the parakeets in the hallway, she sings of safety and love, she promises to care for them and protect them, and to see that they are never hurt and always safe and fed. And the parakeets sing and dance for her.

She brings seed and cookies for them, and today,I  listened to her beautiful song and asked her if I could come back tomorrow and record a video of her singing to the parakeets and she told me she would love that.

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The Mansion: Poetry Month Gets Underway

Poetry Month

Poetry Month got underway at the Mansion this afternoon, poet Jackie Thorne and I began teaching a series of poetry workshops. We both gave a talk, read some poetry, talked about the different forms.

Jackie read from her very beautiful new book of poetry, Gone To Ground. She talked about her writing process, how she gets her ideas, how she puts a poem together. We read from a number of poets, including Mary Oliver.

We are returning for the next few weeks to help the residents write their own poems, maybe even publish a volume or a pamphlet.

We started out writing a poem together with the six or seven residents participating in the workshop.

We titled the first poem "Family Memories," and emotional and  universal subject at the Mansion. We asked each of the residents to offer a single line about their family memories, and perhaps return to finish them individually later.

They were shy and hesitant at first, but then they warmed up to it.

Each offered a line from their own family memories:

Joan: Good people, up to a point.

Alan: I hated them. I don't have a family. They are just a shadow.

I escaped. I just ran and came away.

Jane: My mother's boyfriend Frank. I thought, if I were a bird, what would I do?

Madeline: Stabbed in the heart, I'll never forget the look on my father's face.

He was a longshoreman.

Ben: My dad was my mentor, he taught me a lot of things.

Bob: My father greased the hinges on the old barn door when I went off to school,

my mother asked him why, and he said I don't have to listen for Bob to come home so late any more.

Now, I can grease the barn door.

Alice. Love, I guess.

I could see a lot of emotions opening up, so could Jackie. We'll be back next month.

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At The Mansion: Winnie And Red On The Porch. The Beach Boys.

Winnie And Red On The Porch

Red works the outside of the Mansion as well as the inside. He is getting to know Winnie, a farmer most of her life, new to the Mansion. She is a dog lover and Red looks for her when we come outside on a beautiful day. He stands next to her for ten or fifteen minutes, and then we move on.

The Mansion work is ongoing. Connie needs a new lift chair for her very serious back troubles, her knitting has been interrupted.

I am hoping to get some catered special meals into the Mansion over the holidays, between Thanksgiving and Christmas (holiday decorations for the Mansion would be most welcome.) The boat ride on Lake George was a stunning success, so was our "pizza party," catered by the Round House Cafe.

We are planning a series of outings. I would like to organize a Beach Boys live concert outing in November for five or six of the residents – they love the Beach Boys. The seats would have to be on the ground floor I think, and the cheapest tickets there are $130, the better ones $370 and up. If I could raise $600 OR $700, I think we could do it, I think five residents and two aides.

I was surprised at the interest at the Mansion about the Beach Boys, I think it would be wonderful for them, they are playing at Proctor's Theater in Schenectady, N.Y. I'd like to try to raise the money.

Art is getting his new glasses this week, I hope to get him some Bible Stories. Bill is struggling to read again, we are talking about ways for him to feel less isolated. He would love to hear from his gay brothers and sisters, the address is Bill, 11 S. Union Avenue, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816.

The cakes, cupcakes and cards were a big hit with him. He says he is still lonely, but he is more optimistic about his life.

The Beach Boys are coming to Troy, N.Y., it would be great to take some of the Mansion residents there. Music lifts them up. I'm also trying to set up an OctoberFest lunch at the end of October.

Our fund is getting on the low side, there is about $1,300 in it, and I hope to renew my refugee work shortly. Donations for good go to both.

If you would care to donate to the work of the Army Of Good – it is more vital than ever – you can do so by sending your donations to The Mansion/Refugee Fund, c/o P.O.  Box 205, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816. You can also send donations to the fund via Paypal, [email protected]

You can choose where you would rather your money go, and I will honor your requests. Please mark the donations for "The Mansion" or "The Refugees" or "For Both."

The Mansion residents love to get your letters. Here is a list of names of people who love to read them: Brother Peter, Art, Winnie, Jean, Ellen, Mary, Gerry, Sylvie, Jane, Diane, Alice, Jean, Madeline, Joan, Allan, Bill, John K., Helen, Connie, Bob, Alanna, Barbara, Peggie, Dottie, Tim, Guerda, Brenda, John Z.

Thanks, your support  and compassion has made an enormous difference in the lives of the Mansion residents.

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Open House: Kris Gregson Moss And Her Necklaces. On Sale.

Kris Moss

For the past several years, every January, just ahead of Maria's birthday, i've gone to the Cambridge Valley Artisan's Market on Main Street and bought Maria a necklace. She always fusses at me not to buy her things, but she loves these necklaces, they are quite unique and graceful.

I was happy that Maria invited the artist, Kris Gregson Moss, to show her work at the Open House. I bought one of them for Maria right away, she's wearing it now.

These ten bracelets – they range in price from $36 to $48 – are hanging up on the Schoolhouse Studio walls.

They are for sale at the Open House, and also to people seeing this online who can't be here at the Open House..

It's a tricky  balance for us, because we want  our far-away readers to have a chance to buy this art, but don't want to disappoint people who've come from all over the country to see us. So Maria is selling some of the art online right now, but some – the Pussy Hats – will go on sale Monday online if they are not sold over the weekend.

The Indian potholders and tote bags are also for sale now online.

If you are interested in the necklaces, please e-mail Maria at [email protected]

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Open House: Hand Painted Silk Scarves By Carol Conklin

Open House Land

The artist Carol Conklin came by to drop off her very varied art for sale at the Open House, which starts Saturday. These hand-painted silk scarves are amazing, they range in price from $70 to $100. Maria has decided to put them up for sale now, so that people who can't come to the Open House get a shot at them. If you are interested, please e-mail Maria at [email protected]

It takes a long time for Carol to make each one.

Maria is really on her game this week, she always has great art but this year the art show is alive with color, and light and meaning, from silk scarves to Pussy Hats to pincushions, Indian potholders, her potholders,  and some remarkable knitting, bracelets and pins.

The Schoolhouse Studio is practically levitating with energy and dazzling creativity.

During the weeks before the Open House, I am essentially a bachelor, living on my own. Maria and I get together for farm chores in the morning and then for lunch, and sometimes dinner. She will be in the studio all night setting up the art that has been arriving long after I'm asleep. She gets up at the crack of dawn, her head buzzing with display ideas, and then is gone.

When I want to talk to her, I call her or text her, she is completely immersed in what she is doing, it is exciting to see it, she loves this show and the artists who make it possible very much, she has put her mark on every part of it. I ferry food over there to keep her energy up, she will completely forget to eat.

We both are mindful of the fact that the vast majority of people reading this don't live anywhere near us, our readers are all over the country, Canada and parts of Europe. So if you are interested in these scarves I'd e-mail her,  I doubt they will be around long, there are other scarves but just a few hand-painted and on silk.

Carol Conklin is a brilliant artist, and we are proud to have her work here.

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