29 August 2010


I've been reading "Letters of E. B. White" Revised Edition, revised and edited by Martha White, his granddaughter. Mr. White is one of my favorite writers, having written "Charlotte's Web", "Stuart Little" and "The Trumpet of the Swan" as well as compilations of his many essays from "The New Yorker" magazine. Mr. White was born in 1899. In January 1929, he wrote to his brother Stanley about writing. Here are some quotes from that letter:
"I discovered a long time ago that writing of the small things of the day, the trivial matters of the heart, the inconsequential but near things of this living, was the only kind of creative work which I could accomplish with any sincerity or grace. . . The rewards of such endeavor are not that I have acquired an audience or following as you suggest (fame of any kind being a Pyrrhic victory), but that sometimes in writing of myself - which is the only subject anyone knows intimately - I have occasionally had the exquisite thrill of putting my finger on a little capsule of truth, and heard it give the faint squeak of mortality under my pressure, an antic sound."
"One nice thing about either writing or drawing is that it is both a direct and an uncertain way of making a living. To write a piece and sell it to a magazine is as near a simple life as shining up a pushcart full of apples and vending them to passersby. It has a pleasing directness not found in the world of commerce and business, where every motion is by this time so far removed from the cause and the return, as to be almost beyond recognition."

I heartily recommend you pick out anything written by Mr. White and spend some time with it. It will be well worth your time.

21 August 2010

Art Stories - 3

Art class at Mt. View Park included drawing, so I bought some Prismacolor pencils and a pad of drawing paper and struck out on the path to find a suitable subject. At the library, I found a book of Andrew Wyeth's painting of a neighbor, Helga. This is a reproduction of one of his paintings in which she is fully clothed; most were nudes. As I remember it, Mr. Wyeth kept the paintings from his wife for quite a while; she did find them out and there was some talk of an affair, but I don't remember the details. Anyway, here is Helga as reproduced in colored pencil - done in 1992.

13 August 2010

Art Stories - 2

After moving to Arizona, I took lessons in ceramics and spent many happy hours decorating ceramic pieces for the family. One piece was entered in a ceramics show and won first place. The cost of shipping the pieces to the east coast became prohibitive, so I switched to some art classes sponsored by the City of Scottsdale. I puttered around with pencil and watercolor, looking for a comfortable medium. One day the instructor brought in some photos she had taken on a trip to Hawaii and one struck me. So I pulled out some magic markers and a small piece of watercolor paper and started scribbling. This was the result.

12 August 2010

Me and Xerox

I was thinking this morning of some of the odd tasks I was asked to perform during my tenure at Xerox Corporation. One day I was called into our Department head's office with my manager. Oh no, not the ax! No, not that. I was handed a round trip airline ticket to New York City - first class, of course - and a canister of film. The instructions were very specific: take yon canister to such-and-such a film developing company, ask for Mr. so-and-so to have the film developed. Oh yes, don't let the film leave your eyes. It is very confidential. Okay, chief!
So off to the Rochester airport, on to NYC and the film developing company and the gentleman-in-charge with film canister clasped tightly to my breast. Upon reciting the instructions, the gentleman-in-charge looked at me as though I was some escaped lunatic. After a second or so of consideration, (I informed him that I had brought cash payment) he took me to the bowels of the operation where I could follow the progress of the film right up to entry into the darkroom, where I was stopped short and told to wait until the film came out of the development solution. Well! That wasn't part of the deal as far as I was concerned. My protest fell on deaf ears, so I acquiesced and waited impatiently until the film came into view. I was asked to identify the strip of film and was able to determine that it contained one of our Engineering aides standing next to a piece of equipment. After paying the bill, I walked outside, firmly clutching the developed film, hailed a taxi and departed for airport, Rochester, and Xerox. Mission accomplished.
I later learned that the film was a demonstration of a new faster copier that we had developed (the Xerox 2400). The reason for the trip to NYC instead of using the local Kodak developing facilities is that we and Kodak had become competitors in the copy machine business and our management didn't want the film to wind up in our competitors hands.
Ah, those were the good old days!

07 August 2010

Today's Chuckle

From today's Arizona Republic, today's chuckle:
"Economists estimate that it costs around a quarter-million dollars to raise a child from birth to 18 years old. And for that investment, you get a lifetime supply of critiques on your parenting."