An Artist Date at the Cincinnati Art Museum


Artist date *

I made a date with some painters and goddesses. The painters were for the most part Impressionists. And any chance I get, I bow to Quan Yin in the Buddhism section.

Was I still in Paris? No, it was Sunday in Cincinnati. The location? My hometown museum, Cincinnati Art Museum. Founded in 1881, it has been called one of the most comprehensive collections in the Midwest.

I was going with a friend but things changed. Already showered and psyched up, I decided to still visit, alone, and make it an artist date. This usually involves writing so I am writing this first part sitting in a comfortable chair in the Procter & Gamble Gallery in the Cincinnati Wing.

I just saw Raphael’s Lady & the Unicorn along with a print of the Mona Lisa. How timely, having just returned from viewing the ‘real’ Mona Lisa in Paris. And how different. At the Louvre, a crowd of tourist groups swarmed with selfie sticks to capture Mona and take her back to Japan and wherever else with them. I was pleased to learn that CAM outlaws these obnoxious intrusions (my word outlaw).

After finding that only one Cezanne and Van Gogh were currently displayed, the others in storage or on loan, I strolled through the rooms glancing at the others, although disappointed. Yet how spoiled am I: I got to spend two afternoons in that ultimate museum of Impressionism, the Musee d’Orsay!

I discovered a new goddess today, right on the main floor as you approach the Great Hall. She is Atargatis (also known as Tyche), a deity in what is now modern Jordan. This “micaceous quartz limestone” was purchased in 1939 so the museum has had her awhile but recently brought her out of storage. Hurray! As is so often true, she was a fertility goddess yet also held reign over grain, fish, and (last but not least) prosperity. Her lunar powers are represented by the crescent moon above her right shoulder and atop her scepter. The zodiac figures reflect the agricultural cycle marked by spring and autumn festivals. Appropriately, I discovered her today, mid-October, during my favorite season.

As I drove home, I took a back route past woods and plenty of leaves beginning to turn orange and red. Change is in the air. Transitions. New beginnings.

* This phrase taking an “artist date” comes from author Julia Cameron

The day after tomorrow ….. Paris!


Bonjour! Je ne comprends pas.

Good day! I don’t understand. What don’t I understand? First, how I got so lucky–lucky enough to be taking this trip to Paris (with a side jaunt to London). My best friend Victoria (who knows some French) and I are renting an apartment in St. Germain-des-Pres just a few blocks from Luxembourg Garden. We have a sweet little square around the block in front of St. Sulpice Church. As Rick Steves says, we’ll be in a “colorful neighborhood of boutiques and cafes.” Oui! Although our specific neighborhood is St. Germain, the entire area is called The Left Bank.

We chose this area for our home base in honor and memory of those American expats: Gertrude Stein, Natalie Barney, Ernest Hemingway, and many others. You likely know two out of these three. Who is Natalie? Her early years were spent in the Cincinnati, Ohio area (born in Dayton in 1876, moved to D.C. by ten). Her mother was a painter–Alice Pike Barney. Cincinnatians, does Pike Street and the Taft Museum ring a bell? She was later said to claim she knew by age 12 that she was lesbian and was determined to “live openly, without hiding anything.” Since she was filthy rich, she could pretty much do what she wanted. She moved to Paris and stayed, for over 60 years hosting a literary salon. This weekly gathering saw many famous (and infamous) people meeting to socialize and discuss literature, art, and other topics. Natalie featured women’s writing while, at the same time, hosting prominent male writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald, T.S. Eliot, Rainer Maria Rilke, and more. In the late 20s Radclyffe Hall drew a crowd after her novel The Well of Loneliness had been banned in the UK. A reading by poet Edna St. Vincent Millay packed the salon in 1932. Colette performed a daring dance. And, yes, Gertrude Stein came to visit although she had her own salon going.

Early on I saw that our apartment lies geographically between Natalie’s 20 rue Jacob and Gertrude’s 27 rue de Fleurus. Vic and I intend to visit (the front of) these two locations famous to women writers and especially us lesbian writers. Alas, neither have been transformed into museums. But these two women will be on our minds while we stroll and drink expresso in their neighborhood. And we will honor them by our own writing.

I intend to use this blog to post thoughts and happenings along the way. Please subscribe (free) or watch for postings as they are automatically uploaded to Facebook and Twitter. Au revoir … for now.

Happy Interdependence Day

May we remember to notice the simple beauty all around us!

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Not quite Midnight in Paris

I’m smiling again–post father’s funeral and open heart surgery. Frankly, it’s been a helluva year. But I have something fun to look forward to: Paris!

Tonight I had dinner at Victoria’s apartment. She is my longtime friend from back in the 1970’s and we are traveling to Paris (with a side trip to London). As the trip gets closer, it becomes more exciting.

“Midnight in Paris” is a movie about the writer Gil who travels back in time to meet Gertrude Stein, Hemingway, and other literary and artistic figures of the 1920’s. Vic and I plan to do our own literary tour–but probably not at midnight: we will be based in Saint Germaine and trek to the former living spaces of Gertrude Stein, Natalie Barney, Ernest Hemingway, and, yes, especially the cemetery where so many famous figures are buried–Pere Lachaise Cemetery. Not only Chopin but Jim Morrison of The Doors, Edith Piaf, Sarah Bernhardt, Proust, Rossini, and Isadora Duncan. And let’s not forget the very witty Oscar Wilde.

We will sip cappuccinos and eat decadent desserts and then, hopefully, walk them off. Art will hang in the air like an enchanting mist. The Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, the Left Bank, the Marais. I will approach the Eiffel Tower but not ascend for I am afraid of such heights.

And, yes, we are both planning to write–hopefully, something more inspiring than this blog post. Until then, Au revoir!

Breathing through Transition: my fastwrite for opening circle at the writing teachers’ retreat

I am learning to breathe through transition. Evidently, I have been breathing although often unbeknownst to me.
I AM ALIVE! There, I’ve said it, no joyously proclaim it. After 3 chest pains in 6 days, thankfully I stayed ahead of an impending heart attack. Friday a cardiologist, Monday tests, hoping for a stent or two. Surprise! I would need open heart surgery!
I got to come home for recovery because I had enough compassionate people in my life to bring me meals, walk my dogs, keep me comfortable.
Four months later and I am feeling like a breathing glad-to-be-living human being.
But, wait, there’s more. We at WWfaC often talk about the both/and. My father is dying. I say the ‘d’ word because two days ago he entered hospice. He is nearly 85 and wants only to be pain-free. I could already breathe more easily when I entered his hospice room: inviting space, comfortable, a couch, a small fridge—and he can eat or drink whatever he pleases. He is already more relaxed than in the various hospitals and rehab places he’s entered the past few years.
The thing is: we have time to say goodbye. Time to breathe together. We’d been geographically and emotionally separated earlier decades but this past one, over breakfast at Cracker Barrel, for example, we learned just to accept who we are.
So now it’s time to say goodbye. It’s time to pause and ………………… B-R-E-A-T-H-E. It’s time to get back to my writing projects and breathe. Choose one to focus on. For no one ever knows how much time she has left. I now knowingly live with my health karma of family heart disease.
My heart rate borders on the fast side. Quick—I want to publish that collaboration with my Indian friend. Quick—I must get back to poetry. Breathe. Keep breathing. I can’t let my ideas die in my little writing room.

My heart & my writing

I wanted to explain where I’ve been. On February 6th I got referred to a cardiologist after enduring three chest pains. That was a Friday. I was given nitroglycerin and admonitions to “be a couch potato” over the weekend. For I had testing to be done Monday morning to find out What The Hell was Going On already!

What was going on was that the doctors proclaimed I would have too many stents “fighting each other” so I needed triple bypass surgery. What?!?!??!  Me, the (mostly) vegetarian who (mostly) exercised? Me, one of the healthier ones in my group of friends and family? Denial is strong, folks, and, fortunately, I didn’t have too much time to worry:  there was a surgical opening the next afternoon there at The Christ Hospital.

Obviously I lived. What a journey! FYI, I’ve posted a few stories on my other blog – The Goddess Babe. This blog was begun and is meant more for writing and teaching and talking about both.

But I discovered the heart trumps it all.

Yes, every evening as I lie down to sleep and each morning as I awake, it is my heart that I remember and thank. I had February and March to ask for help from my writing sisters. They made it possible for me to come home from the hospital. I spent the first month on the living room couch. Not the most comfortable but I made sure I faced the south–sliding glass doors looking out at an expanse of trees, an icy creek, and sometimes a deer or three.

Yes, I have learned gratitude in deeper measures than ever before.

I am writing about my Heart Adventure (The Angina Monologues perhaps). Writing about ‘it’ helps me process. It all happened quickly and it was a profound contemplation on life and death. How many years do I have left and what are my priorities?

So, you see, I’ve been busy–thinking, feeling, writing, and feeling grateful. I recommend them all.

Catch you again soon!


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how many writing sites can one woman subscribe to?

I knew something was going on when I found myself irritated this morning glancing at my emails.

Many of them were from various writers and bloggers, literary agents and the like. Grrrr. Then I knew what it was:  all these well-meaning talented writers were entering my psyche because I had invited them. All of them had something to teach me, tips, inspiration, and sometimes something to sell, too. All of them were reminders that, no matter how well-meaning I was to have them as my email consultants, I WAS NOT WRITING.

Yes, I realize I put that in all caps.

A simple realization yet a wake-up call. Time to write (this simple inquiry is just a warm-up).

Posted in blogs, creative writing, writing. Tags: , , . Comments Off on how many writing sites can one woman subscribe to?

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