Archive Page 2

07
Jan
09

The first time I told this story

The Last Time Ever, originally uploaded by neocles.

this is what I said:

“We were getting into our bunks when this strange light seemed to come down from the sky, and there was this rumbling noise and the camper swayed a little. It got really loud, then suddenly–very quiet. And we felt this pressure, and then I blacked out. When I woke up, I was alone.”

05
Jan
09

Leaving Home For Good – Family Snapshot

The Grocery Cart #2

The Grocery Cart #2, originally uploaded by neocles.

My mother, Efrosini Serafimidis, will be 90 years old this month. For the last five years she has been living down the street from us in a little one bedroom apartment. We moved her up here to Albany from Fresno and the home in which she had lived for over 30 years. I was resistant to moving her at the time, but my cousins insisted it was necessary. It is not easy for a person in their 80’s to switch gears like that. She still complains bitterly everyday about this place, and I think she still is a little resentful towards me on that count. But she did okay for two or three years.

The last couple years have been increasingly challenging. She has had a hip replacement and big surgery on a broken elbow. Also, she has been pretty lonely during the days when we are at work, and the lack of interaction and stimulation has taken a toll on her.

The next move is now necessary. This month, Effie will be going to a board and care facility somewhere nearby. It is going to be hard to do, and the transition is going to be a struggle, I’m sure. But her hips are not holding her up very well, and she is suffering from some dementia. She has wandered off a couple times, but her incredible luck with coming across non-Greek-speaking people who are charmed by her old-country, head-scarved, four-foot-ten-inch figure has held up. Each time we got her back none the worse for the wear.

Of course, Sarah and I both work full time, and have a five-year-old to attend to. And living in the Bay Area has its own challenges. So, I would not say I have been an overly conscientious caregiver, but nonetheless, I see her and give her her meds almost every day, try to keep her reasonably safe and fed, bring her back and forth to my home, clean her apartment, pay her bills, take care of her legal and financial matters, manage the renting of the family home in Fresno, and so on.

Chief among the challenges of moving her to a care facility is going to be the dissolving of her apartment home and figuring out what to do with all the things in it. We got rid of a lot of stuff when we moved her to Albany. But a lot of stuff is still packed away in her apartment. I am very nostalgic about these things and have a tough time just trashing them even though they are otherwise pretty worthless.

In response to all this I am planning a photo series. Right now the idea is simple snapshot-like photos of, basically, every object in her apartment. Where possible, descriptions will accompany the photos. Eventually, the series will include photos of each and every object I still have from my parents. I may be an old man myself by the time I finish.

04
Jan
09

Purple Nova at the French School

    

Purple Nova at the French School, originally uploaded by neocles.

I noticed the purple Nova while biking to work one morning. The intense color caught my eye. I took a couple shots, and I noticed right away on the camera that the color was not as bright and not as purple in the image. This was true on the computer as well, and I sort of forgot about it for a while. I didn’t think it would amount to much.

A couple weeks later, I started fooling around with the post-processing work on it, and got something I rather liked. I eventually uploaded something to flickr, and it suddenly turned out to be one of the more interesting and popular things I’d produced in awhile. (Bear in mind that I measure these metrics in small fractions of what most flickr pop stars do, so my data set is pretty limited. Nonetheless it seems meaningful to me!) I guess the moral of the story is that you can never tell what is going to resonate with people. At least I can’t.

31
Dec
08

Getting old is a bitch

They say, “Life’s a bitch and then you die.” That’s not true.

Actually, life’s a bitch, then you get where you can’t see or hear very well, then you get wrinkly, then you get batty, then you can’t walk very well and have hip ad knee replacements, then you take lots of drugs every day, then you get slower and more batty, then you can only walk with a walker, then you get more batty and start wearing diapers again, then you move to a depressing place with other people in the same sorry state and slug away a couple years, then you are broke, then your kids are broke, then you fall and break your hip, then you spend two weeks in the hospital and/or nursing facility, and then you die. But right before all that starts, you go through all it with your parents.

Fortunately, there’s cocktails, and, in particular, new and wonderful bourbons with which to make them. That’s what the NYTimes says, although they didn’t mention flora.

07
Dec
08

Russian Christmas Dinner

Russian Christmas Dinner
at Chez Serafimidis
Rocky Hill, Executive Chef 

Our fun, Russian-themed menu for Christmas dinner this year.

First Courses
Chicken Pate,  Neo
Dolmas,  Neo
Smoked Salmon,  Neo and Rocky
Pickled Herring,  Rocky
Black Bread, Rocky

Soup Course
Christmas Borscht, recipe ideas, 1, 2, 3, 4, Ray and Marge

Main Course
Mushroom Pie, recipe ideaRay and Marge
Red Beans with Herb Dressing, recipe idea, Carrie
Egg Noodle and Cottage Cheese Casserole, recipe idea, Kate
Goose stuffed with Apples, recipe ideas, 1, 2, Neo

Desserts
Apple Charlotte, Rocky
Sour Cream Cake, Rocky

28
Nov
08

Flip-book Life

We recently took a trip to Seattle for our dear friend Jen Dixon’s birthday. Jen’s friends from all over the country came for this one, and so we saw a lot of people. We had a wonderful time, and it was actually rejuvenating. It just felt like we reconnected with our friends there in a much more significant way this time. I suppose that because it was a tough year marked by personal loss, and because we saw people we had not seen in years, and because we are all older, there was this pervasive sense that being with people you care for is what matters in life. It sounds corny, but I don’t know how else to describe it.

One of the really nice things we had a chance to do was take a drive up Aurora Ave to see Jen’s public art work installed on the Interurban Trail. I really loved the work. It has a playfulness and a sense of place. Yet the combination of the simple, colorful, unfolding content on a form usually reserved for the concise delivery of important information for travelers creates a semiotic mystery. “What does that sign mean? What is it telling me about what’s ahead?” I love that in a work.

19
Nov
08

Our moment, our time

I am amazed. Politics has been subject matter for street art for as long as they have both been around, I am sure. But in my experience, the political message of this kind of work is almost always critical of the dominant political party, and when it comes to elected officials, nearly always scathing in its portrayals and parodies. I’ve seen plenty of this for all the presidents I have lived through going back to Nixon. Admittedly most of the criticism has been directed at Republicans. No one, however, was sneaking around putting up triumphal representations of Slick Willy or Jimmy, as far as I remember.

I just don’t remember street artists ever busting out to celebrate the election of an American president like I’m seeing happen for Obama. It is almost disorienting to see newstands and telephone poles plastered with stylized images of Barack bearing slogans of support. I think it is another indication of what an enormous cultural and political earthquake this election has turned out to be.

It’s almost as if one needs to be continually reminded of this fact because it is so hard to really grasp. And the artists are doing it. They are reminding me to be amazed.




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