Category Archives: Memoir

Cross your fingers: health news

Today’s healthcare news:

I’ll start with Juliet Eilperin’s coverage of the healthcare bill in the Washington Post, “From hospitals, doctors, and patients, a last gasp of opposition to the Senate health-care bill,” A Daily Princetonian alumna, the Post’s senior national affairs correspondent, she tells of how hospitals have mounted unusual lobbying efforts. ‘While McConnell had been pressing for a vote on the measure before the end of June, the delay gave opponents more time to marshal their arguments and make their case to lawmakers. This final lobbying push represents opponents’ best chance of derailing McConnell’s final drive to passage, which continues to look uncertain.’

Today the CEO of Incyte, Herve Hoppenot, speaks at the Princeton Regional chamber lunch. Look for me in a striped jacket. At age six I ‘worked’ in my parents’ cancer research lab and 70 years later I have a vested interest in new cancer cures.

 

Leni Morante: Turning the Page

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Leni Morante at work

Looking back can be so much fun, especially when your past can encourage someone else’s future. Léni Paquet-Morante,  an artist who has kept touch with me over several decades, called with her latest news. I took vicarious joy in what she is doing now.

Morante had been busy with raising three children, volunteering in their schools, rehabbing an historic house, and supporting the successful career of her sculptor husband, G. Frederick Morante. In 1984 they met at the Johnson Atelier,  where she did bronze, copper, and clay sculpture. I wrote about her husband’s work for U.S. 1 Newspaper in the late ’80s. His Daedulus remains one of my favorite pieces, and his ‘Relative’  is one of the large bronzes that J. Seward Johnson commissioned for Grounds for Sculpture.

Thirty years later (can it really be that long ago?) I am retired, Fred is on the staff at the Digital Atelier, and Leni has turned the page in her career. With her children grown, she carved out a space next to the kitchen for her studio and declared independence from cooking dinner.

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Leni Morante: June 11, 2017 In 2017, acrylic on linen, Untitled: Rosemont – 30 x 30

Leni has a solo show opening Wednesday, July 5, at Princeton University’s 113 Dickinson Hall, called “Atmosphere, Place an Time,” described as “paintings that represent familiar local landscapes but which also hint at something more complex.” Best of all, she has an artist residency award at the Lacawac Field Sanctuary in Lake Ariel, PA, and will have two weeks of focused studio and plein-air work next October.

I smiled and smiled when Leni spoke of being recognized with a two-week residency because in 1980 — at almost exactly the same point in my career, I had had a similar opportunity. I landed an NEA Fellowship to a dance critics workshop at the American Dance Festival at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Along with a dozen journalist from around the country, I took movement classes, saw concerts, wrote reviews, and was totally immersed in dance.

It was triply sweet.

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Barbara Figge at ADF 1960
  • I could leave family cares behind for three weeks.
  • It was my second visit to ADF: 20 years before I had gone to ADF when it was at Connecticut College. That summer persuaded me not to a pursue a dance career. Now, three children later, struggling to make my mark as a journalist, I could go back to ADF as a working dance critic.
  • I returned to my ‘stomping ground.” ADF had moved to my alma mater, Duke University.
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American Dance Festival 1980, Duke University. Student learning how to do a “Slow Walk” with choreograher Kei Takei

So, yes, I can truly rejoice with Leni Morante. She is using every available minute to paint. Right now she has a day job, so she paints on weekends, but in October — I smile and encourage her painting sabbatical. Meanwhile, with vicarious joy, I will admire her work.

 “Atmosphere, Place, and Time,” paintings by Léni Paquet-Morante, will be on view starting Wednesday, July 5, at 113 Dickinson Hall. This gallery, curated by Dana Lichtstrahl, is sponsored by Princeton University’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Studies and is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A “meet the artist” reception is Friday, July 14, noon to 2 p.m. Her home-based studio is in Hamilton, NJ. Her portfolio since 1984 includes painting, bronze,copper, and clay sculpture, some of which is represented in NJ corporate collections, private collections locally and internationally, and as public art. A full CV and other works can be seen on her website http://www.lenimorante.com. Requests to meet the artist and/or for additional image files can be made through lenimorante@yahoo.com or cell 609-610- 3631.

Happy birthday, boss!

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Happy birthday to Richard K. Rein, who turned the Big Seven Oh yesterday and ruminated on the milestone in his column today, here. 

Seventy’s good, from my point of view. Seven years ago I ruminated on the same number,  here.  The wisdom that still works today is from Frederick Buechner: “The place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

Many happy returns, Rich, of the non-retail kind.

 

Listening to the Liturgical Year

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Hyosang Park directs the combined choirs and a chamber ensemble at PrincetonUMC

In a NYT article, Choral Music is Slow Food for the Soul, composer Nico Muhly has wise observations about how “the choral tradition operated in a series of interlocking cycles based on the liturgical year, with the music and the musicians playing a role in a larger drama.” Rather than expecting applause, church choir singing is  “meant for worship…to be heard in a state of quiet meditation.. to guide the mind out of the building into unseen heights and depths.”

Muhly’s essay is meant to be a paean to Andrew Gant’s book O Sing Unto the Lord: A History of English Church MusicFor me, it’s an affirmation of how — week after week, sitting in a church pew, listening to the Princeton United Methodist Church’s Chancel Choir — opens up my spiritual horizons. I am also inspired by the special music offered during Holy Week.  This year Hyosang Park directs Anton Bruckner’s Requiem on Good Friday, April 14, at 7:30 p.m.,

As Muhly points out, live concerts of liturgical music follow the calendar.  He finds himself “looking forward to a work’s annual visits as I would the arrival of a long-distant friend.”

Other notable choral concerts of the season — the Brahms Requiem by the Voices chorale on April 8, the Princeton Theological Seminary Choir on April 22, the Bulgarian State Women’s Choir on April 17.

Choristers — and attentive listeners — will agree with Muhly, that the liturgical tradition of choral music brings  “sharp pangs of nostalgia, followed by a sense of gratitude that this tradition has been such an important part of my musical world.”

FYI: At Princeton United Methodist Church, the Chancel Choir, directed by Hyosang Park, sings at the 11 a.m. worship service. Tom Shelton directs the Youth Choir (at 9:30 a.m. on first Sundays) and the Children’s Choir (at 9:30 a.m. on second Sundays). The Handbell Choir, directed by Park, plays at both services on third Sundays, and a contemporary ensemble plays at both times on fourth Sundays. Everyone’s welcome to — just listen. 

Why do the salamanders cross the road?

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I can’t say that I like salamanders but I have an affection for them. My summer job at age 13 was feeding strips of beef liver to their cousins, Mexican axolotls, in the Figge lab.

This is the season when the salamanders cross the Beekman Road in East Brunswick.  (No chicken jokes, please) And they need protection. Locals have organized to keep them being run over in the middle of the night, as described in this Packet story by Vashti Harris.

I went once, armed with a flashlight, and I did see one spotted salamander cross the road. It was exciting. What I mostly remember is the choral din of the spring peepers.

When to go? When the salamanders decide it’s time, on a warm night.spotted Here’s how to plan your trip.  Take the family but give each child a flashlight so they DON’T step on one.

Here’s what they look like — nothing like their Mexican cousins, which reach adulthood without undergoing metamorphosis. They never develop lungs, never walk on land — they keep their gills.

Axolotl photo from Wikipedia. Spotted Salamander photo from Friends of the East Burnswick Environmental Commission.

 

 

Jay Regan: the story behind the story

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Jay Regan

A few nuggets from Richard K. Rein’s fascinating story on Jay Regan, in the new issue of the Princeton Echo:

“A young man on Wall Street became interested in the work of a mathematician who had developed  a system for beating blackjack and was using that system to pick stocks that would outperform the market average. . . . Princeton Newport Partners became the first quantitative hedge fund.”

“Google his name (James S. ‘Jay’ Regan) and the first two words that might come up are ‘racketeering charges.’

At the office on the corner of Witherspoon and Spring Street, “armed marshalls presented a search warrant to the startled receptionist. Regan first thought it was some college buddies playing a joke.”

“Even in the darkest days Regan maintained his sense of humor, even if it had a certain gallows cast to it.”

“the sentence was later overturned…. prosecutorial over-reach. The prosecutor, incidentally, was Rudolph Giuliani, even then political ambitious.”

“For all that he and his family went through, Regan remains a bright and cheerful soul, and as enthusiastic about his work as he must have been when he first got involved on Wall Street.”

My personal note to parents of liberal arts majors: Regan was a philosophy major.  

The Echo comes to the mailboxes of Princeton residents once a month and is available in newsboxes throughout town. On the cover: a story on card shark/mathematician Bradley Snider.

Photo of Jay Regan by Suzette Lucas. 

 

 

 

Richard K. Rein: Princeton newspapers

drive-papers-2-534x462Here’s Rein’s indepth account, admittedly from his point of view, of the history of newspapers in Princeton, including his own. It’s published in his monthly paper for Princeton, the Echo, and on the website of Mercerspace. Confused? Read the post.

I tagged it “Memoir” because I lived through it too.

My response to the refugee order

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This T shirt dates from 2014, when the Princeton YWCA held a town-wide outdoor demonstration for Stand Against Racism Day.

How many refugees have been arrested for plotting terrorism? According to this source, THREE.

“Two were not planning an attack on the United States and the plans of the third were barely credible.”

That’s what you reply when you hear someone say “POTUS is trying to protect us.”

What Princeton connection can justify a political rant on this blog?  Today, in protest, I am wearing my T shirt purchased in 2014 for the Princeton YWCA’s Stand Against Racism demonstration. The Princeton YWCA STARTED this national trend. They hosted successful, well-supported demonstrations in 2013, and 2012, 2011 and 2010.

In recent years the YWCA has sometimes refocused its Stand Against Racism commitments, favoring breakfasts for those-in-the-know with discussions facilitated by members of Not in Our Town Princeton.  Last year it co-sponsored a demonstration.

Yes,  breakfast meetings may help individuals delve more deeply into their own feelings and this can help conquer racism. But I suggest that this is the year for the Princeton YWCA to sponsor a more visible demonstration. Here are the first words on its website:

At the YWCA Princeton, we know we must remain bold and iconic in our mission! We continue to eliminate racism…

There will be people who voted for Trump who belong to the Princeton YWCA,  but surely “standing against racism” can be a bipartisan effort.

 

 

Not drinking the CrossFit Kool-Aid

In her inimitable wry style, Sara Hastings ‘reveals all’  about CrossFit, the rambunctious upstart of the Princeton fitness scene, in the January edition of Princeton Echo. 

I concur with the founder of Cross Fit who characterized the average gym as “predicated on a low to minimum wage, skill-less staff supervising hapless members. “ He concluded that “clients enjoyed a better workout environment, and he made more money, by training them in groups small enough that each athlete could get plenty of individual attention — rather than one-on-one. The shared suffering and shared satisfaction of completing a workout together transcends individual levels of fitness and forms the basis of the so-called CrossFit community.”

But Hastings failed to convince me that I — old enough to be her grandmother, with arthritic knees, a gimpy shoulder, and a back-that-sometimes talks-to-me — should join the CrossFit cult.

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Anthony Rabara trains a client in the Joseph Pilates method. (I am not that client.)

I’ll stick to  Pilates at the Anthony Rabara studio where  I’ve been lucky enough to take lessons for more than two decades. Despite arthritis I’m sure not to get injured. When I walk into the studio I can say “my knee is tender today” or “my shoulder is out today” and the trainers adapt the equipment and the workout. Though I athletes and dancers train here, some clients are even more decrepit than I.

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Anthony Rabara with Moshe Budmor

Ninety-two-year-old Moshe Budmor, for instance, worked out at the studio until just before he died.

I also value my “take it slow and easy” anti-aging yoga class taught by the amazing  Germaine Tartacoff . at Forrestal Village Fitness.  (Tartacoff has her own studio and also teaches a “rank beginner” class at Princeton Adult School. Anyone leary of joining a class with folks who already know the difference between Downward Dog and Tree — this is the class for you.)

In her enticement, Hastings touts the group experience. Plenty of people who have observed Crossfitters with a mix of what’s-the-point and never-in-a-million-years have tried it out and realized that not only does it work, it’s also pretty fun.

But at my age I cast a jaundiced eye at any training that has even a whiff of competitiveness. If I try to keep up I’m likely to injure myself. But — never say never. Maybe when I turn 80.

PS: Hastings suggests examples of CrossFitters who are more my speed — here and here

Morning star, o cheering sight

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a Moravian star

Three Moravian hymns touch my heart. Many know we used to belong to Redeemer Moravian Church in Philadelphia. They are:

Jesus Makes My Heart Rejoice — a simple  quatrain that I my granddaughter, Jillian Fox, sing at our 50th anniversary service.

Hosanna! — a responsive hymn for Palm Sunday which would be challenging for most congregations except that Moravians are born knowing how to sing four part harmony.

Morning Star — traditionally sung at the Christmas Eve love feast by one child, responsively with the congregation.

Morning star, o cheering sight, ere thou camst how dark earth’s light. Jesus mine, in me shine, fill my heart with light divine…

It was a memorable Christmas Eve when our nine year old daughter was the soloist as this small church celebrated a Love Feast. After this hymn sung in darkness, ushers bring in trays of lighted beeswacandlelitx candles as the congregation sings Break Forth o Beauteous Heavenly Light.

So you can imagine my delight when I learned that the Chancel Choir at my church (Princeton United Methodist) will sing Morning Star n an arrangement by Helen Kemp at a Christmas concert on Sunday, December 18 at 5 p.m.. They previewed it in morning worship the week before.

Jesus mine, in me shine, fill my heart with light divine…