Panel 1 of stained glass triptych with ocean theme

In for the Swim

A lot has been learned about the dolphin brain and behavior since Dudley Lynch and Paul L. Kordis wrote Strategy of the Dolphin: Scoring A Win in a Chaotic World. A friend recommended the book over twenty years ago. It taught me a lot then and its lessons for human functioning in an organization are still valid regardless of any advances in biology.

At the time I first read the book, I was working in shark-infested waters. I’m not a shark by nature but I didn’t want to be a carp or hang around with any bait-fish. So I had to learn the strategy of the dolphin. “(T)he dolphin (human variety) changes the nature, the rules, perhaps even the playing surface and the players themselves. Dolphins enjoy, exploit, explore, and experience to the fullest of their faculties the ability of the integrated, highly social (internally,) fully involved human brain . . . The result is often an ocean of ideas. A maelstrom of possibilities. An awakening of potential. A suddenly visible way out of the shark pool . . .” (p. 16). I discovered the pool was bigger than I’d thought, and before too long I swam on to a better job.

Panel 1 of stained glass triptych with ocean theme
“In For the Swim” left panel
After a decade I recognized a few sharks in that pool and read the book again. At the time I was releasing creative potential outside of the job through stained glass window design. It occurred to me that I could create a work of art that encoded my practice of the strategy of the dolphin in the workplace. Besides helping me work through some of my issues, designing “In for the Swim” engaged a playful sense of humor because of its hidden meaning. Nobody but Jay and me would know that I was freeing my own inner dolphin, nor whom the carp and the shark represented.

I started working on the design for “In for the Swim” with a target finish date that would allow us to feature it in a big April show. The design was still an idea when we went to S.A. Bendheim in New Jersey to buy all the glass we needed for months of work. When I saw Youghiogheny’s rippled stippled “Water Light” glass, I knew I would use it. However I didn’t anticipate how my design concept would change and the Youghiogheny glass would become the primary glass in the triptych. The beautiful glass is difficult to cut and there was barely enough for the three 33″ x 33″ panels. If even one piece broke the wrong way, there was not enough time to return to Bendheim’s for more glass and complete the project before the Philadelphia Furniture and Furnishings Show. Jay was equal to the task and cut every piece perfectly despite the stress.

Panel 2 of stained glass triptych
“In For the Swim” center panel

Panel 3 of stained glass triptych with ocean theme
Right panel of “In For the Swim”
The blue, green, and pink-highlighted Youghiogheny glass creates a backdrop for three types of seafaring creatures executed in three types of clear glass. Three playful dolphins are made of clear mouth-blown glass with large bubbles; a shark is in reeded glass, and carp are made of another textured clear glass.

Every time we’ve exhibited the triptych it has evoked accolades. In 2003 it won a First Place in the Scranton Summer Solstice exhibit.

Stained glass triptych with ocean theme
In for the Swim

Red, purple & plum on blue pasta bowl with apples

Apple season

speckled pasta bowl with yellow and red apples
mid-season apples in fused glass bowl
We live in an area with so many old apple trees that we think it must have been an orchard at one time. No apple trees are in our yard but a neighbor half a mile down the road lets us take all we want. Most years the fruit is gnarled and wormy but this is one of the good years. This afternoon Jay and I picked about 25 pounds of crisp apples from two different trees, one with speckled yellow fruit, the other just ripening to red.

In late August and in September during our Sunday walks we picked up apples from the ground: Whitney crabs, I think the small ones were, and large, soft, apples we can’t identify. We must have eaten a bushel of the big apples, enjoying them raw, sauteed as a supper side dish, cooked into chunky and pureed applesauce, and baked into desserts.

AppleCake_PB62_sq300px72ppiA raw apple coffeecake handed on by my mom or aunt from their neighbor, Jean Noonan, is sweet enough for dessert. Whenever I bake it I think of all three women, now deceased. I add twenty-five per cent more apples than the original recipe calls for and add nuts to the brown sugar and cinnamon topping. A couple weeks ago I used black walnuts, which made the cake extra delicious.

AppleCrisp_SCB4_sq300px72ppiAn easy way to use lots of apples is in apple crisp. Since I tend to bake desserts only on Saturday, I fill a 9″x13″ pan so it lasts well into the week. Our secret to keeping the topping crisp for several days is to only loosely cover the baking dish before refrigerating it.

Red, purple & plum on blue pasta bowl with apples
Apples in fused glass bowl
Early one evening as the sun sank behind trees, it cast both light and shadows on a bowl of apples. The lowering sun reminds me that autumn’s first frost will soon end the growing season. Jay and I hope we get to pick some of the latest bearing apples before any hard frost so that we can savor autumn’s sweetness for another month or so.

Alzheimer's Association walk logo

One step at a time

8 team members
Striders of the Purple Sage 2012
Next Saturday is the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Walk to End Alzheimer’s. This is the fourth year I’ve led a team on the Walk. The Striders of the Purple Sage are a hardy bunch who have a good time when we Walk together.
two 2012 Walk to End Alzheimer's team members
two Striders with purple sage
Our daughter, son-in-law and grand-daughter will walk simultaneously in Orlando FL, connecting electronically during the morning.

4 generations of sturdy females
Mom, daughter, grand-daughter, and great-grand-daughter
We walk in memory of my mother, Rita Otting Frost, who died with Alzheimer’s Disease four years ago. Jay and I walk to honor our friend Claire and others living with Alzheimer’s Disease. Also we walk to raise awareness about the disease’s effects on society and to raise funds for the Alzheimer Association. An association support group and their educational services were of great help to my father during my mother’s illness. That service affected even me living 1000 miles away.

Fused glass pasta bowl PB 33
Red, amber, and olive pasta bowl
Here in Pennsylvania Jay and I have also from time to time contributed glass to the Northeastern Region Alzheimer’s Association spring fundraiser. “An Affair to Remember” is true to it’s name, a lovely evening with silent art auction, basket raffle, and speaker accompanied by hors-d’oeuvres. In 2011 two fused glass dishes were sold to the highest bidder. The red, amber, and olive pasta bowl had been made entirely of frit on a clear base. The short oval dish had purple and red cut pieces against an amber background.
SO23 fused glass oval dish
Purple & red chips on pebbly amber

After having reached this year’s Walk fund-raising goal during the summer, I raised it and still have $30 to reach the higher goal. Jay has $10 to get to his goal. You can contribute to a great cause at his Walk web page or at mine or to anyone on the team, which is about $300 short.

The Walk is part effort and part joy. Finding a cure and ways to prevent Alzheimer’s requires both concerted effort and creativity, much like our glass work. With creative efforts we can end Alzheimer’s one step at a time.