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Judy Atchinson's A Stubborn Woman
by Judy Atchinson

A Stubborn Woman

A Daily Gazette community blog
QUEST leader's wanderings and musings

Summer happenings; helping malnourished cat

"If you have two loaves of bread, sell one and buy a hyacinth."

-- Persian Proverb

We often in the middle of a stressful busy life forget about beauty. And the scent of a hyacinth is only rivaled by the extraordinary shade of its hue. Beauty may be in the eyes of the beholder, but a hyacinth is its own benchmark. Its only fault is the brevity of its blooming but its constancy of breaking forth every year is its excuse. And now the wild roses are in their prime. Mine are deep red with a tiny hint of pink. My trellis is alive with vibrant glory. My roses which I dug up from a train track gully and which gave me the most amazing and long-lived case of posion ivy in "The Guiness Book of World Records."

This is just to remind both of us that life is simply to short. Do stop and smell the roses.

I recently visited (on invitation) in Albany a large neighborhood gathering hosted by S.U.N.Y. Albany at the Universal Unitatarian Church on Washington Ave. In spite of the nasty thunderstorms about 200 people showed up. We are a crowded, genial group in a large un-airconditioned building. No suits! Men came in shorts and sandals; there was one man in a suit and tie, but it was an extra wide rainbow thing. WOW, love to see it here. There were a few women in long dresses, and fancy hair. One lady had the most outrageous wig. But she cheerily announced to all that, "Yes" she knew, in fact everyone would know, "It's a wig."

All wore sensible shoes, no wobbly high heel on shoes that I could see. S.U.N.Y.'s new president was there and yes he wore a tie but he knew everyone went around shaking hands and high fiving and smiling. And the black woman accosted him like he was their relative and in bad standing, "Did you read my letter yet?" "Why haven't you returned my phone call?" "When can we have a meeting?"

The general feeling was, "I've got my eye on you, you'd better live up to our standards." And he stood there and shuffled his feet and said, "Yes ma'am." "No ma'am." "I will get to it." I speak of the black women cause I was sitting on a bank of couches surrounded by them.

But I did note that the Albany cops were well represented by the chief of police and 3 or 4 underlings. And they were there in the spirit of the occasion, letting everyone know that this was their city too, and they were proud to represent. And of course I watched and learned and am now passing it on!

"A diplomat must always think twice before he says nothing."

-- Irish Proverb

Now at this little shindig I saw a man carrying a knapsack who looked quite familiar, I could place the face (sort of) but not the name. But it was so crowded I couldn't get within shouting distance. Finally I stalked him up to the information table, "Are you a photographer?' I asked, he whirled around saying, "Yes", then yelled, "Judy" and picked me right up off the floor. And yes it was Clifford Oliver, photographer extraordinare. When I first met him he was the photographer for the governor's office, official pic-snapper for the entire state of New York.

As one of the major artists of New York -- he had been appproached (along with four other representatives of New York culture) to present a body of work that had its roots in this state. These would be presented at the Schenectady Museum and shown for a period of several months.

Well, he chose QUEST. As he told everyone at the S.U.N.Y. program, "Judy introduced me to her kids." And that I did. We traveled the streets of the Hill together and he put his stamp on the life and times of Hamilton Hill and it's environs. These photos were enlarged and mounted, and an accompanying video was made where he talked about the strength and resilience of these children. The whole piece (video and photos) was set up in a small theater in the museum and ran continuously for serveral months. He tells me that the museum bought two photos for their permanent collection. It turns out that the museum still owns the museum. G.E. is essentially responsible for MiSCI and leases the space, but the art and photos are still being displayed, which really makes both of us quite happy. He has many friends, and a lot of savvy, not to mention an absolutely compelling smile. He is willing to give me the push I need and open some new avenues for me, and I am ready folks. I am ready.

My summer stint at Saratoga has started. I have really missed playing the piano, and this year is very different -- Santa Fe Ballet, New York City Ballet and the National Ballet of Canada. I was privileged to play for the ballet master of the Canadian company last week. A different style of movement and a quiet, thoughtful class with touches of absolutely hilarious humor and wit.

But my favorite is Daniel Ulbricht. A compelling performer, and a truly dedicated teacher. Daniel has been guest artist several times in the past year at the Bolshoi in Moscow. And whenever he performs it is a sold-out house, and cheers and standing ovations. The audience has carried Daniel through the streets on their shoulders singing and cheering. Russia takes her dancers seriously. As our children revere rap stars and basketball players, theirs worship dancers and poets and musicians.

And here's a heavy point, the classes that Daniel teaches to kids are mob scenes but the behavior is perfect plus. Very few of these children will make it into a major company but all will come away with the gift of dedication, hard work and good character. They came from all over to study in Saratoga in the summer -- boys, girls, children of color from Harlem and the Bronx. Ages 11 to 18 years of age. And these children are spectacular in many ways.

And the competition! Whoa baby, who can jump the highest? Who can do the most revolutions, cover the most ground? They grit their teeth, the sweat is pouring down their faces and bodies. And they take classes from 5 to 7 hours a day. No tattoos, no sagging pants, no multiple piercings, these are the children our kids will be competing with in the outside world. What a complete shock to parents and kids. "Ballet is about learning how to behave," as Lincoln Kirstein said. And if you never heard of Lincoln Kinstein I won't embarrass you, just tell you to Google. Get some sophisticated knowledge in your lives and share it.

I went to a fundraiser on Friday and renewed old ties with Karen Johnson. We hugged tightly when we left and discussed the difficulties of getting the aging body moving in the morning. "You are doing God's work," Karen said. And what is bizarre is that she was the second person to say that to me in a week. I am not quite sure what God's work is but I know my job is demanding and exhausting. "I hope he or she is paying attention,." I replied. Cause I am working hard and can use a raise or at least a pat on the back. I am one tired lady. Please, I ask you to keep me in your thoughts, and breathe a small prayer for me if you could. I am not a religious person but I do believe in the power of human thought and love. So send a little to this tired woman.

Malnourished cat

Found a cat on Saturday. Or rather I should say what was left of a cat, she was staggering down the street as if she had too many. Chased her with a piece of salami. Finally caught her but we could not catch a vet. Pet Smart was open on Sunday. So Sunday morn that is where we went. It seems there was a shortage of vets on Saturday. So places closed early and I am not fond of the emergency vets.

Bright and early Sunday morning we hit the floor running with one very flea encrusted and fecal- decorated animal. She had diarrhea, she was puking, you could see the fleas congregating on her face. She was only semiconscious. We got a high-power formula for cats ($8 for a small can) and eye drop fed her every two hours all night.

Well she weighed in at 3 lbs. This is a full grown cat, not a kitten. First a test for feline leukemia-negative, phew-then $300 worth of injections, blood work etc. This was only the beginning.

Vet says bring her back in 2 weeks and we would decide whether to continue. He estimated she was between 5 and 7 years old. But it was so hard to tell, she was so skinny. We decided to call her BOY, because in another language that means girl. Though we kept saying "he" and "him" all weekend.

She purrs. Really her little motor is always revved. Cause for celebration was the first time she used the kitty litter, the first time she drank on her own, the first time we did not have to hand feed her. And this morning she met me at her castle door (the bathroom) carrying on something fierce. And she scoffed down that cat food just the way a hungry animal should. More data coming next week.

"Those who succeed do not pull themselves up by their boot straps. They had help from a teacher, a friend, a mentor, a relative, a pastor who helped them put on the boots!"

-- Thurgood Marshall

In the year 2012 more than 250,000 people visited the museums of this nation, more than all the games and sporting events combined.


-- N.P.R.

"Wonderful -- the mood of this moment -- distant, vast, known to me only!"

-- Ryokan

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