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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Feedin' Da Ducks?

City Park Lagoon on Easter Sunday
I guess I should come here more often to get inspired and perspired at the lagoons of City Park. Certain parts of the park have lagoons that are close to the picnic grounds and they are full of debris from the picnickers. But you can find some nice areas away from the "littering crowd" that are quite idyllic.

We came here with my mom, after we had Easter brunch at a place we didn't have reservations for because the restaurant we wanted to go to said they didn't take reservations, but they actually did, but they had no tables left to reserve and didn't want to tell us that the day before over the phone because that was their way of saying we don't want you unless someone with reservations doesn't show up. ( I realize that that's a run on sentence, but did it anyway for fun! )

Therese and I thought it would be something different mom could do since she mentioned it only about a thousand times before, but she bumped her knee on the back of the seat of the car, which as most people know, is pretty padded and refused to come out to feed the ducks. So, Tee and I did!

Pretty lame duck, me thinks!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Basketmaker at the Louisiana Folk Art Tent...

This tent had a myriad of Louisiana artisans from accordian builders and duck decoy whittlers to pottery and basket weavers. One woman actually makes baskets out of pine needles from the native long leaf pine trees. Incredible stuff!

And I thought all that tree makes is a mess!

Copyright/Ben Bensen III/ 2011

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I Haven't Seen Mom So Engaged...

Into the District 5AAA State Championship... RIVETED!
Still driving people around town, but I am managing to still take care of business, ha! I was so impressed with my mom's intensity level at her grandson's baseball game for state championship, I had to try to sketch it out from memory at the local coffee shop while Therese is at school finalizing grades. Mom was actually leaning forward closer to the railing than I have her here in this drawing, but she was so into the game, rocking back and forth, working her bubble gum and reacting to each pivotal play in the final innings.

Like all the Bensens, she grew up in a baseball environment.

At the time, I really didn't have an answer as to why mom was so into it. I suspect it was deeper than the pageantry, spirit and color of a locally televised championship ball game being played in the new stadium at Tulane University on a breezy, cool, spring evening. Spending much of her time at home, bored and unable to get around like she'd like, my brother would escort her, when she felt up to it, to many of the games Tony Jr. played, in this, his senior year. Like so many of the elderly, with many of her friends deceased or incapacitated especially since hurricane Katrina, which devastated much of her neighborhood, mom's attitude and mental capacity has worsened.

Of all of the ball players in our family, my middle brother was the most talented. The ectomorph of the family, Tony, who we all called Hilton as a kid, could play just about any sport and excel at it. No one knows why, but he somehow lost most of his hearing at a real early age and suffered greatly at the hands of many, especially doctors, psychologists and therapists in the sixties who thought he was mentally handicapped. He was actually taken away from the family when he was ten years old and admitted to a mental institution for about two months for tests and who knows what else. It was traumatic for everyone. It was most especially horrid for Hilton because he didn't understand what he did wrong to be treated so horribly.

It is an understatement to say the medical industry knew little about the mentally challenged or mentally ill in the sixties... in the south... in Louisiana.

As all mothers do, mom fought hard to help her son believe in himself, telling him he was as normal as any other child, though I'm sure Hilton seldom felt as normal as everyone else. When I played baseball in high school, our head coach, Skeeter Theard, a well-known and well respected baseball man here in New Orleans, took a liking to Hilton and invited him to sit in the dugout to be our bat boy. After my graduation, Hilton, who now wanted to be called Tony, attended all of Skeets' many ball games as the team scorekeeper and then, as a pitcher with a wicked knuckle ball. Many sessions of pitch and catch had me chasing his "knuckler," it moved so much. Unfortunately, in those times, there wasn't much available to a kid with limited hearing. The hearing aids then were delicate, the size of today's cell phones and had to be connected to the ear by a chord. Tony never really got the chance other players received to show their talents.

Fast forward to the championship game, just this last Saturday, where a five run lead dwindled to one run in the bottom of the seventh. Three ground balls were hit to end the threat and win the game and therefore, the state high school championship, for the Jesuit Blue Jays. Two of those three grounders were hit to the long, lanky and rangy six foot, four inch shortstop playing his last game for his alma mater, and looking to play at the next level. Fielding it cleanly, as he did in each playoff game, he zipped it over to first base for the final out. Gloves and blue caps were thrown skyward into the cool night air as they all piled onto one another in a gigantic, celebratory mound with big, bright smiles all around.

Understandably, my brother and my mom's smile, were one of the biggest and brightest! 

Copyright/Ben Bensen III/ 2011

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Something A Little Bit Different... A Landscape, Sort Of!

Sketch of In Laws Backyard
Just a pencil sketch I did of my brother-in-laws backyard garden while awaiting other relatives to arrive.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day/2011

Ma'mere at Eighty-Six
These are three sketches I did over the past six months taking my mom to the doctor's for one exam or another. The center drawing was done from a photo I took of her after she got her hair done. I told her she looked so good that we had to go out to eat. And so we did! The two other sketches were done from two different situations. The one on the left mom posed for, sort of. I don't think she liked where the drawing was going, so she moved... a couple of times!

The other one I drew from a composite of little sketches. It was inspired by the look of concern she showed about some tests results she had to wait for.  I've been spending a lot of time with her and have seen this vacant yet concerned look enough times to draw it from memory. But I didn't!

For the record, all of mom's vital organs are in great condition for her age. Only some osteopenia has been found in her shoulder and hips.

Mom has a variety of different colored berets she wears when she doesn't like the way her hair looks or when she needs to keep the cold out. In other sketches of her, her beret is the best thing drawn.

Copyright Ben Bensen III / 2011

Friday, May 6, 2011

Tee's Concern... A Broken Arm Checkup!

Therese, a nurse, a receptionist, a smoker and an iPad patient
 My wife took a big spill a few weeks ago at school and severely broke her humerus in two. A few days ago, she nervously waited for the orthopedic's assessment of her healing as the nurses, one after another, took tests, blood pressure, surveys, and insurance info. You know, the regular! I sat down and took notes and sketched what I could. These are the best of the lot!

And Therese's prognosis for a complete recovery is good!

Copyright Ben Bensen III / 2011

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Sketch of a Silver Goblet... to be continued I'm sure!

One day, I took my mom to one of the many doctor's she's had to see for one test or another. I normally go into examination room just to escort her and listen with a second pair of ears in case she misses something... or everything! But in this one office, where there are usually ten or twelve patients seated in the waiting room, there were none. All there was of interest to draw, while waiting our turn, was this silver goblet... So, I drew it! Unfortunately, we were called in before I could finish it. I am sure we will return to see this doctor and receive his report on my mom's systems, so maybe I can complete it then.

Copyright Ben Bensen III / 2011