Feeding the artist

The art students were comparing notes on feeding the dolphins at Sea World during our popcorn break. Maybe that was what started it. Or maybe it was all the descriptions of devastated hospitals without food. My dreams are water-logged, and I realize that my inner artist has been without the foods on its specialized diet for too long.

My hospital kitchen job ($1.65/hr.) during high school and college involved making some special diets, as well as dishing up jello, mashed potatoes, cream of wheat, and beef consumee. We high school kids horsed around and socialized a lot, but we worked hard, and knew that our labor was important. Once during a big blizzard in '72 or '73 we were snowed in after our supper shift. Snow kept coming down and the wind chill kept going down. Parents couldn't come pick us up, and probably wouldn't be able to get the breakfast workers to the hospital.

It must have been Christmas time, because there were no students in the nursing school dorm across the parking lot. The head dietician asked us to stay in the dorm overnight so we could work the six a.m. shift. The patients would have to have breakfast.

After work, we plunged through the drifts and blasting wind over to the dorm, where we played basketball in the gym. Mostly, we stared out through the ice crystals forming fantastic designs on the windows at the drifts swelling in the parking lot.

None of this begins to compare with the dedication and ordeals of hospital workers in the Katrina disaster area. It might explain why I dreamed last night about one of the girls I worked with at Bryan Memorial thirty years ago, though.

My artist diet requires higher than normal visual roughage, time to read and to write, opportunities to see art, and to make art. I can get along on a regular diet of tater tots and folding laundry for the short term, but it's obvious when I need a nutritional supplement!

Besides visiting the DMA and listening to Glenn Gould playing Haydn's piano sonatas, I watched two opera videos this weekend.

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