Friday, September 17, 2010

The Front Garden

The Front Garden
Originally uploaded by ninniane

Thirty-seven/ Fifty-two 9.10.10-9.16.10

Today's (this being Sunday) big project was ripping out the ugly front garden and starting again. There were pricker-bushes all along the lower step of the garden that were a) ugly b) hard to prune c) hiding the hydrangeas. They've been replaced with lavender and asters.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Old Art in a New Home

Old Art in a New Home
Originally uploaded by ninniane

Thirty-Six/ Fifty-Two 9.3.10 - 9.9.10

Julia Anich Hull, wife, mother, Professor Emeritus, and force of nature, died Sunday, September 5th, 2010.

She was born in Akron to Nick and Mary Anich September 2nd, 1923, their second oldest. She spoke Serbo-Croatian until she began public school where she learned English, as children will, given a chance. Because of her experiences, especially with her first and eighth grade teachers, she determined to join their ranks as an educator.

She graduated from East High in 1941. Despite her grandmother’s derision, with the moral support of her father she enrolled at the University of Akron and began taking education classes. It was with a heavy heart that she determined that there was no way in hell she could stick out that course of study, basket weaving being her particular bane, and so she became an English major, abandoning all hopes of teaching.

After graduation she cast about as the job market for English majors then was about as bleak as it remains. Then she did what all English majors do: applied to Graduate school. Whilst retrieving her transcript one spring day in 1947, she bumped into the English Department Head. He inquired with a straight face whether she had found employment and told her of his dire need for bodies to throw before the flood of returning veterans attending college under the GI bill.

She took up the task of teaching men older than she who had seen the ravages of war (and the actual buildings they would read about). She bunked in an office with her former professors which was intimidating in the extreme. As the end of the term approached, she asked her mentor, Ruth Putman, whether she thought that they would keep her on. Ruth replied, in her Alabama drawl, “Oh, Joo’ya, you just stay until they tell you to leave.” And so she did for the next 43 years.

Having already applied to Western Reserve University for graduate work, and in spite of the fact that she had actually managed to land a job, she began taking classes. A part timer in the English department, John Hull, offered to drive her to Cleveland since he was studying there as well. After the first trip she returned home and told her older sister “I’m going to marry him.” John evidently did not get that memo.

They worked together, rode together, and socialized together for years while she finished her MA but it was only after a drunken party at the home of Leonard and Nellie Bertsch that he got up the nerve to propose. She said yes. He threw up on the way home. She cried herself to sleep. However, with her father’s blessing they wed and their marriage was a match for the ages, still remarked upon. They brought out the best in each other. “Cut off in the flower of his youth,” John died October 2, 1971 after a prolonged illness leaving Julia alone as the single mother of their only child, Jane Alexandra, nearly thirteen.

Julia had a great ability to communicate her enthusiasm for literature and the arts. She coached the debate team, helped start The Johnson Club, an academic social club, advised Alpha Lambda Delta, Freshman scholastic honorary, performed in faculty plays, taught literature, drama, poetry, and Western Culture, and almost always got stuck with at least one Freshman Comp class until she was so old that they felt sorry for her and stopped assigning it to her.

She had an extraordinary combination of kindness and sardonic wit, yet a sharp eye for the ridiculous and the despicable. She loathed faculty meetings although she enjoyed her colleagues--many as friends and some as cannon fodder. As her niece put it, “When she comes at you with open arms you are never sure whether you are walking into a hug or a propeller.” She enjoyed argument, that which weaker personalities call “fighting.” She loved art and cooking and was happily making French food after that other Julia’s book came out. She enjoyed music and was very grateful that her husband faithfully supported the nascent Akron Symphony since she found it painful to listen to in the early years and didn’t want to go. She loved to travel and had an unerring sense of direction: she was always exactly wrong, which, if you consider, is as good as being always exactly right. She enjoyed torturing her daughter with art and architecture lessons whenever they traveled (Clerestory, mom. Flying buttresses. Barrel vault...)

She was lucky enough to find a neighborhood of loving and fun friends and she lived there from 1956 until she died. She was an avid gardener, antique hunter, and fixer-upper. The parties with the Slocums and Gentners were some of her fondest times. There was the Momus Club, a monthly gathering of faculty for the purpose of food, merriment, and argument (fighting). All in all, not a bad life for a girl from east Akron whose funny name kept her from rushing any of the sororities at Akron U.

Dr. Johnson wrote, “While grief is fresh, every attempt to divert only irritates. You must wait till it be digested, and then amusement will dissipate the remains of it.” The grief is fresh for those who cared for Julia through the brutal affliction of Alzheimer’s Disease: close friend and devoted caregiver Millie McMasters, care-givers neighbor Nicole Flower and Shelby Black, faithful sister-in-law Marilyn Smith who made Thursday meals her mission and delivered Sunday flowers regularly. Other members of Julia’s care-team have included John Wiandt, Dave Stevenson, Joni James, Amy Kobb, and Julia’s neighbor of 54 years, Marge Slocum. Each of them provided exactly what was needed at exactly the right time. The family is grateful to Sue McCausland from Aseracare Hospice for her compassion during Julia’s last few days and the doctors of Ghent Family Practice for the amazing care and support they have provided throughout the last six years, especially to Dr. Pirozzi who is wise enough to know that you can’t thwart death.

Burying friend and family alike, Julia saw herself as “the last leaf on the tree,” leaving behind her only remaining sibling, younger sister Bonnie Uher, along with numerous nieces and nephews of both sword and distaff sides, grand-nieces, grand-nephews, friends, students, and colleagues. She is survived by daughter Jane Alexandra and her family: Arthur, Susan, Sarah, Stefan, Jenny, Lori, and Lucy- The- Wondercat.

Julia would not approve of wasting money on flowers. Make donations to the Friends of the Akron University Library, the Wright Scholarship established by Ruth Clinefelter to support women studying Classics, Archaeology, History, or Women’s Studies, the Summit County Historical Society, Visiting Nurse Hospice, or the Alzheimer’s Association’s Research Fund at She wanted no money to be donated directly to the University of Akron except to established funds for specific purposes. She did not approve of, and refused to support, the commercialization of education and the degradation of faculty that she perceived had occurred over the past three administrations at Akron U.

It was Julia’s direction that she die in her own bed at home and then be cremated. She has been obeyed.

Fear no more the heat o' the sun,
Nor the furious winter's rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages:
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust. ~ The Winter's Tale, IV.2

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Temple Door

Temple Door
Originally uploaded by ninniane

Thiry-five/ Fifty-two 8.27.10 - 9.2.10

One of the places I've intended to go for the past few months is to the Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago. Jenny and I have been collecting money on an altar, which we took to donate. They don't allow photographs inside the temple, but they said I was welcome to wander the grounds and take photos of the outside of the building. This is one of the doors to the Durga-Shiva-Ganesh temple. It was absolutely impossible to capture just how beautiful the place was, but I was particularly intrigued by the mandala painted on the ground in front of the door. I would like to paint something like that somewhere around my house some day.

Shadow Reflections

Shadow Reflections
Originally uploaded by ninniane

Thirty-four/ Fifty-two 8.20.10 -8.26.10

Audition day at Chicago Shakespeare! It was also Tall Ships weekend, so the Pier was crazy, but we managed to get there early enough to get a decent parking space. You can see my reflection in between the reflections of two other ensemble members. We were all waiting up on the 6th floor of CST for our turns to audition. I don't know what parts I have yet, but I should know within a couple weeks!