The Week Ends – make it Great! Monday, Mar 22 2010 


“Have a great weekend!” How many times have those words been spoken? Usually the reply is “Thanks and the same to you!” 

view from my front door during 'snowmageddon 2010'

I have thought, more than once, “what makes a great weekend?” I have also thought “great weekends  are made by enjoying life!’ For example, one weekend during the snowmagedon 2010  my hubby and I enjoyed comfort foods, read books and magazines, played Scrabble, went for a midnight stroll, fell  into the snow and made snow angels and then watch a group of young people snow fight. In the knee deep snow we walked around the neighborhood holding hands. When we returned home, we sat  together and drank hot herbal tea  ~ it was a great weekend! 

How nifty! Every five days  a-new-end-of the-week happens. A new chance for fond memories. Last weekend, while Larry developed a new online social media called The CopingStone, http://copingstone.net,  some friends and I viewed the Sevres Porcelain collection that spans from 1750-2000 - 

sevres vase

an extraordinary exhibit at the Hillwood museum,  the former home of the Post Cereal heiress Majorie Merriweather Post.  Of course, my friends and I did a lot of ‘oohing and aahing’ as we fantasized owing portions of the Sevres Collection – a must see!  http://www.hillwoodmuseum.org/exhibitions/Exhibitions.html 

Friday evening hubby and I, with another couple, enjoyed dinner at the Shangri-La Indian Cuisine in Silver Spring, Maryland. After the delicious meal we walked over to the Roundhouse Theater and saw the play “My Name is Asher Lev” adapted from Chaim Potok’s book about a Hasidic Jewish boy in New York City. The protagonist, Asher Lev, is a loner with artistic inclinations, but his art causes conflicts with his family and other members of his community ~ the play and book follows Asher’s maturity as an artist, as well as a Jew. The play, the performance ~ Excellent! 

Bright and early Saturday morning,  at the invitation of a friend, who is a member the Washington Performing Arts Society,  I volunteered several hours to help during the Joseph and Goldie Feder Memorial String Competition. 

young musician/Feder String Competition

 The foundation was established by Mrs. Feder in honor of her late husband, to enable young musicians to discover their true musical potential. It was poetry to watch the young musicians, ranging from ages 8 to 15 years, quietly prepare for the moment to compete – their discipline and ability to focus was as beautiful as the music they intended to play. 

Sunday afternoon my hubby and I visited the Phillips Museum, of which we are members, to experience pianist Alon Goldstein pair Robert Schumann’s Fantasy with Ludwig van Beethoven’s Appassionata – an exquisite performance. 

Alon Goldstein

In my conclusion, this past weekend rates as high as the snowmageddon weekend. 

There you have it, ‘a great weekend is simply enjoying life!’ 

Praise God there are many more to come! 

“Thank You”: a dying art? Thursday, Mar 18 2010 


“Ugh, it’s time-consuming.”

“It isn’t necessary.”

“It’s a dying art.”

“Oh, I just send emails.”

Those are some of the many replies I hear when I mention the subject of the Handwritten Note.

I always muse that those who think note writing is a waste of time, are the very people who don’t think it’s a waste of time when they are receiving a gift . Why the double standard? That is a question for which I have no answer .

But I do know that something wonderful happens when one takes the time to write a ‘thank you’ note: a sense of gratitude pervades the writer’s life; the focus on self is shifted to the focus on others; the emphasis is no longer on ‘what I own,’ the emphasis becomes ‘what I owe.’

The poet Oscar Wilde, during two years of imprisonment, learned the importance of what he owed due to the kindness of others, over what he owned due to his privileged life style. In a letter to his friend Sir Henry Maximilian Beerbohm, Oscar Wilde wrote:

“I used to think gratitude a heavy burden for one to carry. Now I know that it is something that makes the heart lighter. The ungrateful man seems to me to be one who walks with feet and heart of lead. But when one has learnt, however, inadequately, what a lovely thing gratitude is, one’s feet go lightly over sand or sea, and one finds a strange joy revealed to one, the joy of counting up, not what one possesses, but what one owes. I hoard my debts now in the treasury of my heart, and, piece of gold by piece of gold, I range them in order at dawn and at evening. So you must not mind my saying that I am grateful to you. It is simply one of certain new pleasures that I have discovered.”

Art expresses the aesthetic principles of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance. Oscar Wilde toured America lecturing extensively on aestheticism; however, it was in prison he learned that the true nature of beauty is gratitude.

Gratitude ~ beautiful art!

to be continued…

“Thank You”: The Art of It All Thursday, Mar 4 2010 


     It seems today that many people have perfected the art of complaining. People in general seem to complain about anything and everything: it’s too cold, it’s too hot; my spouse works too much, my spouse doesn’t work enough;  the government is too involved in our lives, the government doesn’t do enough for us; no one asks for my help, no one offers to help me; he’s too fat, she’s too thin. The list of complaints is endless.

     How is it that so much energy is spent on broadcasting what is wrong and very little, if any, energy is spent on sharing the good that each person experiences each day? Yes, we all – every single person – experience something good each day. Simple things as waking up each morning; each morning bringing a new opportunity to succeed at life; each day giving a chance to invest in another’s life with the hopes of reaping the good one has sown; someone acknowledging you with a kind greeting, a simple smile, or a sincere compliment.

     How different would your world be and how different would your effect on the world be if you made a decision to express ‘thanks’ each time an act of kindness was shown to you? Let’s face it, someone took time out of his (her) life to be kind to you, e.g., held the elevator or opened a door for you, hosted you for overnight(s), offered a sympathetic ear, assisted with a project.; therefore, it is only proper that you would take time out of your life to express your gratitude for the kindness you received.

     Although, there are situations that a simple voiced “thank you” is all that is required, there are many more times that “Nothing can replace the acknowledgment of a kind deed better than a handwritten note from the heart.”

To be continued…

Sexy Shoe, No Pain ~ Life is Good! Sunday, Dec 13 2009 


Ferragamo's Cage-heel Shoe

Ferragamo's Cage heel shoe

 Salvador Ferragamo (1898-1960) the eleventh of 14 children, discovered at an early age his passion and talent for designing beautiful shoes.  Born in Italy, he emigrated to the United States and after a short time in Boston, Massachusetts he moved to Southern California, where he quickly became known as ‘Shoemaker to the Stars.’  Some of his clients were Carmen Miranda, Judy Garland, Duchess of Windsor and Eva Peron. His creations were beautiful, but he couldn’t understand why his shoes pleased the eye, but hurt the foot ~ he decided to study anatomy at the University of Southern California. To his credit some of his inventions and designs revolutionized the shoemaking industry.  

What happened to his research? I’ve had pairs and pairs of gorgeous shoes that absolutely hurt my feet.  Was it in the 1950s when Ferragamo invented the metal arch support so that shoes no longer needed ‘toe caps’ to serve as brakes for the feet? Ouch! The 1960s, the decade that I own my first pair of high-heels; before then I wore my mother’s shoes around the house playing dress-up. Clop, clop, the sound I made as I walked across the wood floors in the Victorian Flat we lived, as I struggled to keep my mother’s heels on, while trying to gracefully glide across the room without falling. I tripped a lot.   

Ferragamo shoes

Okay, back to Ferragamo’s research ~ gorgeous shoes that please the eye and don’t hurt the foot. Did he succeed? Perhaps ‘yes,’ perhaps ‘no.’ That dilemma is as strange as the mystery of “why coffee (espresso, pressed or dripped) isn’t as delicious as its aroma is tantalizing?”  Dare to imagine a world so perfect? Let’s try!  

Life is Good!

 Reclining on a red leather ‘corbusier-ish-styled’ sofa – oh so modern, drinking coffee – delicious as its aroma, nibbling on chocolates  – delighting the senses of taste and smell, with feet in the air – wrapped in very sexy, very comfortable, very high-heeled (in this dream) ankle-boots.  

Oh yeah, sexy shoe plus painless feet ~ Life is Good!  :-D

An Extraordinary Afternoon Tuesday, Dec 8 2009 


 “Hello, Loretta. Instead of half past the hour, can you meet me at a quarter to the hour?” “Yes!” I replied. “I’ll see you in a bit. Goodbye.” 

Ending the telephone call and feeling rushed, I grabbed the hot iron to curl my hair. ‘Ouch!’ I burned my finger. Ignoring the pain, I finished styling my hair. Look in the mirror to checked my make-up and thought ‘flawless.’ Quickly dressed, looked in the mirror, again and thought ‘gorgeous.’ 

 CLICK, Click, click! The sound of my heeled boots beating the brick pathway as I briskly walked to my neighbor’s house. She was waiting outside her front door; we hug; exchanged compliments; jumped in her car. “Are we late?” I asked. The answer was ‘no.’ “Hmm.” I silently mused. 

We arrived to our destination ~ The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts;  it is a beautiful place, which has a River Terrace that overlooks the Potomac ~ definitely the perfect setting for a romantic night with that ‘special someone.’ 

President John F. Kennedy (Bust)Stepping into the Grand Foyer, I approached the 3,000 pound, eight foot bronze bust of President John F. Kennedy and quietly remembered. My thoughts were interrupted, “Loretta, let’s find our seats,” ~ and find our seats, we did ~ box tier ~ how nice. 

Eruption of applauses as Italian Conductor Riccardo Muti stepped to the podium; he bowed; tapped his wand; raised his arms and then the music began; the New York Philharmonic performed, under Muti’s direction, LISZT – Les Preludes, ELGAR – In the South and PROKOFIEV – Suite from Romeo and Juliet. 

JFK Center Concert Hall

For a few moments, after the last note was played, the final bow was made and the clapping had ended, my eyes danced about the Concert Hall, with its 2,442 seats, 11 Hadelands crystal chandeliers and 4,144 piped organ. I look at my neighbor and said, “Thank you for an extraordinary afternoon!” She smiled and said, “Welcome!”

Airmen and Headhunters Sunday, Nov 22 2009 


 Rising from my seat, I stood up to meet the recently arrived guest, as our hostess escorted her into the room where other guests and I were enjoying refreshments. As I waited my turn to be introduced, I noticed the newly arrived guest’s attire; she wore a brown and amber-ish alpaca hooded-poncho, that  topped a pair of  dark chocolate wool pants.  The hostess finished the introductions; the  newly arrived guest then removed her poncho to reveal a very crisp white tailored blouse underneath a ‘Katherine Hepburn’ styled jacket that matched her pants in fabric and color ~ and then, 

Judith M. Heimann's book

I heard another guest say, “Judith, congratulations on the documentary that PBS did on your book!” Judith graciously accepted the congratulation and other guest continued with a request, “Please tell us more about your book and the documentary.” For the next hour, or more, the other guests and I were delighted as Judith M. Heimann told us of her recent book The Airmen and the Headhunters and the recently aired PBS documentary of the same title. 

Tribesmen of Borneo

She explained to us that it took her ten years and four continents to tell the story of airmen, who crashed landed in Japanese-occupied Borneo, an island in the South Pacific, and the heroic tribesmen, who gave safe refuge to the airmen.  Judith continued to explained that in 1992,  while in Australia, she was writing about the life of Tom Harrisson.

Austin Palmer Method of Handwriting

It was then that she came across a letter addressed to Maj. Harrisson, written in  the rounded Palmer Method (a handwriting method taught in the American schools in the 1940s); the letter was signed by nine WWII airmen and referenced the little-known special operation that Harrisson led behind enemy lines ~ she knew there was a ‘story’ within the story of Tom Harrisson’s life that had to be uncovered and told.

Indeed, a special evening at the home of a friend. 

Oh, did I mention that Judith was wearing an elegant pair of dark brown ankle boots?

Let’s Walk Monday, Nov 2 2009 


 “Un bon croquis vaut mieux qu’un long discours,” ~Napoleon Bonaparte

065

before I could spell the word, I had 'style'

 According to Bonaparte a good sketch is better than a long speech ~ or a more modern adage “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
 
Does it appear in the photo to the right that I am subtly pointing to my cow-girl-boots, as I give that ‘oh-yeah-I-am-gorgeous-look to the camera?
 
I wonder what happened to my ‘these-boots-are-made-for-walkin’ ~ of course, that isn’t in the context of Nancy Sinatra’s song by the same name ~ which was voted the 114th best song of the 1960s.  When the song was released in 1966, it topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Although Nancy sung the song as if she were giving the brush-off to a potential suitor, many thought it was about the twelve-day New York Transit Strike that effectively ended all services on the sub-way and buses in that city ~ millions of commuters had to decide whether ‘to walk, or not to walk’ to work.
 
Thursday, November 05th, my husband and I will enjoy  the upbeat mix of  American Jazz and West African music at the Phillips Collection Museum. How does that relate to my previous paragraph? It doesn’t, except that I plan to wear boots to the event. Certainly not like the ones I am wearing in the photo!   ~ but, the boots I plan to wear they are made for walking ~ as in comfort! :-D 

Man~Ray…Modern Art Tuesday, Oct 20 2009 


coffee and cookieA lovely day! My husband and I attended Sunday Service in Baltimore, Maryland. We returned home to enjoy a ‘Smorgasbord-of-left-overs.’ After our meal, I hurriedly cleared the table, cleaned the kitchen and then ran upstairs to use the Internet. Finding the information I needed, I called after Larry, “¡Vamos! The museum hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and it’s almost 3 p.m., now!”  He replied, “In a minute ~ I am still enjoying my coffee and cookie.” Oops! Hot coffee  with a touch of heavy whipping cream to serve as a chaser to a warmed chocolate cookie ~ that is one of the simple pleasures of life that should never be rushed. So I slowed down a bit and reflected on the yummies of a chocolate delight.

my neighbor's yummy chocolate brown suedes, with bows at the toes :-D

my neighbor's yummy chocolate brown suede shoes, with bows at the toes :-D

 

Twenty minutes later,  enjoying the cool air on our faces and taking in the sights as we walked along Massachusetts Avenue toward the Phillips Museum to view the Man~Ray: African Art and the Modern Lens Collection ~ which I looked forward to seeing for several weeks.  As a matter of fact, two weeks earlier, I invited my neighbor to join me for a Sunday afternoon viewing of the Man Ray Collection, only to discover after we arrived at the museum that we were a week too early. Although,  a bit disappointed, we did enjoy a lovely concert in the Phillips Music Room: featuring Anastasia Petanova, flutist and Timothy Hoft pianist in a performance of music by Francis Poulenc, Erwin Schulhoff and Richard Strauss ~ delightful and so were the shoes my neighbor wore ~ they, too seemed to have a musical quality.

photograph of Man Ray

photograph of Man Ray

 

Two point eight miles later, Larry and I stepped into the Phillips, which opened in 1921 becoming America’s first museum of modern art; its permanent collection includes about 3,000 works by American and European artists: Degas, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Picasso and Whistler, just to name a few. However, my sole purpose on this third Sunday in October was to view the Man Ray Collection ~ but I didn’t know what to expect. The exhibition at the Phillips explores his strong engagement with African art in the comparison, contrast and blending of American modernism, the Harlem Renaissance, surrealism, high fashion and popular culture during a time of issues of race, gender and colonialism. Man Ray was born Emmanuel Radnitsky (1890-1976), he is best known for his avant-garde photography, even though he considered himself a painter ‘first;’ he was a contributor to the Dada and Surrealism movements; he is also noted developing photograms, which he renamed ‘rayographs’ after himself.

Photogram is an image made without a camera by placing objects directly onto the surface of a photo-sensitive material such as photographic paper

Photogram is an image made without a camera by placing objects directly onto the surface of a photo-sensitive material such as photographic paper

 

The Oprah Effect ~ or more fitting in this case The Man Ray Effect. Before his photographs of African pieces, no one thought of those objects as fine art, noted my husband. It was Man Ray, who through the lens of a camera elevated what seemed crude and meaningless to the level of fine art that changed the 20th-century modernist taste for African Art and reached a popular audience ~ in America and Europe.

Man Ray's elegant presentation of African Art

Man Ray's elegant presentation of African Art

In 1999, ARTnews magazine named Man Ray one of the 25 most influential artists of the 20th-century ~ saying “Man Ray offered artists in all media an example of a creative intelligence …and his guiding principles, unlocked every door it came to and walked freely where it would.”

http://shop.phillipscollection.org/phillips/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man_Ray

 

 

3 inch heels ~ Practical? Thursday, Oct 8 2009 


in flightI settled into my seat and prepared for the Red-eye flight from San Francisco, California to Washington, District of Columbia. Closing my eyes as the plane lifted off, I felt tired. I slipped off my Taryn Rose T-Strap shoes. Thankful that my feet didn’t hurt, I reflected on the first time I purchased a pair of Taryn Rose shoes. It was at Nordstrom in Austin, Texas. I wanted an attractive heel, but comfort had become a priority due to the love/hate affair I had with several pairs of my very pretty high heels ~ the affair can only be voiced as ‘I love the way my feet look in these shoes, Oh-h-h-h, I hate the way these shoes hurt my feet!’

After I had drifted off to sleep, what seemed like only minutes later, I was awakened by the Captain’s voice, over the public announcement system, instructing the flight attendants to prepare for landing. An all night flight, arriving the next morning, crossing 4 time zones, my eyes trying to adjust to the glare of the sun rays shining through the airplane window, then reality sets in ~ I have a 2 1/2 hour lay-over in Boston. Ugh!

Rocking chairs at the Boston Airport

Rocking chairs at the Boston Airport

Leaving the plane, I headed for my connecting gate and to my delight there was a row of 15 rocking chairs in the corridor about ten feet from my gate. I gladly claim one! I sat watching other travelers pass by and I was fascinated with their choice of footwear. Armed with my Cannon PowerShot camera, sitting in my rocker wearing 3 inch black-patient T-strap heels, I took pictures of the “practical shoes” (notice the quotation marks) that my fellow travelers wore as they raced by.

My tribute to the racing feet at the Boston Airport

My tribute to the racing feet at the Boston Airport

Why quotation mark “practical shoes?” Because the term ‘practical shoe’ isn’t based only on the height of the heel. For example: the first time I wore a pair of Taryn Rose shoes, I had them on for about for about 11 hours ~ traveling from Austin, TX to Los Angeles CA. If anyone has had a connecting flight at the Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) Airport, then that one is fully aware of the stress of trying to get from one terminal to the next terminal. I decided to walk from Terminal A gate 15 to Terminal D gate 22. I even manage to make two detours: one for Starbucks and the other, well the powder room.

I look just as alluring in my black t-straps as does the model in this photo with a red pair of Taryn Rose T-straps - it is my story and I can write it the way I want :-)

I look just as alluring in my black t-straps as does the model in this photo with a red pair of Taryn Rose T-straps - it is my story and I can write it the way I want to write it :-)

I found my gate; boarded the aircraft and hours later I arrived in Los Angeles, CA. Exited the plane and in a ‘New York’ stride I headed for the baggage claim. Collected my luggage. Hired a taxi. Arrived at the hotel, but my room wasn’t ready. Left my luggage with the hotel security. Hired another taxi and headed for the Los Angeles’ shopping district. I step out of the taxi and commenced to walk and shop for three hours. When I finally returned to my hotel, I flopped on the bed and took note that I was physically tired but my feet were pain-free and quite pretty in my Taryn Rose 3 inch heels.

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American Bison Monday, Sep 28 2009 


For the VERY first time,  I saw, in person, a herd of American Bison as I drove on Interstate-35West North bound near the exit to Decatur, Texas!

If I had not been traveling solo, that Monday, on March 30th, I would have exited the freeway and back-tracked a couple miles just to photograph such a sight for this extrememly-completely-you-better-know-it-and-no-doubt-about-it-CITY’fied-Girl – that would be me, born and raised San Francisco, California.

Bison herd at Catalina Island, CA

Bison herd at Catalina Island, CA

Instead, I called my husband and excitedly told him that I had just seen a herd of buffalos; he replied that he thought it was ‘pretty cool,’ but added that he was quite sure it was a herd of American Bison that I had seen and not a buffalo herd. Later that day, by e-mail, he sent to me a photo of a bison to confirm what type of beast I had actually seen.

American Bison

American Bison

He was right! It was a herd of bison that I saw – not buffalos.  Many people have mistakenly called this magnificent beast a buffalo – as I did, but thanks to my highly intelligent husband, I learned that the bison is more kin to the cow, than to the buffalo.

Early American settlers called bison “bufello” due to the similar appearance between the two animals, and the name “buffalo” stuck for the American variety – but that is a misnomer!

A collage of African and Asian Buffalos

A collage of African and Asian Buffalos

The American bison (Bison bison) lives only in North America, while the two main buffalo species reside in Africa and Asia. A small population of bison relatives called the European bison (Bison bonasus) lives in isolated parts of Poland. 

Like buffalo, bison belong to the Bovidae family, which includes more than 100 species of hoofed mammals, called ungulates—buffalo, bison, antelopes, gazelles, cattle, sheep and goats. Two main buffalo species exist: African cape buffalo and Asian water buffalo.

If you were to stand eye-to-eye with a buffalo species and a bison—and you weren’t mowed you down—you’d notice stark physical differences. Unlike any buffalo species, the American bison sports a large shoulder hump and a massive head, which gives this symbol of the West its burly appearance.

Well, seeing a herd of American Bison in person, does rate high on my list – hmm, about as high on the list as the first time I saw a chicken not wrapped in plastic – somewhat tramatic for this Urbanite! :-D

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