Saturday, December 17, 2011

Wild Geese

Crescent Moon and Wild Geese 
Utagawa Hiroshige
Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting 
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

from Dream Work by Mary Oliver 
Wild Geese 
Maxfirle Parrish

Friday, December 16, 2011


A couple of weeks ago, we went to Christkindlmarket Chicago.  It's a little bit of Gemany right downtown at Daly Plaza.

"Inspired by the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany, which began in 1545, the Christkindlmarket Chicago brings a cherished German and European tradition with international flair and local charm to Chicago. Chicago's largest open-air Christmas festival was first held on Pioneer Court in 1996. By special invitation of Mayor Richard M. Daley, Christkindlmarket Chicago moved to Daley Plaza in 1997 and has become a stable event on the plaza ever since. Together with the support of the Mayor’s Office of Special Events (MOSE), Christkindlmarket Chicago has grown to become one of the most popular winter attractions in the heart of the city."

I had long thought that Christmas would be a wonderful time to visit Germany.  When I had the opportunity to visit at Thanksgiving a couple of years ago, we had to go the the Christmas markets.  The Christkindlmarket Chicago conjures up memories of this visit.

Christkindlmarket Chicago Chicago offers many of the same things you would find in Germany like  ornaments that are hand-blown and painted, classic German products like nutcrackers, cuckoo clocks, and beer steins.  We really liked the ornaments.  There was a whole store full of glass ornaments:

Lucky Piggies
Bathtime Duckies
Shiny Pink Booties
Berlin Medallions 
Sweet Mushroom Fairies

Snacks at the market

You can warm up with some nice soup or potato pancakes, or a bratwurst.  Traditional Gluehwein, a  German holiday market hot spiced wine comes in a commemorative mug shaped like a boot!
So, if you want to pretend you are in Germany at Christmastime for a couple of hours, head to Christkindlmarket Chicago!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Clause

Virginia O'Hanlon
This story starts in 1897 when Virginia O'Hanlon wrote to the editor of The Sun asking to clear up the controversy of the existence of Santa Clause.
They wrote back to assure that "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist."
This year Macy's windows in Chicago have taken this story as a basis for their Christmas display windows with a "Wish Factory" theme.
They are full of gears and sprockets in what's being called a "Steam Punk" style.  I was reminded of the great Clocks on the corners of the store.  The displays rotate like the inside of a timepiece.

The gears and sprockets are chock full of Christmas goodies:

The production of these windows is a huge job. A team of 60 painters, welders, engineers, costume makers, carpenters, and visual artists produced, created. and installed the windows.  It took eight months of work.
The detail and fanciful quality is delightful!

If you're in Chicago, check it out!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Dream Deferred

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

~ Langston Hughes

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Wind and Water and Stone

Wind and Water and Stone

The water hollowed the stone,
the wind dispersed the water,
the stone stopped the wind.
Water and wind and stone.

The wind sculpted the stone,
the stone is a cup of water,
The water runs off and is wind.
Stone and wind and water.

The wind sings in its turnings,
the water murmurs as it goes,
the motionless stone is quiet.
Wind and water and stone.

One is the other and is neither:
among their empty names
they pass and disappear,
water and stone and wind.

~ Octavio Paz ~

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Turkish Hamam

Recently, while cruising around on the internet I happened upon some paintings of Jean-Léon Gérôme, who was a French painter and sculptor in the style now known as Academicism.  He did a lot of traveling and went to Turkey in 1853.  I was drawn to his paintings that depict the baths in these areas:

I was anxious to try a Turkish bath when I was in Turkey.  I did not see any Hookahs in the bath we went to.  We first went to an outdoor mudbath.  It was a warm spring with rushing water and a good deal of fine mud which we applied all over and then rested in the sun while it dried.
 After showering and enjoying some watermelon in the shade, we went to the Turkish Hamam.  The baths.  

After leaving our clothes in the dressing room, we venture forth with a Turkish towel wrapped around our swimsuit to the baths.  We are given bowls to pour water over ourselves and get drenched.  It is warm in the baths and then we rest on the warm marble.  At first it seems quite warm, almost hot, but after resting a while, it feels wonderfully relaxing and we are melting into the warm marble.
The chamber echoes as we trade desultory comments.

Next the men, dressed in towels, come in to wash us.  We get scrubbed with a rough cloth about like a loofah. Scrub, scrub scrub.  We are so relaxed, we are pretty much putty in their hands.  The next step, is a foam bath.  Clouds of foam are applied to our fresh tingling skin.  The bubbles pop like champagne on our baby-fresh skin.  It is a delightful sensation.

We are left to rest, again, as long as we like on the wonderful warm marble with bubbles popping, blissed out in the bath area with no sound but the echo of a drip, perhaps, and the shafts of sunlight playing  through the room.

Next question is "Would you like a massage?"  We had decided in advance that the answer to this question would be yes, but I think few would be able to say no at this point.  If you go to Turkey, this is an experience not to be missed!

Friday, March 4, 2011


 It could happen any time, tornado
earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.
Or sunshine, love, salvation.

 It could you know. That's why we wake
 and look out--no guarantees
 in this life.

 But some bonuses, like morning,
 like right now, like noon,
 like evening.

William Stafford 
The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems 

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Contessa's Birthday

It's been almost three years since my kitty, The Contessa Carlotta de Cremona, came to live with me.  But her birthday is right about now.  I'm not sure of the exact date but I think it was near the end of February, possibly the 29th, since she is a leap year kitty.  She was nearly lost in the shuffle when the kittens were born.  She was found not breathing but was saved by her person.

She was a tiny, little peanut when she came home with me.  The first thing she did when I picked her up at home, was reach her little arms and give me a kiss on the chin.  She was a very entertaining kitten.  Play, play, play!  She could jump straight up like popcorn!

Play play play.  Sleep.

She really knows how to relax too.

She loves fresh air and exercise outside when the weather is nice.

She loves a cardboard box or a paper bag too.

She is a dainty, elegant cat.  Except when she is getting into mischief and tearing around like a crazycat.  She has also proved to be a good mouser and has remained a kissy cat into her adulthood.

She's not expecially fond of photos, but she loves a good nap.
Happy Birtday Lottie!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

"The Yucatan Trova"

 On my recent trip to Mexico, I went to Mérida to see friends.  The anniversary of Mérida was being celebrated at the time with lots of music and dancing.  One especially charming custom is the parade of the Trova groups.  Everyone dresses up.

"The Yucatan Trova" is considered a national treasure, and is also the result of a literary and musical culture flourished between 1900 and 1940 Merida, at which time the serenades and veiled artistic formed an integral part of social life in that city."

"In Mexico, the tradition of trova takes the form of songs originated in the Yucatan peninsula, and generally known as “trova yucateca” or Yucatecan trova. These songs are considered a true national treasure. They were the result of a literary and musical cultural movement that took place in Mérida between 1900 and 1940. During this period, serenades and musical soirees were a key part of social life in the city. "
 The various unions march together, each group singing their own song.  The ladies wear their dress huipils which are richly embroidered and very fancy.

Calesas are also dressed up with flowers.

Most of the musicians are getting on in years.  This is a lovely tradition.  These musicians could be found on the zocalo waiting for people to hire them to play for parties or serenades for birthdays. This evening, we followed the musicians to the zocalo where they performed again and then fireworks were set off at midnight into the night sky.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

March on the Capitol

Today we marched again on the capitol to demonstrate for our right of collective bargaining.  Our new governor wants to dismantle our rights and many services in Wisconsin, a state known for a history of progressive politics.
Students, teachers, fireman, state workers and union members have been marching for a week now to stand and represent for our rights.
The governor has threatened to begin terminating state employees.
He wants to privatize the University so students can't afford it.

 He's telling us he needs to balance the budget.

It's not really about the money.

It's about collective bargaining.  Education.  Health care.
Handing our rights over to the corporations.

The union has agreed to the budgetary adjustments but
that is not enough.  He wants to take away our rights to
bargain for anything but salary

People from all over the world have been sending pizza to the protesters from Ian's Pizza
Thank you everyone.  It was delicous!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


One day I went to the windy side of the island.  Not as many people go there.  The waves roll in.

And with the waves come shell, rocks, and sea glass.  This time I decided I wanted sea glass for jewelry projects.
  Not so many people come to this side of the island...

But some do...

It's a perfect spot for beachcombing...

And relaxing...

Feels as good as you might imagine!

And I brought home a baggie full of beach glass for jewelry projects!