Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday List #20-The Internet

When Facebook and Twitter went mainstream the ability to connect became endless and as a social media user and a blogger the Internet became a neighborhood. Years ago when I first started blogging the community was smaller than it is now. As I've connected with other bloggers through shared friends, interests or profession my life has been changed. Sure that sounds like a broad sentimental statement but it's true. So for today's Monday list, 5 ways the www has impacted my life.

  1. Reconnecting through Facebook. It's simple. Long lost childhood friends, high school friends, former colleagues. I've found them, they've found me. When I receive a friend request and it's from someone I've often wondered about, or from someone I once loved, it's like the past calling. It's amazing to share memories and to make new ones.
  2. Health. Need a recipe, Google it. Want to watch a yoga video from home, YouTube it. Answers at your finger tips. Support when you need it. Inspiration all over the place.
  3. Music. The Internet is full of music and as I listen to Pandora at work, I'm often reminded that there is more than pop radio and movie soundtracks. Do you remember records? I do and recently I've bought a few wonderful albums long forgotten. And after I buy a new record or create a new Pandora station I Wikipedia the artist and learn even more.
  4. Words. Google books. Online zines. Blogs. Poetry. Classics. Travel. The sheer volume of what I read on a daily basis is amazing. There is so much wonderful literature, memoirs, inspirational stories, news. Good and bad, words are still the most powerful thing in life.
  5. Blogs. Where to start...over the years I've connected with some amazing people through blogging. Some I've met in real life. Some I've only communicated with via email. I've attended their events, read their books, laughed over photos. And I've cried at a funeral...Shannon lost her fight against breast cancer at 29 in 2010. Alice is changing lives through bone marrow registry at only 15 years old. And Kristian...the world knows your story, I wish it had a happy ending and that love could save you. I'm thankful you shared your lives on the www.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanks Ferris

A day for family and friends, eating and giving thanks. A day for traditions old and new. Last year I cooked my first Thanksgiving dinner. This year I am spending the day creating new memories.

As I read what my friends are sharing on Facebook and Twitter today...what they are thankful for, the names of those they love and miss, food and football they are excited about, I'm thankful for a year of major changes that resulted in so much love and happiness.

I am thankful for my new home and my new job. Thankful that my family is healthy and happy. Thankful for my son and his wonderful sense of humor. Thankful for my new nephew. Thankful for finding Paul. Thankful for my parents and their unwavering love and support. Thankful for my crazy silly Beagle. Thankful for my friends who've been there through the good and the bad.

And I remain hopeful that the people I help at the library who are looking for jobs or are in career transition find work, keep their homes and sleep through the night with less worries. And today I will forget all the unhappy Thanksgivings I had with unpleasant people during the years of my marriage. I will give thanks that life moves on and for the occasional reminder to stop and look around so life doesn't pass us by.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday List #19-Chicago's Art Institute

Chicago is home to one of the greatest art museums in the world, The Art Institute. As a member of the AI I visit as often as I can. I can easily spend the entire day there wandering the labyrinth of collections, attending events, relaxing in the members lounge for a coffee or cocktail, enjoying lunch in one of the cafes or shopping at the museum gift shops. It is truly one of my favorite places to be.

Last Friday I attended a gallery talk on Doris Lee's 1935 painting Thanksgiving. A museum education member gave a short lecture on this piece as well as 2 other pieces that focused on the tradition of celebrating a bountiful harvest. These short gallery talks are one of the best ways to learn about the AI's collection as well as the artist and story behind the work.

Depending on how much time I have during my visit I try and see a few of my favorite works each time I am at AI. For today's Monday List I am sharing 10 of my favorite works at AI.
  1. Jacopo da Empoli's Portrait of a Nobelwoman Dressed in Mourning. This large painting is mesmerizing. Maybe it's the sheer size of the work, her imposing expression or her fantastic mourning clothes. Just love it.
  2. Jules Adolphe Breton's The Song of the Lark. There is no way to describe the color of the sun in this work. It's so brilliant in person it's like the artist captured the sun. I love the look on the young woman's face, I always imagine that if she is listening to the song of a lark, it has a very special meaning to her.
  3. William Powell Frith's The Lovers. To me this man and woman are Jane Austen characters. This little painting is hanging in a hallway, walk quick and you'll miss it. I wonder if they had a happy ending.
  4. Harald Sohlber's Fisherman's Cottage. The cottage glows. It's like a perfect vacation getaway, I can hear the water and the rustling of the trees.
  5. Monet's London Series. This is usually my first stop at AI. I love each of the works in this series of bridges. London, foggy, soft colors. Very dreamlike. My love for this series is one of the reasons I went to Giverny to visit Monet's home and gardens when I was in Paris last year.
  6. Every work by Ivan Albright. When I first saw Ivan Albright's Picture of Dorian Gray, I was horrified (he painted it for the 1940's movie adaption of Oscar Wilde's famous novel) The more I look at it the more I admire it. It's really quite ghastly but hard to look away from. I recently bought a print of Into the World There Came a Soul Called Ida and I might get some strange questions from guests when they see it hanging in my home. His works are haunting, check out another favorite, his famous Door, That Which I Should Have Done I Did Not Do. Both the Picture of Dorian Gray and Door are HUGE works which makes them even more fascinating.
  7. John Singer Sargent's Madame Paul Escudier (Women in Blue Dress). When I think of grand portraits in castles, I think of Sargent. I love the woman's dress, very Edith Wharton era. Love the darkness of the room.
  8. Dante Gabriel Rossetti's Beata Beatrix. So sad and so lovely. The artist's dead wife at the minute of her death and in the small panel below the portrait, the moment he meets his wife in the afterlife.
  9. Thorne Miniature Rooms. 68 tiny little rooms, a historical dollhouse. You have to see these rooms to believe it.
  10. William Zorach's Summer. Surreal and sexy, you can just imagine what they've been doing or what they are about to do.
If you are a Chicagoan or will be visiting the City, AI is a must see. You have to linger here, there is no rushing, you'll miss something wonderful. If you are looking for someone to wander with let me know, I will bring you for free as a member guest.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Who's the Fairest of them All?

I LOVE fairy tales. Being a child of the 70's, I grew up with the books, not the Disney movies with 2 exceptions (the classic Snow White 1937 animated masterpiece and the equally wonderful 1950 animated Cinderella). In the last 20 years Disney has recreated animated and live action versions of many of the fairy tales we all grew up with, some I've enjoyed, many I have not. Disney has never been one to stick to the original story. Understandable for the Disney audience since most fairy tales are dark, scary gruesome tales of betrayal, death and sadness that only occasionally have a happy ending.

Years ago when I started collecting rare books I began buying fairy tales at antique stores and online auctions. I have a few wonderful books including:
  • Aesop's Fables, 1887. Not fairy tales, but fables. Charming stories with beautiful illustrations.
  • The Children's Blue Bird, 1913. Wonderful stories with stunning illustrations. The frontispiece illustration is of a little boy and his sister (Tyltyl and Mytyl) perched on a bed peering at the vision of a witch and a magical land, "The hat was no sooner on the little's boy's head than a magic change came over everything." You will have to read the stories to figure out what the blue bird symbolizes.
  • The Fairy Mythology by Thomas Knightly, 1850. Fairies, elves, spirits, it's all here. Irish author Knightly introduces what is now widely known as the modern leprechaun in this book.
  • Legend of the Rhine, 1869. This stunning book of German fairy tales is a treasure.
Fairy Tales are popping up all over TV and films right now. I've started watching Once Upon a Time on ABC and after a rough couple of episodes it seems to be hitting its potential. Robert Carlyle as Rumpelstiltskin is fantastic. There is also Grimm on NBC which I have saved on my DVR but yet to watch, I've been told it's gruesome. Nice.

In 2012 there are 2 versions of Snow White being released. Universal Pictures is releasing, Snow White and the Huntsmen. The trailer looks interesting, I appreciate that is appears they are retaining the darkness and fear of the story. Strange casting choice of Kristen Stewart as Snow White, I'm hoping her Snow White is stronger that the whiny Bella she is famous for in the Twilight films. Charlize Theron looks lusciously psychotic as the Evil Queen.

And Relativity Films has made Mirror, Mirror. Hmmm, trailer is funny and odd. Julie Roberts as a snarky Evil Queen could be great. Snow White is played by singer Phil Collin's daughter. Nice to also see Nathan Lane in the film too.

I am including both trailers below. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"I live in 2 worlds"

One of my favorite television shows was the delightfully odd Gilmore Girls. The show was charming...hysterically funny with eccentric characters, lovely small town setting, beautiful homes and oddball stories. The show centered on quirky single mom Lorelei and her straight-laced bookworm teenage daughter Rory. Rory had one of the best quotes ever with, "I live in two worlds. One is a world of books". The quote continued with her explaining the characters and places she's experienced through books and ends with her discussing the charm of her real world which is equally full of interesting characters. For anyone who has seen the show you'll understand why the real characters in Rory's world were just as interesting as the characters in the books she reads.

Rory's quote has me thinking about the different worlds we live in. The real world of:
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Work
and the other worlds where we escape to:
  • Books
  • Movies
  • Video games
I've always escaped into books and movies and many of my "other worlds" have been documented here (Films of style and romance, books by Katie Fforde). But what about the world that can transcend the real and the imagination? For me it's my home. My little nest where I can hunker down, brew some tea or pour a glass of wine, linger over my Parisian decorating books, watch Bette Davis float down yet another grand staircase, enjoy my rare books or take out my jewelry, elbow length gloves and play dress up. For awhile I forget the real world outside my door and I can walk around in a home I'm building from my imagination.

The Gilmore Girls shared an amazing little world in the house that Rory shared with her mother Lorelei. You can see photos of it's eccentric, messy charm here.

So thanks Rory, for getting it. Book lovers live in different worlds.

Enjoy this short clip of some of Rory's best book moments, love when she smells the book. I'm there with ya!

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Ok, this is the coolest phone cover/wallet ever! If you have an iPhone you need a BookBook.
I mean come on, it looks like an old leather book. LOVE.
Just ordered mine...