Monday, January 31, 2011

Colored Corners of my Home

Inspired by this post from Soulemama, here's an updated corner of my home... the improving entryway. For a year after we moved here our shoes went into a cardboard box left over from the move. After a year I found some unfinished book cases on sale that looked promising as shoe boxes. With some paint and cut pieces of plastic runner, they are looking fine.

Recently colors have been entering the house covering the super white walls and greyish trim left by the previous owners. Roman shades have appeared in the library, our bedroom and stairwell, and the entryway. Doug has painted the hall and garden room a lovely yellow (Sherwin Williams banana cream) and sage green (Sherwin Williams garden sage) is appearing here and there.

Mud room toward garden room view (note shade in top center, a pretty green to gold stripe). I got all the shades from Smith + Noble. A great designer came out and showed me fabric samples right in the house. He did all the measurements too. It was terrific. I had been having a lot of trouble going to stores and trying to picture what the fabrics would look like in the house.

Garden room close up with yellow walls and sage table. The desk is from my childhood bedroom.

Yellow walls also enliven the hallway, with the beautiful mirror my mom got me in Italy.

And the upstairs portion of the hallway showing the bedroom/stairwell roman shades.

The house is feeling so much warmer with these colors although the outdoors is very cold and snowy! This picture was taken before the last 16 inch storm. And another heavy storm is forecast for Wednesday.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Moved by the Music

Last sunday's service at our Unitarian Universalist church honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with music. It included 8 songs. Each one spurs the singers or listeners to action either to protest evil, war, and violence or to promote peace. I loved this service I hope it inspires action in me.

We all sang If I Had a Hammer, Where Have All the Flowers Gone and Turn Turn Turn by Pete Seeger.

One of the hymns was My Life Flows on in Endless Song. It is a beautiful uplifting song well known and sung strongly by the congregation. Enya has a beautiful version found here with Lord of the Rings Elf photos (a bit kooky, but I love it).
Here are the words to the final verse:

When tyrants tremble as they hear the bells of freedom ringing,
When friends rejoice both far and near how can I keep from singing
To prison cell and dungeon vile our thoughts to them are winging;
When friends by shame are undefiled how can I keep from singing.

The choir did a great job singing the spiritual Wade in the Water. If I close my eyes I can see Alvin Ailey's dance Revelations when I hear this song.

Here's the portion of Alvin Ailey's Revelations to Wade in the Water. Seeing this work live is life changing. One of my dreams is that I could have been present when this dance was presented for the first time. One of my best memories is the first time I saw the dance live. I went with my best friend from high school whose father was a cellist in the orchestra. We sat high in the sloped seats of City Center (or was it the Joyce Theater) in NYC. I was overwhelmed by the music, the dance, the passion of the audience. My body was echoing the movements. If you'd like, check out some videos of other portions of the dance, This is beautiful all stillness, strength and poise especially dance beginning at 5:45. For power, jumps, muscles and celebration try This! Imagine the entire audience clapping and cheering and swaying through that dance that begins at minute 7. Or even better, SEE IT LIVE!

Finally, John Lennon's Imagine was performed. The piano was played by the church's music director and the Minister read the lyrics to the music. A church where the minister can suggest that the world would be a more peaceful place without religion is the church for me.

And this is what you find when you spend a snowy freezing day searching the web: Bill Clinton singing Imagine with Jewish and Arab children. Here.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow Day

Like the rest of the eastern US, here come the snow photos.

No school today (very rare in this town). Doug worked from home too. We measured a good 14" around the house, but there were definite areas where wind blew it higher. The snow was heavy and wet. It stuck to the trees in a beautiful way. Walked up the hill to play with friends. Hot chocolate with peppermint flavored Christmas marshmallow Peeps! Homemade broccoli soup for dinner.

It's as quiet as it looks.

Until the kids come out to play.

They are getting so grown up. Both my kids are now "double digits".

Renee with her friend G. You can see the snow falling and the wind blowing.

Thanks for clearing the steps, Jack.

Love how this snow sticks to the trees.

Doug measures the late afternoon accumulation.

And remember this little light brown cow:

Here she is less than a year later...

Hope you are having a fun and restful snow day too.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Shopping and Feminism (?)

Malls overwhelm me... the climate control, the artificial light, the thumping music booming out of Abercrombie, the absence of time. I find my way into them only a couple times a year. The cheapskate in me usually has me checking the sales after the holidays to pursue the few items that I think about long enough to search them out at the right price. Here are items I've been looking for -- now purchased at 50-75% off:

Frames for sepia toned pictures of the kids that I've wanted to hang since we moved into this house and candles for the old fireplace we will never use (we have a newer one that doesn't need chimney work).

The frames hang over the end of the daybed where my mom sleeps when she visits. I hope she'll like the kids watching over her. You can see the origami dresses my daughter decorated the room with in the window.

And in the fireplace, 3 pillar candles. I got the idea at a Bed and Breakfast we visited last November. They had a candelabra of tea candles burning in a fireplace and I thought it looked beautiful. I'm doing a little decorating in my living room to get ready for hosting my book club. I've been going to other people's homes for the book club for nearly a year. It is finally time for me to pick the book and host.

I think I've picked one that will foster a great discussion. Big Girls Don't Cry by Rebecca Traister.

It's a review of the 2008 Presidential election from a feminist perspective. It discusses how the media treated Hillary, Barak, Sarah and Michelle. It shows behind the scenes intrigue and nasty chauvinistic coverage. Media women are conflicted. Gloria Steinem's incisive take proves that she's seen it all. SNL's female comedians skewer the candidates with their own words and prove that at least in the media, women are making their mark.

Katie Couric raises the fascinating question of whether Sarah Palin is a feminist. She is torn. After all, here's Sarah who quickly went from mayor to governor to vice-presidential candidate not after her kids were grown, but while being a mother to 4 then 5 kids. With her supportive husband and impressive career, isn't this what 1970's feminists hoped would happen. That women could be mothers and have a great career. Meanwhile she was not in favor of abortion rights and promoted republican economic policies that would hurt many women and middle class families.

But perhaps feminism has made strides in this case based on a quote in the book by the late NY Congresswomen Bella Abzug "The goal is not to see a female Einstein become an assistant professor. We want a woman schlemiel to get promoted as quickly as a male schlemiel."

But let's end the book discussion on a more positive note. The book left me with very warm feelings for Hillary Clinton. Her efforts to win votes as a Democratic woman by moving to the center and trying to be the toughest candidate may have cost her the Presidency, but as the Secretary of State she is making her mark.

At a hearing on international health funding she testified, "When I think about the suffering I have seen, of women around the world-- I've been in hospitals in Brazil where half the women were enthusiastically and joyfully greeting their babies and the other half were fighting for their lives against botched abortions, I've been in African countries where 12- and 13-year-old girls are bearing children. I have been in Asian countries where the denial of family planning consigns women to lives of oppression and hardship... We happen to think that family planning is an important part of women's health, and reproductive health includes access to abortions."

And she takes a feminist message to places around the world where it is least welcome. In a press conference with Afghanistan's President Karzai, she challenged a law about legislating the frequency of sex in marriage. "I will also reinforce, as I have on many occasions that this is not just me speaking, but this is the American government speaking. That we do not believe either Afghanistan or Pakistan can achieve lasting progress without the full participation of all your citizens including women and girls."


I'll let you know how the book group discussion goes... and I hope they like the new candles.
Aaahhhh, the serious and silly side of being an American women.