Thursday, July 31, 2008

Klezmer Music

I forgot to say last night that I adore Klezmer music.

This photo has nothing to do with the subject, but aren't they cute?

Klezmer, translated from Hebrew means "klei zemer" (musical instruments). Wikipedia says "Klezmer is easily identifiable by its characteristic expressive melodies, reminiscent of the human voice, complete with laughing and weeping." Ari Davidow describes Klezmer music by saying it "refers to the conglomeration of Greek and Central/Eastern European music played at Jewish celebrations. A pure klezmer band has no vocalist--it just turns up the volume and swings the music faster. Unlike rock, or African-influenced music, klez is made for dancing while holding hands, or dancing with a partner. It doesn't bounce, it flows. It swings, it cries. Traditionally, there wouldn't even be a drummer (and, in fact, the difference between a modern "Bar Mitzvah band" and a good band of klezmorim often relies on just that distinction. Bar Mitzvah bands have drummers. Klezmorim create a motion and feel that doesn't fit easily into 4/4, and certainly aren't comfortable with "a one and uh two". It's no accident that when Jewish musicians abandoned the "old world" music and moved into the American idiom, many of them (most notably Benny Goodman) moved into jazz."

Try listening to this one from the Budapest Klezmer Band. Its fantastic.

Or this one featuring Itzhak Perlman.

What about the North Strand Klezmer Band?

This music form makes me happy, probably one of the reasons I am crazy about Fiddler On The Roof. What do you think?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Most Embarrassing Music

Willow from Life at Willow Manor challenged me to name 5 songs that I am embarrassed to admit that I like. The problem is that I'm not really ashamed to own up to my attraction to these tunes. I've never marched to the same drummer as most of my peers when it comes to my taste in music. So I guess I'm used to the shame. Anyway, let's play!

The rules:
1. Post the link to the person who tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2. Share 5 songs you are embarrassed to admit to others that you like and tell why.
3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post.

Click on songs for a listen on YouTube.

Poke Salad Annie by Tony Joe White always inspires me to sing along. "Gators got your granny" is a lyric that has no equal.

Starlight Express by Andrew Lord Webber-weird but wonderful. It is the story of a toy train come to life. The actors perform the play on roller skates. I admit it, I love the music.

I Got You Babe by Sonny and Cher is classic. How could I not love this one? It may be sappy, but that's okay. Love is forever least until Cher gets tired of Sonny's overbearing control over her every move.

Grandma's Feather Bed by John Denver is good ole toe-tapping fun. Why, there's forty-leven reasons to love this song.

If I Were A Rich Man from Fiddler on the Roof. I unabashedly admit that I love every line, every note, every cluck and chuckle in this song. Make fun of me all you want but I will never, never turn my back on my love for this tune.

Mark Chagall, The Violinist 1911

I tag Museswings, Nanatrish, DeeDee, Pat and Julie King. Now its your turn to humiliate yourselves and be sure to share the love when you finish!

Do Clothes Really Make The Woman?

I confess, I can't stop buying children's books, even though I no longer have any small children. But then, I'm not buying them for the kids...they're for me. These two are 50 years apart in age, but the theme of each is the same....the story of clothes.

The Story Book of Clothes 1933: The illustrations in this volume are beautiful, colorful and illustrate countries and customs as well as the clothes of the regions.

And this charmer from 1971 goes into detail about all aspects of costume from head to toe, underwear to outerwear.

It is the prospect of finding prizes like these that keep me shuffling through the shelves in thrift and antique stores.

In a similiar vein, I will happily be watching another episode of Project Runway tonight at 8 pm central time. I am completely taken with this show. The thing that really fascinates me about it is the thought of being given a challenge, limited time to plan and shop for materials and still being able to produce fabulous garments. How do they do it? I've taken a 3-dimensional art class. Believe me when I is not easy to be creative on demand, to make something gorgeous out of electrical wire or rubber gloves or garbage or solo cups!

I mean if you were taken to a grocery store, given some money and 20 minutes to buy everything you would need to make a garment, could you do it?

Check this dress is made entirely of solo cups!

This is the winning garment from this particular challenge. It is made using vacuum cleaner bags which are dyed with RIT dye and Clorax. The bodice is coffee filters. The waistband is decorated with thumb tacks.

In last week's challenge the contestants had to make cocktail dresses from whatever their models brought back from a trip to the fabric store. No time to plan ahead or give tips to the models before they were wisked off to shop.

This is the winning dress.

I think people are becoming interested in sewing again partly due to shows like these. Like all reality shows, it is full of drama, but the creative challenges are what keep me coming back.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Eyes Say It All

A man's feet should be planted in his country, but his eyes should survey the world. George Santayana

Nature and Books belong to the eyes that see them. Emerson

Originality is simply a pair of fresh eyes.
Thomas Wentworth Higginson

Few cases of eyestrain have been developed by looking on the
bright side of things. Author Unknown

Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground. Theodore Roosevelt

All photos courtesy of Flickr

I just thought it was time for an amusing interlude. Have a great day!

Sunday, July 27, 2008


While vacationing in Great Britain 10 years ago, I bought tea towels as souvenirs for the folks at home. But because I loved each one so much, I ended up keeping at least half of them. One in particular was my favorite. My daughter in law suggested that I frame it and so I did. Imagine my surprise later when browsing through a volume of Gardeners Art Through the Ages and discovering that my favorite tea towel was a copy of a famous piece of stitchery sewn shortly after 1066 and the Battle of Hastings.

I avidly read everything Gardner's had to say about my tea towel. Later, while a student of art history I choose the Bayeux Tapestry as the subject of the required term paper.

If you are not already familiar with this 230 foot long by 20 inch high piece of linen artwork then please allow me to introduce you. While it is known as a tapestry it is in reality embroidered. It was commissioned by Bishop Odo, the French half-brother of William the Conqueror. It is widely agreed that even though the Frenchman, Odo commission the work, English hands did the sewing and probably the design as well. After 900 years, this embroidery is the only remaining example of its kind. It is treasured for its historic as well as it's artistic value.

As a historic document, it is a source of information on the detail of everyday life during the medieval period. It offers a rich source of pictorial and written information about the events leading up to the Battle of Hastings. It records information about armor, boats, clothes and even the hair styles of the English vs the Norman soldiers, the appearance of Halley's Comet in the spring of 1066 and Westminster Abbey, etc.

The hand of God, pointing down towards the recently built Westminster Abbey,
symbolizes its consecration which took place on December 28, 1065.

But while the English designer followed his command from Odo to create a retelling of the events that lead to the Norman conquest of England, some art historians believe that the designer also included subtle indications that, while carrying out the letter of Odo's commission, he put an English interpretation on certain key events.

This panel shows a group of people watching Halley's Comet as it passes over London. In the following scene the appearance of the evil omen in the heavens is reported to King Harold.

The figures and designs along the borders of the Tapestry have long puzzled historians as to their exact meaning. Some believe that these mythical creatures deserve a deeper look. The artist used combinations of animals from contemporary fables of the day. These figures may have been a way for the designer to comment on the action taking place in the main field. The meaning would have been clear for the English viewer since he was familiar with the connotations connected with the fables the figures represented. For the French viewer these meanings may have meant nothing. It is not clear what these motifs are meant to portray, but it is clear that they are not decorative only.

William the Conqueror crosses the Channel with his ships and men.

It is certainly an intriguing thought that a conquered people would attempt to include their own interpretation of the event, that was to change the rule of England for the next 300 years of Norman domination, in the Tapestry that they created.

This panel depicts scenes of the battle in which King Harold's brothers are slain in
hand to hand combat. Notice the fallen men that lie in the bottom border.

Embroidered on the last panel are the words "and the English fled". Many believe that
while this is the last remaining panel, there was once a final scene showing Normans
occupying English towns while the inhabitants pay homage to William as King.

Today, you can visit the Bayeux Tapestry in the town of Bayeux in Normandy, France.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Mad About Tea Towels

For the past 10 years I have been mad about tea towels. Recently, I have noticed that tea towels aren't just for your old granny anymore. They have evolved into an art form for the kitchen, into eye candy for your home. Young artists have reinvented the humble linen tea towel and are using it as a canvas to display their clean graphic artwork in an affordable and utilitarian way.

Nicholas Gallery in Cincinnati is currently displaying towels contributed by contemporary artists the world over.

Etsy shop ower MrPS named this screen printed towel Ice Cream Lollies. MrPS is a resident of the UK and has many other designs for sale in his/her ? Etsy shop.

Heather of Skinny LaMinx is an artist who lives in Capetown, South Africa whose tea towel designs I have long admired. She just announced she has sold 1000 towels in her Etsy store. Heather used her love of 60s era coffee mugs to design this towel. If forced to choose, I would say that this is my favorite of her designs. Her wildflower designs are very beautiful too.

Heather's website features the vintage work of Pat Albeck, who she calls the "Queen of the Tea Towel." Albeck's website features her work from the 50s right up to today. Be sure to check her out if you love the genre.

Remember those hand stitched towels that our mothers used. Well, embroidery is making a come back and many vintage patterns like your mother sewed can be found at Sublime Stitching. My mother had the bee's of the week...a little bee performed some type of domestic chore for each day of the week. Mom cross stitched these on towels and put them away in her hope chest to await her first home.

A wide variety of charming towels printed on beautiful fabrics can always be found at Anthropologie. I have been known to haunt their sales looking for bargains on tea towels. The colorful way they put fabrics together inspired the design of the aprons I recently made for my granddaughters.

Alicia Paulson of Posy Gets Cosy has redesigned traditional days of the week embroidery patterns by bringing the design up to date for the modern home. She offers her patterns as a free download here.

Whole Flickr Groups are devoted to tea towel love. Check them out here.

So if you are mad about tea towels like me, then please explore all of these options and enjoy!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pay It Foward

A few days ago Pat from Mille Fiori Favoriti presented me with this award and also challenged me to list six random things about myself. I am afraid I have already divulged most of my deep dark secrets or quirky facts, but I will give it a try.

  1. I was suspended from school when I was in High School for cheating. A boy I liked (don't they always get us in trouble) and I had the same history teacher but at different times. My class was first. On one particular test day, I left class and wrote down all the questions and answers I could remember and gave it to him to study...he used it as a cheat sheet. And got caught of course. The teacher recognized the handwriting and the guilty party (Cathy Early) was called down to the guidance counselor's office. When accused of the crime she vehemently denied ever writing anything for him. Finally my friend confessed that it wasn't Cathy, but rather me who had written the paper in question. Why were they so easily confused about who had written the cheat sheet....since I liked Cathy's style of handwriting, I had spent the whole year practicing writing like her....don't you think this makes me a successful forger?
  2. I had a crush on Tarzan when I was young. Johnny Weissmuller was my favorite Tarzan. Although I put a lot of practice into it my Tarzan yell, it was never as good as Carol Burnett's.
  3. I would like to have a collection of doll heads. They would make me smile and remember how mean I was to my little sister. Dolls made in the 50s and 60s were attached to their bodies by rubber bands. It freaked my sister out for me to pull their heads up and expose their I loved to scare her this way.
  4. I was jealous of my sister because I thought she was the pretty one....her hair is dark and her eyes are brown to my blue eyes and dirty blonde/brown hair. Maybe this is why I liked to be mean to her....hmmmmm.
  5. I used to have a recurring dream all the time in which I fell down on the steps of our church and couldn't get up. Does this make me the original "I've fallen and can't get up" lady?
  6. My online nickname is the nick that my family used to call me when I was 3 or 4.
Pat also awarded all of her readers with the You Make Me Smile Award. I want to say that all of my readers make me smile also. So I'm giving you this award too!


The air is as warm as bath water today.... soft as baby clothes.... enveloping me with sleep.... teasing me to close my take a nap. I stretch my legs. I close my eyes. I dream. I dream of queens and mothers with their children in arms. Softly my dreams blow by....I drift....I head jerks. I'm awake. Lunch hour is over.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Tour Continues

If you remember I explained that the Japanese gardens can't be seen from Monet's house or from his Clos Normand. Apparently there is a busy road that cuts between the two gardens. The lush landscaping completely blocks the view of it so there is nothing modern to distract the visitor. Immediately upon exiting the walking tunnel that burrows under the road, you will be surrounded by weeping willows, thick greenery and climbing wisteria vines.

There is a beaten pathway that will take you on a meandering walk around the lake. Every step or so the vegetation will open to reveal wonderful vistas of lily pad filled water.

Look closely in the picture above and you will see the famous green bridge that was a feature of so many of his waterlily paintings.

And here is a close up of the bridge with some of my traveling buddies posing for me.

Willow branches hang low as if they want to trail in the water alongside the lily pads.

Not much seems to have changed about the waterlilies since Monet completed his paintings does it?.

This rowboat is a copy of the one Monet's children used to amuse themselves by rowing about the lake.

The following is copied from an account Francois Thiebault-Sisson gave in June of 1927.

"As we strolled he described how he had put the whole thing together. From a completely empty meadow devoid of trees but watered by a twisting, babbling branch of the river Epte he had created a truly fairytale-like garden, digging a large pond in the middle and planting on its hanks exotic trees and weeping willows, whose branches stretched their long arms at the water's edge. Around the pond he had laid out paths arched with trellises of greenery, paths that twisted and inter-crossed to give the illusion of a vast park, and in the pond he had planted literally thousands of water-lilies, rare and choice varieties in every colour of the prism, from violet, red, and orrange to pink, lilac, and mauve. And, finally, across the Epte at the point where it flows out of the pond, he had constructed a little, rustic, hump-backed bridge like the ones depicted in eighteenth-century gouaches and on toile du Jouy. All the money he had made since paying off his property and the costs of the repairs and new buildings he had made to improve it, once he had felt able to let himself go, had gone into this costly fantasy worthy of a wealthy ancien regime landowner. However, as he remarked complacently, the canvases inspired by his "last love" had more than compensated for the money he had laid out."

I hope you have enjoyed going along on this little tour with me. I have certainly enjoyed remembering my trip.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Touring the House

Time to continue with our tour of Monet's home and garden. These pictures were taken the last week of June 2002. That summer was unusually hot in Europe. We were told that the flowers in the garden were in bloom ahead of their usual schedule.

There is a large bed of geraniums in front of the house.

Flowering vines and climbing roses cover much of the facade of the house.

Oriental porcelain jars, overflowing with hydrangeas, sit on the porch.

While the gardens are a riot of color, the inside of Monet's home was quite surprising. The interior spaces were colorful, but each room was decorated in what could be called almost monochromatic. Rather than try to explain I will let you see for yourselves.

Oops, I forgot what this room is. Sorry.

Monet's bedroom

Looking out the bedroom windows onto the gardens.

This is the living room. If you look you will notice paintings on all the walls.
Monet was a collector of Japanese woodcuts. They hang all over his home.

The library, I think.

His yellow dining room.

The kitchen with its famous blue Delft tiles.

No photography is allowed inside the home. They do sell postcards of the interiors. Unfortunately, I only bought two. I have spent the last week or so scouring the internet for interior shots. Take my word...there aren't any. I found a few pictures which I used for the tour, but they are also from postcards. I have done a little research trying to learn more about the unusual way the inside of the home is decorated. No luck.

If you care to read more about Monet's Japanese prints, then you will enjoy this website.

Tomorrow we will tour the Japanese garden and see the famous green bridge that is featured in so many of the artist's paintings.