Tag Archives: postaday

Curves of Chihuly Glass

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Butterfly and Chihuly at Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Columbus, Ohio.

This is a lucky butterfly, settling in the midst of the curves of a work by renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly.  I spotted her at the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Columbus Ohio.

With blooms busting’ out all over, this botanical garden is beautiful from the start.  Then add a butterfly garden with installations of Chihuly Glass.  The curving, colorful forms of glass serve to draw attention to the curves and colors of nature that surround them, heightening  our awareness of nature’s amazing artistry.

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This is the artwork in its entirety.

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The Humor and Home of James Thurber

Cartoons and funny articles in a style that is spare and gentle.IMG_1604

James Thurber was one of the most beloved humorists of the last century and his cartoons were regularly featured in The New Yorker for over 30 years.  I recently visited his boyhood home in Columbus, Ohio, where the stories about Thurber’s childhood explained a lot about his gentle and quirky humor, particularly the tales about his delightfully cooky mother and his love of dogs.

Thurber’s drawings are spare, simple black lines and experts speculate that it may be due in part to an eye injury he received as a child. If your knowledge of Thurber’s work is limited to “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” and its recent FullSizeRendermovie incarnation, I suggest reading The Thurber Carnival, a collection of his short stories and drawings for a better look at the author/illustrator. For example, one of my favorite of Thurber’s canine characters is Muggs, in “The Dog That Bit People.” Muggs, a really crabby Airedale, was one of the family dogs (Thurber owned 53 during his life). Muggs bit everyone except Mrs. Thurber who always defended him.  Thurber writes, “Mother used to send a box of candy every Christmas to the people the Airedale bit. The list finally contained forty or more names.”  Like most authors’ homes, Thurber’s house offers a view of life in a slower, though with Muggs around, not necessarily a safer era.

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James Thurber’s home in Columbus, Ohio.

Apart from the stories and drawings, one of Thurber’s most important legacies is the Thurber Prize for American Humor that is now awarded in his name from the non-profit that runs the house and the many Thurber House programs for writers. Winners have included Jon Stewart, David Sedaris,Calvin Trillin and most recently Minnesotan Julie Schumaker for her hilarious book Dear Committee Members.  See my article in the Minnesota Women’s Press on Julie Schumacher.

Home Office Habits

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When you work at home, no one knows you’re eating chocolate and butterscotch chips.

“On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” That’s the caption of the famous New Yorker cartoon in which two dogs are sitting in front of a computer. Similarly, I would say, “If you work at home, no one knows you’re still wearing your pajamas.” You can present whatever image you want to the world and nobody know the difference because there are no witnesses. I work at home, I know.

But now, my husband is going to work from home, too.

I was about 99 percent comfortable with that concept until I read Ben Huberman’s “Witness” challenge today and I’m starting to worry. My spouse usually comes home from his downtown office and asks about my day. I whistle, wipe my brow and say, “Wow, really busy.” I stagger through the kitchen, lean on the counter and say, “You just wouldn’t believe it.” I embellish about what interesting people I talked to, writing projects in the works, and the burden of deadlines, then quickly change the conversation.

In my own defense, I must say, I don’t spend the day in pajamas. I spring out of bed, get dressed and eat breakfast. Then, bidding my husband “Have a great day!” I sprint upstairs to my office, a converted guest room that I call “world headquarters.” My assistant, Mr. Macduff, follows me. That’s my dog, Duffy. Half in jest, I’m creating a facade like the false fronts on the buildings in frontier towns, made to make them look bigger and fancier than they were.

I do my best work in the morning so I really do stick with it until at least noon. But studies have shown that we all have a limited reservoir of self-discipline–seriously, it’s not just me. My reservoir usually runs out after lunch. That’s when I daydream, flip through magazines I’d like to write for or succumb to the siren call of a sale at Macy’s.

But now someone else will be here to see that I’m not working like a dog all day.  He’ll witness all the weird things I do, learn that I listen to strange New Age music, find me rummaging through the pantry cupboard for a few chocolate chips to eat. He’ll see me snoring on the couch, catching the occasional view of “Ellen” and he’ll be standing there when I try to sneak in with the bags from Macy’s. I’m so busted.

Yet, when I think about it, the situation works both ways when two people work at home. What will I witness? This is a man who I think will happily work in his undies. He’s inclined to talk to his computer and gripes at length while searching for affordable airline reservations. (So much swearing, so little time.) Worse yet, he’ll probably beat me to the leftovers I planned to eat for lunch. Clearly, boundaries must be drawn.

So, friends, readers and fellow bloggers, I implore you to send your advice on how to maintain a happy home (office). Write them in the comments box next to this post. Please respond quickly before my cover is completely blown.

Fabulous Holiday Windows in New York City

Architecture was the theme of this window at Bergdorf Goodman in New York City.
Architecture was the theme of this window at Bergdorf Goodman in New York City.

It’s the time of year when retailers ramp up for the holidays with ornate holiday displays.  Nowhere in the U.S. is the holiday decor more fantastic than in New York City.  And, in New York you’ll find the most fabulous of all in the windows of Bergdorf Goodman.

I’ve been lucky enough for the last several years to be in New York during the holiday season.  The corner of 5th and 58th is always my first destination to see what wonders they’ve come up with for the year. (I also enjoy touring the wonders inside the store, but window gazing is much more economical.)

Fabulously ornate windows at Bergdorf Goodman. The subject of this window: Literature. How many authors can you find.
Fabulously ornate windows at Bergdorf Goodman. The subject of this window: Literature. How many authors can you find?

The theme for last year’s windows was the arts, including architecture, theater, painting, music, and my favorite, literature–all absolutely and delightfully over the top. The Creators Project blog has an article about last year’s windows.

If you go this year, send me a picture of Bergdorf’s windows.  And, be sure to read about my literary walking tour of mid-town Manhattan.

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New Mexico Chilis: Know Your Boundaries

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Sometimes you need to set your own boundaries, know your limitations.  That’s especially the case with chilis.

They may merely add flavor to cooking or set your mouth ablaze in a manner that will send you running for the icewater (and have other repercussions, too, if you know what I mean.)

I was in New Mexico a couple of weeks ago where chilis–red and green–are in just about everything you eat.  Fall is the height of chili season there and you’ll find them piled in farmers’ markets and smell them roasting, “New Mexico aromatherapy,” at the market or on the roadside. You’ll find them in restaurants any time of year.  When ordering, your server may ask, “Red or green?”  By that she means the color of chilis you want.  If the answer in both, it’s common to say “Christmas.”

Some chilis hot, some not.   In some cases it’s like playing roulette–one in ten is hot, you just don’t know until you eat it.  Either way, they’re beautiful to look at.