It’s Monday morning! Energetic music is needed. When I was in high school, I chose to study Russia in my World History class. For the next six years, I would read Russian novels and nonfiction, sit in the front row to hear Yevgeny Yevtushenko recite his poetry, and listen to Russian music. I was fascinated. One of my great loves from that time is Sergei Prokofiev’s March from “Love for Three Oranges.” Here it is played by the San Francisco Symphony at the 2000 Proms, with Michael Tilson Thomas conducting. Happy Monday!
I am grateful for the unexpected. Dear friends brought this Christmas cactus to our house two winters ago. It bloomed last Thanksgiving, surprising us (because it’s called a Christmas cactus). And then, much to our delight, we noticed the buds turning hot pink the first week of April. Now it is a Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Thank-You-for-Spring Cactus.
The Poetry of Puppetry! A roomful of enrapt children listened to the poetry of Langston Hughes, Jack Prelutsky, Shel Silverstein, and many more poets read by a caterpillar, a polar bear in a refrigerator, a talking wall, a mail snail (oh, the delight of receiving mail), and other characters brought to life by the Loki Puppet Players at St. Paul’s Central Library. I am grateful for the gifts that talented librarian Kim Faurot and her fellow puppeteers share with all of us. They’re performing this show three more times in April. If you’re near St. Paul, you’ll want to go (and maybe bring a child or two with you).
One of my favorite childhood memories is lying on my back on the hillside in Sherwood Forest (not that one), watching the clouds move across the sky, identifying their shapes, observing them change shape into something else yet again. The warmth of the sun, the rough, grass-and-moss-covered earth under my back, the drone of insects, the choral songs of the birds … I am looking forward to summer. My mother taught me to watch the clouds. I am grateful.
Last night we watched Episode 1 of Season 3 of The Art Detectives. Art expert Dr. Bendor Grosvenor and social historian Emma Dabiri examined what was thought to be a copy of a Rembrandt self-portrait, hanging on the wall of Knightshayes Court in Devon, UK.
Bendor walks us through the scientific investigation and consultations with experts to find out if, instead, it is a study, done by Rembrandt himself, for the final painting.
Emma interviews various people and travels to pertinent locations to place the painting in its time and culture. (We learned that the last owner was one of Britain’s first female golf champions, not widely accepted by male golfers.)
For us, these episodes are an hour of absorbing art and social history. I’m grateful that this kind of learning opportunity is available. We learned more about Rembrandt than we’ve ever known before! And was it an original or a copy? Suspenseful.
I am grateful every day for the work of Brandon Stanton, photographer and world-changer, on Humans of New York. He provides a connection to people around the world, seeing the good and the caring and the every-person-is-unique stories that help me maintain my positive beliefs about our globe’s inhabitants. The contributions Brandon has made are stellar … I highly recommend making his Facebook posts a part of your day.
I am grateful every day for this amazing man, my partner in every adventure, my light in the dark, this kind and generous spirit. Happy birthday, Steven Palmquist!
Did you read album liner notes? (I know, what’s an album?) Many of my album covers are worn out because I read through those notes over and over, especially those that had lyrics for all of the songs. I appreciated knowing who the musicians were for each song. I used to imagine their studio sessions and how they interacted. If you look up “liner notes” online, you’ll find articles mourning how liner notes placed the album in a specific time and place. They were recording history for the future. I even dreamed of writing liner notes when I grew up. I’m grateful for the people who did write them … and the artists who made them beautiful. CDs often included liner notes (in miniature) but now, with streaming music, we need a website that has readable images of all of those liner notes of decades past … and going forward.
I eagerly anticipate each of Lisa See‘s new books because she’s a compelling writer and she fearlessly explores a history which is her own, but unfamiliar. From the very first, with On Gold Mountain: The One Hundred Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family in 1995, to her most recent, The Island of Sea Women, I am grateful for her books because they open my eyes and my heart. (She’s also very good at getting the word out and building a community of readers.)
One of the best parts of the internet for me is the community’s contribution of historical photos. I enjoy the reminders of my own past, a look into a past I don’t remember, and the inspiration those photos provide. I haven’t taken many photos in my lifetime, so I’m grateful for the people who do. I often wonder what prompted someone to take a picture of something offbeat. The photo below? Dayton’s Oak Grill, no date. But look at the signage above the door: “Men’s Oak Grill: Ladies Admitted with Male Escort.” I had no idea.