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Learning Through Culture

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Clean as a Whistle

whistle

May 20, 2024

I'm sitting by an open window as I am writing this article about household cleaning, and I see a large white truck with blue letters parked at the curb by my home. On the side of the truck are printed the words  Environmental Services, Spill response. Spill response? Why next to my home?! Why is that truck there?  I have no idea. I’d better just get back to my article to grapple with a tamer non-toxic subject: household cleaning. While I don't think your house needs the services of the  clean environmental response truck, perhaps you might benefit from some tips on making your home clean.

What are the chores we need to do to keep our house clean?  What supplies do we use to do the job?

Dusting

Dust collects on all horizontal surfaces and even on vertical surfaces.  We need to remove the dust.Dusting should be done before vacuuming or sweeping.  We don't want to shake dust onto a newly cleaned floor! Take the items off the surfaces to be dusted:  shelves, tables, etc.  Using either a dust cloth or a feather duster, brush the dust off the item.

Then, using either a dust cloth or a feather duster, wipe the dust off the surfaces.  You may spray a light layer of furniture polish on your dust cloth, but this doesn't need to be done often, if at all.

Put the items back on the surfaces.

Take your feather duster outside and shake it out, but never in the house!  If you used a dust cloth, put it in the laundry.

If you have window blinds or shutters, you can take a vacuum cleaner to remove dust.

Vacuuming

Vacuuming is good for carpets and large floors.  It's also good for dry spills, such as potting soil, flour, or crumbs.  You may use any kind of vacuum cleaner you like.  Follow the directions that come with yours.  Make sure you use the right tools and attachments for the job you're doing.

Before you begin, do a pickup in the room.  It's hard to vacuum a room with stuff lying around on the floors.

When possible, move furniture off to the side, then vacuum the floor where it was.

Check your vacuum cleaner bag or filter to see if it's full.  Empty or replace it before it gets too full.

Do you want to do all your dusting and vacuuming in one day?  All your dusting one day and vacuuming another?  Or dusting and vacuuming one or two rooms per day?

 

Sweeping

Sweeping is good for dry small, bare floors, uncarpeted stairs, or if there's no vacuum.  Sweeping is done with a broom.  If there is wetness or stickiness on the floor, wipe it up and dry it off before sweeping.

Make sure you have a good, undamaged broom.  It also should not have any stickiness.

When sweeping, pull the broom towards yourself with medium strokes, holding it somewhat firmly against the floor.  Draw the dirt into little piles, then join the piles together.

Using a dustpan and either your broom or a little whisk broom, brush all the dirt into the dustpan.  Dump it into the garbage, without spilling it onto the floor.

 

Mopping

Mopping is good for bathroom and kitchen floors.  Hardwood floors can also be mopped with proper cleaner.  (Murphy's Oil Soap is good for wood.)  If you don't have a mop, you can use a sponge while down on your knees.

Remove  the items from the room, when possible. First sweep the floor to remove all loose dirt. Fill a bucket with hot water and disinfectant.  Read the product label. Using a mop you can squeeze, plunge the mop into the bucket.  Squeeze out excess water.

Using back and forth strokes, press somewhat firmly down on the floor.  Frequently plunge the mop into the water in order to wash with as clean water as possible. Dump mop water into the toilet or outdoors when done.  Put away supplies.

General Cleaning

It's a good idea to wash surfaces frequently to keep clean and germ free.  Here are some supplies good for various jobs.

A sponge and disinfectant cleaner are good for just about all cleaning jobs.

 

Use window cleaner and paper towels or newspapers for windows.  A squeegee also works. Use dishwashing liquid for hand washing; dishwasher detergent for machine washing.  Dry dishes with a clean towel and put away.

A dust mop is good to wipe a bare floor that has dust rather than crumbs on it.  Shake  it outdoors before putting it away.

Scouring cleansers are good for sinks, tubs, and toilets.

Keep all your supplies in a smart place, stored away from sight (always from children!), yet near the area you need to clean.  It's hard to want to clean a room when you can't get your supplies.

Keep garbage bags on hand and replace them regularly.

That's it! following these methods will help keep your house clean as a whistle.

Organization vs. Procrastination in Your Household Space

procrastination

April 18, 2024

Taking care of your household space is a challenge whether you live in a dorm room, a house, or a mansion; whether you live alone or in a family.  It takes skill, practice, time, determination, and self control to learn it. Whether you do it as a man, woman or even a teen, or as a full time job or you operate in survival mode because you have another job, there are certain principles you can follow to make it work for you.

Sayings

Use these sayings to help you learn the art of housekeeping.

Start with this first saying:

If you procrastinate, you are shooting yourself in the foot.

That means you are causing a problem for yourself.

But what is procrastination? 

Procrastination 

From my years of experience I believe that avoiding procrastination is the most powerful tool for succeeding in your household management.

Procrastination is when you have an unpleasant task that needs to be done and you leave it usually for much later, perhaps waiting for the unpleasant task to go away by itself  if possible. (It's amazing how easy it is to talk ourselves into believing that.) See if you can evaluate which of these  sayings relate to the concept of avoiding procrastination. 

Let's try another saying.

Do I really need this? 

Ask yourself this when you are going to buy something or you are deliberating about whether to keep an existing possession. Also ask this when you are tripping over something or always moving it out of the way.

You can even go through closets and drawers every month or two to see what you  can give or throw away or donate to charity.

Furthermore, whenever you enter a room, find one thing you can tidy or improve.

 

Handle it once, also known as Don't put it down, Put it away.

When you get mail, bring something into the house, or use something, don't put it down. Instead, put it away. If you get junk mail, throw it away. Yet another cable service ad? Get rid of it immediately along with the other junk mail. But if you receive an important piece of mail that you need to process, don't leave it on the counter or table. Put it in your inbox, folder, or bulletin board so you don't lose it and so you can take care of it soon. Besides, keeping important papers on the kitchen counter may run the risk of getting food on them. 

If you fold clothes, don't leave the piles around, put them away.

If you're walking up the stairs or through a room and you see something lying around, notice it, stop and pick it up to put away. If you just walk by it, you're making more work for yourself later. If it needs to be done, then do it!

If you always clean your house, you'll never have to clean your house. Try to get yourself a daily and weekly routine. If you can steadily keep things tidy, clean and in good repair, you will never have to do major cleaning seasonally, such as spring cleaning. Furthermore, if you don't clean something properly and thoroughly, you're really not cleaning it and you're making more work for yourself later. 

Then, when good weather comes, you can do special projects, like cleaning the attic, rearranging the furniture, or having a yard sale.

Beware distractions 

If you see something needs to be done and you don't feel like doing it, do it anyway and get it over with. Speak to your soul kindly but firmly.

Don't let yourself become distracted by pleasures or even other work.

If your friend or TV program calls, say no and stick with your job until you're done.

Break a big job down into little jobs.

This principle is actually one of the best cures for procrastination. This is because you are working away at the task, even if it's little by little.  If you do this, you will find yourself making progress. See what mini tasks you can do to reduce your big job. Make a plan for when and how you will do each step and stick to your steps.

Avoiding procrastination is such a powerful tool for achieving organization in your household space. Maintaining a consistent and a proactive pattern of organization affords you a lifestyle of freedom and success.

entertainment

The Value of Entertainment

April 2, 2024

People are crazy about public performances. We attend readings, lectures and speeches, skits, songfests, storytelling festivals, puppet shows, and plays. Whether held in a coliseum, the public library, in local schools or on college campuses, town square, on a platform in the park, in a professional theater in the Hamptons, at a festival –  what makes them special? Is it because they are fun, we learn something, or maybe a little bit of both?

There's such a variety of performance types and topics to entertain and inform us – humor, history, folk arts, science, fiction, politics, biography, sports, religion and philosophy, social issues, drama.

Why are public performances so important in our society?

Human beings possess a strong sense of creativity and expression.

Because of our nature, we love to compose, produce, and perform. People love creativity in all its forms. We create visual arts (painting, sculpture), music (vocal and instrumental), crafts (practical and aesthetic), drama (plays and mysteries), dance (entertainment and athletics), textile arts (clothing and quilts), creative writing, and much more. We love to create things!

We also love to share what we've made with others. Sometimes we have something specific that we want to offer, such as a fitting tribute to a hero or an impassioned drama with a moral. In that case, we produce a deliberate, planned performance. But sometimes we just want to express ourselves in any form, even singing in the shower. We can't help but express ourselves that way. Performance is instinctive. It's all because of a deep down sense that we have in our being of creating and then sharing.

We want to be on stage. This is why we seek to entertain.

We enjoy looking at or experiencing other people's creativity.

We're all so different. We recognize that everyone has a distinct gift – something completely unique to him. We like to admire what someone has made, like beautiful beadwork, or can do, like sing, act, or perform gymnastics. We may or may not have talent in the performing or decorative arts ourselves. But we still will stop and enjoy someone sing, imitate voices, do back flips, dance the hornpipe, create a character, or recite poetry with a passion. And even if we do have similar talents, for the most part, we aren't jealous, judgmental, or negative. We value what we see and hear, and are grateful for the moment to witness it. 

That's why we drop money in the hats on the sidewalk of street performers in Central Park or the sax player under the bridge behind the Met, hire clowns for a birthday party, or read storybooks to kids at the library. We may gain something that adds to our knowledge. Or, more likely, we just have fun. Either way, we grow. We are enriched by what others have done.

We love to laugh, cry, be scared, or get angry. We love to root for the hero and jeer at the villain. We want to see daring feats and hear exquisite strains of music. We enjoy being stirred by the passions of an orator and learn a new perspective on life. Even a mild-mannered person gets caught up in the hijinks of a slapstick team so he can enjoy a good laugh without anybody actually getting hurt. We want a release from the steady pressures of our everyday life. We're willing to suspend our disbelief so we can do just that.

We want to be in the audience. This is why we seek entertainment.

We crave connection with people.

Part of it has to do with just wanting to connect with the human spirit. We sense we have something in common with the person on stage – even if he's pretending to be someone else. (Do I see myself in the character he's portraying...?) Listening to the beautiful song of a soprano stirs something within – and we connect. 

We identify with oral poetry (even if we're not poets) because it's written and then performed for us by another person. We share hopes and griefs with the storyteller because he's sharing something from out of his experience – and touches something deep within as we relate to his tale.

All of these performers move us. And even if we're made uncomfortable for a time with the humanness of it all, that's what we want.

wadsworth
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Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

March 16, 2024

In the city of Hartford, the capital of Connecticut,  you can find a world-class museum sporting varied offerings of western art.

The Wadsworth consists of a collection of spacious galleries where you can enjoy the best of J.P. Morgan's art holdings posthumously donated in memory of his father. Within the same building you can see a sizable old-school salon setting as well as more modern galleries for an up-close and personal encounter with the art.

In case you are unfamiliar with the salon style display of art, let me explain it to you briefly. In the salon arrangement, paintings are arranged in a grid pattern on the wall of a large gallery. The lowest pictures are about hip height, while the highest  reach to the ceiling. By the way, the salon style was the  arrangement of paintings in Paris in the 1800s to display and judge paintings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beyond the works hanging  in the salon, the museum has on display many works of Modern art, portraiture, modern sculptures, French porcelain, and much more. 

For me, a standout work is the painting The Mirror Crack’d by William Holman Hunt, pictured here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another gallery hosts the Cabinet of Art & Curiosity which is a reconstructed example of an organizational method that was the precursor of what has become the modern museum. 

The museum staff are friendly and very eager to engage with you about the art. Also, there are several amenities for your comfort and enjoyment including a nice bistro cafe to enjoy your lunch.  Also for your comfort you may find rest on the benches placed all around the museum for the purpose of viewing the art as well as giving your feet and back a break.

In the lowest floor of the museum there is a cinema where films are scheduled for an additional fee and you can snack on popcorn. (Even if you are not planning on seeing the movie, you probably can't resist the buttery fragrance wafting up the stairs near the admissions desk! )

 Like most large art museums, the Wadsworth displays special exhibitions for a limited time. To find out the titles and gallery locations of the special exhibitions on view, consult the map that the admissions desk gives you when you first arrive at the museum.

The two largest sections of the museum building are respectively the Morgan wing, named after the aforementioned Morgan; and the Avery wing named after Milton Avery, a 20th century modern artist native to Connecticut who left a sizable bequest to the Wadsworth. 

Hartford residents can gain free admission with proof of residence. Likewise,  on the first full weekend of the month, visitors can enjoy free admission sponsored by Bank of America's Museums on Us if they are Bank of America or Merrill Lynch cardholders. See my article explaining how to take advantage of free admission

However you do come, you’re sure to find some art that suits your taste, and perhaps you’ll take away an appreciation for something new!

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adultslearn

You're never too old: Why adults should bother to study and learn

March 11, 2024

Many adults believe that learning ended when they graduated high school or college. If that's the case, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and they miss out on one of the best parts of life's journey. Sometimes we believe that learning and study are for the young, for students, for those preparing for a career. What makes us think this way? Fear, busyness, self-doubt, misunderstanding, weariness?

Learning new things –scholastically or along life's path― makes us a better person, opens up new opportunities, and gives us an awareness of the world. It broadens our horizons. We become more culturally refined, well-rounded, and well ― human

We enrich our life by engaging in new experiences, reading interesting books, attending informative lectures and programs, visiting educational sites and museums. We meet new people, find new ways to do things, discover new interests and hobbies, become active and informed citizens, gain potential job and home management skills, and transform into better learners with each new experience. And whether we know it at the time or not, we will be able to use what we learn someday, somehow.

Happening upon a new topic can guide us to a hobby previously unexplored. When my four children were little, I had little time or stamina for learning new pastimes, let alone reading a good book. (At that point, thumbing through a picture book was about all I had energy for. Don't worry, it was temporary.) One summer vacation, I took my small kids to the children's craft-story hour at a local library. I took the opportunity to look through the stacks. I wandered a bit, then found the biography section. My eyes were attracted to the title of a book on the wives of the presidents. I grabbed the book and plunked myself down on the rug for a good hour's sit. Each wife's story was short enough for me, and eventually I came upon the trivia that Theodore Roosevelt had had two wives, having lost one to disease. Perhaps you knew that, but I didn't and I was drawn in, reveling in a new discovery. By the end of the hour, I was hooked on a new pursuit, and a longtime hobby was born. (Here's a fun fact: Theodore Roosevelt did not call himself nor did his family call him Teddy. They called him either Theodore or Thee. Teddy was an imposed nickname designed for a marketing campaign for the newly popular teddy bear.) From that point I collected and read many books and attended lectures on Roosevelt and his family, and visited all his historic sites in New York State.

From there I chose to veer to the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt side of the family for more learning. By that point my Roosevelt hobby had become a joy to me, and learning wasn't a chore because I took ownership over it. Furthermore, by then the kids were older and I willingly traded in the picture books for a more scholastic pursuit.

The mental malaise I had allowed myself to fall into gave way to the freedom and exhilaration of learning that propelled me onward for years.

 

Studying new topics and reading good books helps us develop our vocabulary and cultural knowledge base. A better command of the language about various topics is useful for engaging in conversation with a wide assortment of people. We can talk on topics that aren't our favorite with people we meet, and take an interest in what they have to say, and use the correct words to do it. This makes us more accessible and interesting with new friends and colleagues. And we enjoy ourselves more, too! Sometimes, too, chatting with someone about a topic can deepen and/or broaden our knowledge of it. It can also lead to joining an organization, workshop, or club with that focus, bringing us to new experiences and new friends. Remember, too, that many of the things you studied about in your youth have changed with new discoveries.

The act of learning actually has physiological benefits to the brain and its function. Continued learning in later life helps positively affect brain function, thus leading to structural changes; “these structural changes are believed to encode the learning in the brain” (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000, p. 126). It stands to reason that allowing the brain to lie dormant for years may affect its later ability to learn and recall memory. Just from a practical, functional point of view, it pays to keep up with ongoing learning so you can do the stuff you need to in your daily life.

Studying something new need not be an arduous chore. As a refreshing change from querying the ever-present browser on your phone, try browsing in different sections in your city library – perhaps one section per week – is a painless method of learning something new. Pick up a magazine (without having to pay for a subscription!). Check out a biography or how-to book. Picture books can give you a quick overview on just about any topic from bee-keeping to skyscrapers. Take a look at the bestsellers' list the library keeps to see if there's a book that captures your interest.

Here are some fitting quotations from Happy Publishing that illustrate the power of learning – and its absence. 

Only the educated are free. – Epictetus 

What you don't know can hurt you. – Lord Chesterfield

It's what you learn after you know everything that counts. – J. Wooden

When you're through learning, you're through. – Vernon Law

Knowledge is power. – Sir Francis Bacon

The unexamined life is not worth living. – Socrates

Nothing in life is to be feared, only understood. – Marie Curie

 

And let's not miss this gem from my daughter when she was young–It's good to know things.

 

References

Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. 

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Chrysler Museum of Art

March 1, 2024

Not far from the impressive Norfolk Naval Base in Norfolk, Virginia is the Chrysler Museum of Art. Originally founded in 1933, this mid-sized  museum began as the Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences. The Chrysler Museum grew substantially when Walter P. Chrysler, Jr. donated more than 10,000 objects to the museum in 1971.

The curatorial departments include European Art of the 12th to 19th centuries, American Art 18th to 19th centuries, and European and American Art 19th to 20th centuries. There is also Ancient Art of Greece and Egypt, non-western art, and more.  You can also enjoy Medieval Art, Photography, and the Porcelain Gallery, as well.

Perhaps the most prized possession of The Chrysler Museum museum is the Perry Glass Studio. Not only is there an extensive glass collection for visitors to view, there also may be an opportunity to watch demonstrations of glassmaking.

 If you want to visit the Chrysler Museum, you will be happy to know that the admission is free.

 

The museum is located at One Memorial Place, Norfolk, VA 23510

Last but not least, the Chrysler Museum of Art, like most museums, displays special exhibitions for a limited time.

When I went to visit the Chrysler Museum in February 2024 the major special exhibition was Eyes of the Storm, the photography of Paul McCartney from 1963-1964.

Next stop: Brooklyn Museum May 3–August 18, 2024   Brooklyn Museum: Paul McCartney Photographs 1963–64: Eyes of the Storm

Brooklyn Museum

200 Eastern Parkway

Brooklyn, New York 11238-6052

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LeapYear

Leap Year

February 29 (of course), 2024

A bare bones explanation of leap year 

Leap year is a year where there is one additional day in February, that is February 29, called Leap Day.  So, instead of 365 days in the year, leap year has 366.

Why?

The Gregorian calendar

In the Gregorian calendar, which is the calendar used in western civilization, it is necessary to add one more day to the calendar in order to synchronize with astronomical events because an astronomical year lasts nearly 366 days or, more precisely 365 ¼ days.

A very precocious 5 year old?

I had a friend in college who was born on Leap Day, 1960. I remember him telling me that birthdays were a little odd for him because he had one birthday every 5 years, so to speak. If I have my math right, which, if you recall, is suspect, we joked about how he was 5 years old at the time of our friendship. It was funny to have a friend in college who was 5 years old. My college friend is not the only person to face a tricky birthday on Leap Day.

Leap year makes an appearance in The Pirates of Penzance

***SPOILER ALERT***

 

If you have never seen the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta The Pirates of Penzance you may not want to continue reading because I am about to tell you some important details from the plot.

In the 1879 madcap operetta, The Pirates of Penzance, by Gilbert and Sullivan, Frederic the handsome protagonist, is in love with Mabel the local beauty.  Because Frederic had been indentured to the pirates for a certain term of his life , he is prohibited from leaving them and can  not marry the lovely Mabel until then. 

But you guessed it: Frederic was born on Leap Day and so has many years to go before he can leave the pirates' employ.  63 more  years, in fact!

All because of Leap Year.

 

Hmmm…I wonder if Little Orphan Annie was born on Leap Day…

Makes sense, doesn't it?

PS : I hope you have an opportunity to attend a live performance of the Pirates of Penzance or see a filmed recording of it. I recommend you look for a version with Kevin Kline playing the Pirate King.

Factual information from

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leap_year#

 

coffee
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Coffee Your Way

Drinking coffee is a culture in itself. People around the world make coffee an integral part of their daily life. Whether drinking solo as in I can't wake up until I have my coffee or as a social activity, as in Hey, let's meet for coffee
Many coffee drinkers’ preferences include the actual choice of coffee beans, the method of preparation, and the flavorings that go with their preferred beverage. In this article we will explore some coffee beans, some coffee equipment and some preferred preparations of coffee beverages.

Here are various coffee preparation methods and their characteristics:
 

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Coffee maker type - French Press

Degree of Setup Convenience - Requires assembly & babysitting. Must boil water.

Description of the coffee experience

Full-bodied mouth feel. Complete flavor extraction.

Degree of cleanup convenience - Involves handling wet grounds. Hand wash screen, parts & carafe

Grind - Coarse

Coffee maker type - Automatic drip

Degree of Setup Convenience - Scoop and go. Requires filter. Some models have a timer to have coffee ready when you wake up.

Description of the coffee experience

Good body & flavor due to slow seeping through the grounds

Degree of cleanup convenience - Discard filter with grounds. Wash filter basket and carafe.

Grind - Medium

Coffee maker type - Percolator

Degree of Setup Convenience - Requires assembly. If stovetop percolator, must be timed and removed from heat.

Description of the coffee experience

Can be on the strong side. Coffee boils and recycles through grounds.

Degree of cleanup convenience - Must handle wet grounds, clean parts and re-assemble.

Grind - Coarse

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Coffee maker type - Espresso

Degree of Setup Convenience - Pack the espresso maker with grounds, brew according to instructions.

Description of the coffee experience

Very small cup of highly concentrated flavor. Many preparation variations.

Degree of cleanup convenience - Must handle wet grounds, clean parts and re-assemble.

Grind - Very fine

Coffee maker type - Instant Coffee

Degree of Setup Convenience - Pour boiling water over a teaspoon of powder in a cup and stir.

Description of the coffee experience

Taste can be metallic or bitter. Unpleasant foam appears on the surface.

Degree of cleanup convenience - Just a cup and perhaps a spoon to wash.

Grind - Freeze-dried crystals

So what to put in your coffee maker? (never mind instant - if you're using that kind, you don't have time to worry about this part!) Here are two basic kinds of coffee beans, arabica and robusta. Here are their characteristics:

Bean -  Arabica

Caffeine level - moderate

Flavor - Smooth, sweet

Uses- Higher quality - featured in single-source coffees

Bean -  Robusta

Caffeine level - high

Flavor - Bitter, smoky

Uses- Espresso, blends

Some people, like me, always drink their coffee black with no sugar. In my case I am enjoying the coffee as is. And if I am drinking coffee made from arabica beans (See the chart) I am simply enjoying the rich flavor. Other people would never drink their coffee black. They prefer to add flavorings such as cream, coffee creamer, syrup and other flavorings such as candy. Some people want to drink their coffee with a donut or a cookie.

 In the case of drinking espresso, many people drink it late at night after drinking alcoholic beverages. This is common in Europe. (I did that once as an overnight guest at someone's house, and I couldn't fall asleep all night.)

At any rate, enjoying one’s coffee is a very personal experience,  and fortunately there are many brewing/flavor choices available for each of us to settle into the perfect cup.

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Yale Art Gallery and New Haven style pizza: Little-known treasures of Connecticut

museumpizza

January 20, 2024

In this article I am on two missions. First, I want to make you aware of the presence of the spectacular Yale Art Gallery located on the campus of Yale University in New Haven. (By the way, there are other galleries on the Yale University campus that you can explore.) 

Secondly, I  encourage you to try New Haven style pizza as part of  your itinerary when you visit New Haven. Normally I don't recommend restaurants when I  write a museum itinerary, and I'm not doing so now. I figure you can find your own lunch. New Haven, as a college town, has many wonderful options for dining. The reason I am suggesting to you to try New Haven style pizza is because it is very unique to the Eastern Connecticut region  of New Haven, unlike, say, New York style pizza. Since this article is part of the series Learning through Culture I want to make you aware of both the Yale Art Gallery and the unique cultural delicacy that is New Haven-style pizza.

 Yale Art Gallery and a sampling of its curatorial departments

The Gallery is located at 111 Chapel Street (at York Street) New Haven, CT. and is free and open to the public.

 Here is an introduction from the director of the Gallery as printed on the website:

This, from the About Yale Art Gallery 

The Yale University Art Gallery collects, preserves, studies, and presents art in all media, from all regions of the globe and across time. The museum’s exceptional collection—numbering over 300,000 objects—is the core of its identity. It sustains and catalyzes all we do.

Founded in 1832, the Gallery is the oldest university art museum in America. Today, it is a center for teaching, learning, and scholarship and is a preeminent cultural asset for Yale University, the wider academic community, and the public. The museum is open to all, free of charge, and is committed to engaging audiences through thoughtful, creative, and relevant exhibitions, programs, and publications.

 

Below is a short sample list of the curatorial areas.

 African art

Ancient art

American paintings and sculpture 

Modern and contemporary art

Numismatics (currency) 

Asian art and much more 

 

I never tire of visiting the Yale Art Gallery. Its world class collection (they have works by Picasso , Frans Hals, and Van Gogh, for example) always thrills me because it seems to  touch nearly every corner of the globe. I  hope that you enjoy the photographs that we took when visiting the Gallery.

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New Haven-style pizza

The New Haven style pizza is quite different from New York or other mainstream pies. First of all it is baked in a coal-fired oven.

Then, it has an irregular shape which gives it an almost homemade look.  Also, the doneness is close to what some traditional pizza fans might call burnt. In fact the black carbon that appears on the crust is affectionately referred to as “char” and is seen as very desirable. As you would expect the crust is very crunchy.

 

Typical toppings - pepperoni, mushroom, sausage etc. are all available.  One popular pizza with an unusual topping, made famous at a particular pizzeria,  is the white clam pizza. There are no tomatoes or tomato sauce and the main feature is a generous portion of clams!

 If you are interested in trying New Haven pizza for yourself, most of  the New Haven pizzerias are located in the vicinity of Wooster Street, New Haven, CT.

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I've been to the Mountaintop

By  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., April 3, 1968

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On the Top

January 15, 2024 

Thank you very kindly, my friends. As I listened to Ralph Abernathy and his eloquent and generous introduction and then thought about myself, I wondered who he was talking about. It's always good to have your closest friend and associate to say something good about you. And Ralph Abernathy is the best friend that I have in the world. I'm delighted to see each of you here tonight in spite of a storm warning. You reveal that you are determined to go on anyhow.

Something is happening in Memphis; something is happening in our world. And you know, if I were standing at the beginning of time, with the possibility of taking a kind of general and panoramic view of the whole of human history up to now, and the Almighty said to me, "Martin Luther King, which age would you like to live in?" I would take my mental flight by Egypt and I would watch God's children in their magnificent trek from the dark dungeons of Egypt through, or rather across the Red Sea, through the wilderness on toward the promised land. And in spite of its magnificence, I wouldn't stop there.

I would move on by Greece and take my mind to Mount Olympus. And I would see Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Euripides and Aristophanes assembled around the Parthenon. And I would watch them around the Parthenon as they discussed the great and eternal issues of reality. But I wouldn't stop there.

I would go on, even to the great heyday of the Roman Empire. And I would see developments around there, through various emperors and leaders. But I wouldn't stop there.

I would even come up to the day of the Renaissance, and get a quick picture of all that the Renaissance did for the cultural and aesthetic life of man. But I wouldn't stop there.

I would even go by the way that the man for whom I am named had his habitat. And I would watch Martin Luther as he tacked his ninety-five theses on the door at the church of Wittenberg. But I wouldn't stop there.

I would come on up even to 1863, and watch a vacillating President by the name of Abraham Lincoln finally come to the conclusion that he had to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. But I wouldn't stop there.

I would even come up to the early thirties, and see a man grappling with the problems of the bankruptcy of his nation. And come with an eloquent cry that we have nothing to fear but "fear itself." But I wouldn't stop there.

Strangely enough, I would turn to the Almighty, and say, "If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the 20th century, I will be happy."

Now that's a strange statement to make, because the world is all messed up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land; confusion all around. That's a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars. And I see God working in this period of the twentieth century in a way that men, in some strange way, are responding.

Something is happening in our world. The masses of people are rising up. And wherever they are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; Accra, Ghana; New York City; Atlanta, Georgia; Jackson, Mississippi; or Memphis, Tennessee -- the cry is always the same: "We want to be free."

And another reason that I'm happy to live in this period is that we have been forced to a point where we are going to have to grapple with the problems that men have been trying to grapple with through history, but the demands didn't force them to do it. Survival demands that we grapple with them. Men, for years now, have been talking about war and peace. But now, no longer can they just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it's nonviolence or nonexistence. That is where we are today.

And also in the human rights revolution, if something isn't done, and done in a hurry, to bring the colored peoples of the world out of their long years of poverty, their long years of hurt and neglect, the whole world is doomed. Now, I'm just happy that God has allowed me to live in this period to see what is unfolding. And I'm happy that He's allowed me to be in Memphis.

I can remember -- I can remember when Negroes were just going around as Ralph has said, so often, scratching where they didn't itch, and laughing when they were not tickled. But that day is all over. We mean business now, and we are determined to gain our rightful place in God's world.

And that's all this whole thing is about. We aren't engaged in any negative protest and in any negative arguments with anybody. We are saying that we are determined to be men. We are determined to be people. We are saying -- We are saying that we are God's children. And that we are God's children, we don't have to live like we are forced to live.

Now, what does all of this mean in this great period of history? It means that we've got to stay together. We've got to stay together and maintain unity. You know, whenever Pharaoh wanted to prolong the period of slavery in Egypt, he had a favorite, favorite formula for doing it. What was that? He kept the slaves fighting among themselves. But whenever the slaves get together, something happens in Pharaoh's court, and he cannot hold the slaves in slavery. When the slaves get together, that's the beginning of getting out of slavery. Now let us maintain unity.

Secondly, let us keep the issues where they are. The issue is injustice. The issue is the refusal of Memphis to be fair and honest in its dealings with its public servants, who happen to be sanitation workers. Now, we've got to keep attention on that. That's always the problem with a little violence. You know what happened the other day, and the press dealt only with the window-breaking. I read the articles. They very seldom got around to mentioning the fact that one thousand, three hundred sanitation workers are on strike, and that Memphis is not being fair to them, and that Mayor Loeb is in dire need of a doctor. They didn't get around to that.

Now we're going to march again, and we've got to march again, in order to put the issue where it is supposed to be -- and force everybody to see that there are thirteen hundred of God's children here suffering, sometimes going hungry, going through dark and dreary nights wondering how this thing is going to come out. That's the issue. And we've got to say to the nation: We know how it's coming out. For when people get caught up with that which is right and they are willing to sacrifice for it, there is no stopping point short of victory.

We aren't going to let any mace stop us. We are masters in our nonviolent movement in disarming police forces; they don't know what to do. I've seen them so often. I remember in Birmingham, Alabama, when we were in that majestic struggle there, we would move out of the 16th Street Baptist Church day after day; by the hundreds we would move out. And Bull Connor would tell them to send the dogs forth, and they did come; but we just went before the dogs singing, "Ain't gonna let nobody turn me around."

Bull Connor next would say, "Turn the fire hoses on." And as I said to you the other night, Bull Connor didn't know history. He knew a kind of physics that somehow didn't relate to the transphysics that we knew about. And that was the fact that there was a certain kind of fire that no water could put out. And we went before the fire hoses; we had known water. If we were Baptist or some other denominations, we had been immersed. If we were Methodist, and some others, we had been sprinkled, but we knew water. That couldn't stop us.

And we just went on before the dogs and we would look at them; and we'd go on before the water hoses and we would look at it, and we'd just go on singing "Over my head I see freedom in the air." And then we would be thrown in the paddy wagons, and sometimes we were stacked in there like sardines in a can. And they would throw us in, and old Bull would say, "Take 'em off," and they did; and we would just go in the paddy wagon singing, "We Shall Overcome." And every now and then we'd get in jail, and we'd see the jailers looking through the windows being moved by our prayers, and being moved by our words and our songs. And there was a power there which Bull Connor couldn't adjust to; and so we ended up transforming Bull into a steer, and we won our struggle in Birmingham. Now we've got to go on in Memphis just like that. I call upon you to be with us when we go out Monday.

Now about injunctions: We have an injunction and we're going into court tomorrow morning to fight this illegal, unconstitutional injunction. All we say to America is, "Be true to what you said on paper." If I lived in China or even Russia, or any totalitarian country, maybe I could understand some of these illegal injunctions. Maybe I could understand the denial of certain basic First Amendment privileges, because they hadn't committed themselves to that over there. But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right.1 And so just as I say, we aren't going to let dogs or water hoses turn us around, we aren't going to let any injunction turn us around. We are going on.

We need all of you. And you know what's beautiful to me is to see all of these ministers of the Gospel. It's a marvelous picture. Who is it that is supposed to articulate the longings and aspirations of the people more than the preacher? Somehow the preacher must have a kind of fire shut up in his bones. And whenever injustice is around he tell it. Somehow the preacher must be an Amos, and saith, "When God speaks who can but prophesy?" Again with Amos, "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." Somehow the preacher must say with Jesus, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me," and he's anointed me to deal with the problems of the poor."

And I want to commend the preachers, under the leadership of these noble men: James Lawson, one who has been in this struggle for many years; he's been to jail for struggling; he's been kicked out of Vanderbilt University for this struggle, but he's still going on, fighting for the rights of his people. Reverend Ralph Jackson, Billy Kiles; I could just go right on down the list, but time will not permit. But I want to thank all of them. And I want you to thank them, because so often, preachers aren't concerned about anything but themselves. And I'm always happy to see a relevant ministry.

It's all right to talk about "long white robes over yonder," in all of its symbolism. But ultimately people want some suits and dresses and shoes to wear down here! It's all right to talk about "streets flowing with milk and honey," but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here, and his children who can't eat three square meals a day. It's all right to talk about the new Jerusalem, but one day, God's preacher must talk about the new New York, the new Atlanta, the new Philadelphia, the new Los Angeles, the new Memphis, Tennessee. This is what we have to do.

Now the other thing we'll have to do is this: Always anchor our external direct action with the power of economic withdrawal. Now, we are poor people. Individually, we are poor when you compare us with white society in America. We are poor. Never stop and forget that collectively -- that means all of us together -- collectively we are richer than all the nations in the world, with the exception of nine. Did you ever think about that? After you leave the United States, Soviet Russia, Great Britain, West Germany, France, and I could name the others, the American Negro collectively is richer than most nations of the world. We have an annual income of more than thirty billion dollars a year, which is more than all of the exports of the United States, and more than the national budget of Canada. Did you know that? That's power right there, if we know how to pool it.

We don't have to argue with anybody. We don't have to curse and go around acting bad with our words. We don't need any bricks and bottles. We don't need any Molotov cocktails. We just need to go around to these stores, and to these massive industries in our country, and say,

"God sent us by here, to say to you that you're not treating his children right. And we've come by here to ask you to make the first item on your agenda fair treatment, where God's children are concerned. Now, if you are not prepared to do that, we do have an agenda that we must follow. And our agenda calls for withdrawing economic support from you."

And so, as a result of this, we are asking you tonight, to go out and tell your neighbors not to buy Coca-Cola in Memphis. Go by and tell them not to buy Sealtest milk. Tell them not to buy -- what is the other bread? -- Wonder Bread. And what is the other bread company, Jesse? Tell them not to buy Hart's bread. As Jesse Jackson has said, up to now, only the garbage men have been feeling pain; now we must kind of redistribute the pain. We are choosing these companies because they haven't been fair in their hiring policies; and we are choosing them because they can begin the process of saying they are going to support the needs and the rights of these men who are on strike. And then they can move on town -- downtown and tell Mayor Loeb to do what is right.

But not only that, we've got to strengthen black institutions. I call upon you to take your money out of the banks downtown and deposit your money in Tri-State Bank. We want a "bank-in" movement in Memphis. Go by the savings and loan association. I'm not asking you something that we don't do ourselves at SCLC. Judge Hooks and others will tell you that we have an account here in the savings and loan association from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. We are telling you to follow what we are doing. Put your money there. You have six or seven black insurance companies here in the city of Memphis. Take out your insurance there. We want to have an "insurance-in."

Now these are some practical things that we can do. We begin the process of building a greater economic base. And at the same time, we are putting pressure where it really hurts. I ask you to follow through here.

Now, let me say as I move to my conclusion that we've got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end. Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point in Memphis. We've got to see it through. And when we have our march, you need to be there. If it means leaving work, if it means leaving school -- be there. Be concerned about your brother. You may not be on strike. But either we go up together, or we go down together.

Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness. One day a man came to Jesus, and he wanted to raise some questions about some vital matters of life. At points he wanted to trick Jesus, and show him that he knew a little more than Jesus knew and throw him off base....

Now that question could have easily ended up in a philosophical and theological debate. But Jesus immediately pulled that question from mid-air, and placed it on a dangerous curve between Jerusalem and Jericho. And he talked about a certain man, who fell among thieves. You remember that a Levite and a priest passed by on the other side. They didn't stop to help him. And finally a man of another race came by. He got down from his beast, decided not to be compassionate by proxy. But he got down with him, administered first aid, and helped the man in need. Jesus ended up saying, this was the good man, this was the great man, because he had the capacity to project the "I" into the "thou," and to be concerned about his brother.

Now you know, we use our imagination a great deal to try to determine why the priest and the Levite didn't stop. At times we say they were busy going to a church meeting, an ecclesiastical gathering, and they had to get on down to Jerusalem so they wouldn't be late for their meeting. At other times we would speculate that there was a religious law that "One who was engaged in religious ceremonials was not to touch a human body twenty-four hours before the ceremony." And every now and then we begin to wonder whether maybe they were not going down to Jerusalem -- or down to Jericho, rather to organize a "Jericho Road Improvement Association." That's a possibility. Maybe they felt that it was better to deal with the problem from the causal root, rather than to get bogged down with an individual effect.

But I'm going to tell you what my imagination tells me. It's possible that those men were afraid. You see, the Jericho road is a dangerous road. I remember when Mrs. King and I were first in Jerusalem. We rented a car and drove from Jerusalem down to Jericho. And as soon as we got on that road, I said to my wife, "I can see why Jesus used this as the setting for his parable." It's a winding, meandering road. It's really conducive for ambushing. You start out in Jerusalem, which is about 1200 miles -- or rather 1200 feet above sea level. And by the time you get down to Jericho, fifteen or twenty minutes later, you're about 2200 feet below sea level. That's a dangerous road. In the days of Jesus it came to be known as the "Bloody Pass." And you know, it's possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around. Or it's possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking. And he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt, in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure. And so the first question that the priest asked -- the first question that the Levite asked was, "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?" But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?"

That's the question before you tonight. Not, "If I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to my job. Not, "If I stop to help the sanitation workers what will happen to all of the hours that I usually spend in my office every day and every week as a pastor?" The question is not, "If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?" The question is, "If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?" That's the question.

Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation. And I want to thank God, once more, for allowing me to be here with you.

You know, several years ago, I was in New York City autographing the first book that I had written. And while sitting there autographing books, a demented black woman came up. The only question I heard from her was, "Are you Martin Luther King?" And I was looking down writing, and I said, "Yes." And the next minute I felt something beating on my chest. Before I knew it I had been stabbed by this demented woman. I was rushed to Harlem Hospital. It was a dark Saturday afternoon. And that blade had gone through, and the X-rays revealed that the tip of the blade was on the edge of my aorta, the main artery. And once that's punctured, your drowned in your own blood -- that's the end of you.

It came out in the New York Times the next morning, that if I had merely sneezed, I would have died. Well, about four days later, they allowed me, after the operation, after my chest had been opened, and the blade had been taken out, to move around in the wheel chair in the hospital. They allowed me to read some of the mail that came in, and from all over the states and the world, kind letters came in. I read a few, but one of them I will never forget. I had received one from the President and the Vice-President. I've forgotten what those telegrams said. I'd received a visit and a letter from the Governor of New York, but I've forgotten what that letter said. But there was another letter that came from a little girl, a young girl who was a student at the White Plains High School. And I looked at that letter, and I'll never forget it. It said simply,

"Dear Dr. King,

I am a ninth-grade student at the White Plains High School."

And she said,

"While it should not matter, I would like to mention that I'm a white girl. I read in the paper of your misfortune, and of your suffering. And I read that if you had sneezed, you would have died. And I'm simply writing you to say that I'm so happy that you didn't sneeze."

And I want to say tonight -- I want to say tonight that I too am happy that I didn't sneeze. Because if I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been around here in 1960, when students all over the South started sitting-in at lunch counters. And I knew that as they were sitting in, they were really standing up for the best in the American dream, and taking the whole nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been around here in 1961, when we decided to take a ride for freedom and ended segregation in inter-state travel.

If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been around here in 1962, when Negroes in Albany, Georgia, decided to straighten their backs up. And whenever men and women straighten their backs up, they are going somewhere, because a man can't ride your back unless it is bent.

If I had sneezed -- If I had sneezed I wouldn't have been here in 1963, when the black people of Birmingham, Alabama, aroused the conscience of this nation, and brought into being the Civil Rights Bill.

If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have had a chance later that year, in August, to try to tell America about a dream that I had had.

If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been down in Selma, Alabama, to see the great Movement there.

If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been in Memphis to see a community rally around those brothers and sisters who are suffering.

I'm so happy that I didn't sneeze.

And they were telling me --. Now, it doesn't matter, now. It really doesn't matter what happens now. I left Atlanta this morning, and as we got started on the plane, there were six of us. The pilot said over the public address system, "We are sorry for the delay, but we have Dr. Martin Luther King on the plane. And to be sure that all of the bags were checked, and to be sure that nothing would be wrong with on the plane, we had to check out everything carefully. And we've had the plane protected and guarded all night."

And then I got into Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?

Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop.

And I don't mind.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land

And so I'm happy, tonight.

I'm not worried about anything.

I'm not fearing any man!

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!

Suspend your disbelief while watching a play or, Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain

Anchor 7

January 7, 2024

Most of us who attend plays go to be entertained, to be touched in our emotions, to learn something, to hear a message or to gain a new experience. So we dress up, pick up our friends and head to the theater. We show our ticket to the usher and head down the aisle to find our seat. We look at the playbill to see the names of the actors and what other plays they've been in or what their real-life hobbies are. We chat with our friends, pointing out the décor or any set pieces we can see while the ushers seat the last playgoer. Then we all hush as the lights dim.

 

We know we're in a theater. We know this is a play.

 

To get the full benefit of the intent of the play, we need to remember that it is pretend – even serious ones based on a historical event. The actors are pretending to be someone they're not and doing something they're not, like shooting the bad guy or drinking poison, and you're pretending that what you're watching is actually occurring. That's one reason we turn off the house lights during the show. Sometimes a playwright or director may use a vehicle to help tell the story. A vehicle is a theatrical device used to provide the means for the action to take place.

 

Let's look at an example, except instead of a play, let's examine a familiar movie.

 

In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy bumps her head while her house in Kansas is in the midst of a cyclone. A fantastic scene follows, where the house, along with many neighbors and even farm animals, is pulled up into the cyclone. Her house then drops into the Land of Oz. Most of the rest of the story takes place in Oz, a place with very unusual inhabitants. Dorothy continually strives to return to Kansas. In the end of the film, we see her recovering in her bed surrounded by her loved ones (who strangely resemble her friends in Oz) and they tell her it was all a dream. She insists that it was not a dream, but a real place. The movie finishes with us not knowing quite for sure. Well, Dorothy's bump on the head is the vehicle the script writer uses to get us into the Land of Oz so we can enjoy this engaging fantasy. We also do this with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and other fantasy works.

 

We have to accept the vehicle a playwright or director uses so we can enjoy the story, learn from it or make the details of the story work out together in a play or other work. When we do this, we suspend our disbelief during the play. This means to decide to not disbelieve all that we see, pretending instead that it indeed is so. We decide not to be too rational for the duration of the play so we can get out of it all that the story intends for us. We don't say things like, “Oh, that could never happen in real life;” “Hey, I saw the string;” “He was hiding behind the couch;” or “Cats don't really talk.”(Besides,  that would spoil it for our fellow audience members), wouldn't it?

 

If we can let our practical, skeptical minds go and let the guy hide behind the couch or let the cat talk, we'll be more engaged and get more out of the theater experience.

So, the next time you're at a play, make a deal with yourself to leave your disbelief at the door with the usher.

The Gift of the Magi
by O. Henry

Pocket Watch
Anchor 5

December 21, 2023

One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one’s cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.

While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home. A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the lookout for the mendicancy squad.

In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name “Mr. James Dillingham Young.”

The “Dillingham” had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, though, they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called “Jim” and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good.

Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn’t go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling—something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim.

There was a pier glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen a pier glass in an $8 flat. A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, being slender, had mastered the art.

Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. Her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its color within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length.

Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim’s gold watch that had been his father’s and his grandfather’s. The other was Della’s hair. Had the queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty’s jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.

So now Della’s beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet.

On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street.

Where she stopped the sign read: “Mme. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds.” One flight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the “Sofronie.”

“Will you buy my hair?” asked Della.

“I buy hair,” said Madame. “Take yer hat off and let’s have a sight at the looks of it.”

Down rippled the brown cascade.

“Twenty dollars,” said Madame, lifting the mass with a practised hand.

“Give it to me quick,” said Della.

Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim’s present.

She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation—as all good things should do. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim’s. It was like him. Quietness and value—the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it, and she hurried home with the 87 cents. With that chain on his watch Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leather strap that he used in place of a chain.

When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends—a mammoth task.

Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically.

“If Jim doesn’t kill me,” she said to herself, “before he takes a second look at me, he’ll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl. But what could I do—oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty-seven cents?”

At 7 o’clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the chops.

Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she turned white for just a moment. She had a habit of saying a little silent prayer about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: “Please God, make him think I am still pretty.”

The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two—and to be burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves.

Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.

Della wriggled off the table and went for him.

“Jim, darling,” she cried, “don’t look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold because I couldn’t have lived through Christmas without giving you a present. It’ll grow out again—you won’t mind, will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say ‘Merry Christmas!’ Jim, and let’s be happy. You don’t know what a nice—what a beautiful, nice gift I’ve got for you.”

“You’ve cut off your hair?” asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet even after the hardest mental labor.

“Cut it off and sold it,” said Della. “Don’t you like me just as well, anyhow? I’m me without my hair, ain’t I?”

Jim looked about the room curiously.

“You say your hair is gone?” he said, with an air almost of idiocy.

“You needn’t look for it,” said Della. “It’s sold, I tell you—sold and gone, too. It’s Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered,” she went on with sudden serious sweetness, “but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the chops on, Jim?”

Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a year—what is the difference? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. This dark assertion will be illuminated later on.

Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table.

“Don’t make any mistake, Dell,” he said, “about me. I don’t think there’s anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less. But if you’ll unwrap that package you may see why you had me going a while at first.”

White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! a quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat.

For there lay The Combs—the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with jewelled rims—just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone.

But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say: “My hair grows so fast, Jim!”

And then Della leaped up like a little singed cat and cried, “Oh, oh!”

Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit.

“Isn’t it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You’ll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it.”

Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled.

“Dell,” said he, “let’s put our Christmas presents away and keep ’em a while. They’re too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on.”

 

The magi, as you know, were wise men—wonderfully wise men—who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.

Nativity Scene

My Reading Customs at Christmastime

Anchor 4

December 17, 2023

After all of the music has been performed, the dinner has been eaten and cleaned up after, and the presents have all been opened everybody goes his own way for some needed down time. When I get to that point, I like to pull out my standby Christmas readings.

I want to tell you about a couple of books or stories I like to read then.

A Christmas Carol  by Charles Dickens.

 In case you don't know, A Christmas Carol is the story of Ebenezer Scrooge the miser and how his heart was softened toward Christmas and humanity after the visit of four ghosts. Yes four-- in addition to the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, Ebenezer is visited first by Jacob Marley, his deceased miserly business partner. I  like to read A Christmas Carol  at Christmas time because it is a well-told story, an easy read, and especially because it has the theme of redemption.

Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

A timeless classic, Gift of the Magi tells the story of Jim and Della, young lower-class married couple, who selflessly sacrificed their prized possession in order to give to the other at Christmas time. I often would read a young reader's version to middle school ESL students at Christmas time.

“A Visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement C. Moore

 Popularly known as "The Night Before Christmas," Moore wrote this poem in a couplet rhyme scheme on the evening of 23 December 1823. The poem enjoyed instant, as well as enduring success. The poem tells the story of the night that St Nicholas came to the house to deliver presents.

The main character, "I", quietly follows St. Nicholas through the house, watching him deliver the presents and  finally watching him escape to the rooftop where the reindeer were waiting. St. Nicholas takes leave of the house with the cry, "Happy Christmas to all and to all a goodnight!"

I personally don't spend much time with Santa Claus when celebrating Christmas. However, I chose this poem to share with you since it was most likely the first long poem I learned as a child after my first years with Mother Goose. I think it is a charming fantasy story, printed below:

A Visit from St. Nicholas

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds;

While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,

Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,

Gave a lustre of midday to objects below,

When what to my wondering eyes did appear,

But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer,

With a little old driver so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!

On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!

Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;

So up to the housetop the coursers they flew

With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too—

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,

And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly

That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!---

The Birth of Jesus Christ

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.  And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.  But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

 

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).  When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife,  but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

 

For me, that's the best story. 

Love, Diana 

Anchor 3

Good etiquette Guide for theater goers

Opera singer

December 14, 2023

Going to a play or a concert is a cultural experience in the realm of the fine arts.  It helps us grow as refined, civilized, educated people.  The people presenting cultural events have worked very hard to share their talents and their stories with the public because they understand the value of the fine arts.  They also enjoy their work very much, especially when they see others enjoy it, too.  And most people who attend plays and concerts do so because they value them.  They are willing to pay money for the tickets.

For these and other reasons, it is important that we as audience members show very good manners when attending any play or concert, even when audience participation is encouraged.  Now that many of us have DVDs and streaming we can watch at home, we've become accustomed to chatting during a movie, especially since we usually can rewind it to see anything we missed.  We've brought this habit into the public theater and tend to talk throughout a performance.  Unfortunately, that's not very pleasant for the other people in the audience, and is distracting and discouraging to the actors.

With this in mind, please not talk during a play. Depending on the type of performance,there may be an intermission during which you can discuss your thoughts with your neighbor.

Here is some other important etiquette.

No food or drink in the theater

If there are refreshments provided, please consume them in the lobby. I once was at a school concert seated  by a man loudly chomping and slurping on peanut  M&Ms. Ick! But I have to ask myself why the school was selling them prior to the concert?! Booster Club, I guess.

Stay in your seat during the performance. Use of the restroom can also be distracting to the audience.You may use the restroom during intermission if there is one. Please keep physical movement to a minimum.

No use of flashlights

 Avoid putting your feet on your neighbor's chair, opening a candy wrapper using a flashlight to read your program,or wearing a tall hat.  Little things like that annoy both the people in the audience and the performers on stage.

Never have a cell phone on during a performance! If you have one, please set it on silent, and don't answer it if someone calls you.

When Brian Dennehy was playing on Broadway, he confronted some loud talkers arguing with an usher.  Another time he faced a cell phone user as well. Dennehy was chagrined at the total slide in good etiquette in theaters.

If an actor addresses the audience rhetorically, do not answer him; he is airing his thoughts so you can learn something.  If it is an audience participation play, when answering, do so in a respectful, reasonable way; never in a way that will derail the play.  If a play schedules a Talk Back following a performance, that is, a question and answer session, keep those same rules of etiquette in mind as you respectfully discuss your thoughts with the actors or director.

Lastly,

Laugh, sigh, gasp, and applaud in all the right places!

If something moves you during the play, take time to talk about it afterward with someone and/or write your thoughts in a journal. It's part of what makes us human, and that's a good thing.

Check Your Theater Etiquette with This Quiz

If you have read some of the articles in  the series Learning through Culture, you might have learned some etiquette about going to the performance in the theater. If so, you might already know the answers to some of these questions. see if you can answer these true- false questions. The answer and an explanation is beneath each question in smaller print.

 

True or False?  Some of these are more obvious than others.  See what you can learn from this quiz.

T   F   1.  During an opera or concert, you are welcome to sing along with any songs that you know.

False. unless a concert is billed as a sing-along, we should consider it to be a performance only.  We do not sing along unless invited to do so. We should never sing along with an opera. An opera is a very formal performance. 

T   F   2.  Whenever the music stops, you may clap. Actually, False, because it depends. If we are watching a symphony, it likely will have several movements. A movement is a major section in a symphony concert. At the end of each movement the conductor will raise his baton for several seconds to signal to both the orchestra and the audience that he is pausing between movements. The audience must not clap between movements. So how do we know when he is pausing between movements and not ending the piece? He will hold his baton up in the air as he faces the orchestra. The orchestra is watching the conductor very carefully to indicate when the next movement starts. In such a case we will not applaud until the very end of the symphony. We can tell the symphony is over when the conductor makes a much broader upward then downward movement to the orchestra. He will also straighten his body and may even make an obvious movement with his head, shoulders, and foot. then he will likely turn and face the audience and smile and bow his head or body. Now we can applaud! 

If we are watching a concert that is not formal like a symphony  concert or an opera, you may applaud occasionally throughout depending on whether there are several different songs making up a whole. Of course, we should applaud after a solo.

 

T   F   3. If we arrive late after a concert  or play has started, we do not enter.

True. Some concert halls or theaters will never let a latecomer in. Those who do let in latecomers usually wait until a stopping point in the action, such as a scene change, or between songs. 

People arriving late cause a distraction and detracts from the overall experience for fellow audience neighbors as well as the players. it's best to arrive on time. 

T   F   4. Children really do not belong at a performance in the theater.

False. While it is possible that children may become fidgety and distracting to the other audience members during a performance, attending cultural performances can be a very rich and important part of a child's development. You yourself know your own child’s tendencies and patterns. If you plan on bringing your child to a public performance, it would be a wise idea to take the day before to give your child some ground rules and tips for the next day's performance. it might very well be one of the most beneficial opportunities for your child. Even so, it is your responsibility as the parent to  monitor your child's behavior for the sake of the audience and the performers. It will also make for a better experience for both you and your child if you explain the content of the performance. if it is a musical performance, explain the style of the music.  If you are attending an opera,explain in advance the premise of the story and the nature of operatic music . You can also talk about the way to applaud after an aria.  See Question 11. If it is a play, explain the general premise of the play. Please do not bring your child to a play with mature adult themes. If you and your child are attending a symphony together, it might be good to teach your child about the etiquette of not clapping between movements of a symphony.  See Question 2. You and your child can both be on the lookout for the physical cues of the conductor so you know where to applaud.

 

T   F   5.  If the conductor's hand is in the air, the piece of music is not finished, so do not clap yet.

True. See Question  2.

T   F   6.  We can take the opportunity  to record the play or concert and take pictures.

False.This  may be a paid performance; we must always respect the artists’ work. Most play or concert programs have a line in them saying that you may not take pictures or videos. So leave your cell phone packed away. You also run the risk of it  being confiscated. 

 

T   F   7.  If you turn to talk to a friend during a concert or opera, no one can hear you because concert halls are so big.

False. On the contrary the size and shape of the theater makes it conducive to distribute the sound all throughout. We may very well be heard if speaking to a friend. 

 

T   F   8. We can leave the theater if we want to use the restroom or make a call.

False. We need to stay seated during the performance. Leaving the room can also be distracting to the audience.We may use the restroom during intermission if there is one. Please keep physical movement to a minimum.

 

T   F  9.  If the seat in the previous row is empty, we are free to put our feet up on it.

False. We’ll look inattentive as audience members if we have feet on the chair.It is disrespectful to the performers who have worked hard to prepare. It may also be distracting to  neighbors, too.

 

T   F   10.  At the beginning of a symphony or other orchestral concert, watch for the entrance of the conductor. This is a time to applaud.

True. the conductor is the esteemed leader of the entire concert. He or she is worthy of your appreciation. It's like saying,Thank you to him or her.

 

T   F   11.  After an aria (a solo song in an opera), it is impolite to applaud. 

False. On the contrary, it is customary to applaud and even shout Bravo or Brava to the soloist. Bravo is for the male soloist, and Brava is for the female soloist. Sometimes the soloist receives flowers on the stage. An aria is a very difficult solo, so these are customary responses.

T   F   12.  Do not eat or drink in a concert hall.

True. A theater showing a play or a musical concert is formal, and thus should not have snacking going on, nor should there be trash in the aisles. On the contrary, you should save snacking for the movie theater where it is expected

Theater Goers: Good Etiquette vs. Bad Manners from the series Learning through Culture to read about the time I was seated next to the peanut M&M Chomper.

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Anchor 1
Untermyer entrance at night

Grand Holiday  Illumination at Untermyer Gardens  in Yonkers

December 12, 2023

If you will be in the Metro New York area between December 9 and January 1, you may enjoy visiting the Grand illumination at Untermyer Gardens in Yonkers, New York. The entire garden has been transformed into a magical scene in its Indo-Persian gardens. It is a multicultural event with seasonal music, occasional holiday dancing, and free hot chocolate.  Admission is free but donations are welcome at Untermyer Gardens to support the Conservancy.

December 9-January 1 from 4:30 - 8:00pm 

945 North Broadway 

Yonkers, NY 10701

For visitor information, especially regarding pets and parking, consult the website: https://www.untermyergardens.org/2015-grand-holiday-illumination.html

BTW Untermyer Garden is the location of my picture on the homepage!

Untermyer night scene

Handel's Messiah in junior high: my first exposure to learning challenging vocal music

Children Singing in a Choir
Anchor 1

November 29, 2023

Handel's Messiah in junior high: my first exposure to learning challenging vocal music

Mrs. Rockwell, God rest her soul, was one brave teacher. For our public school junior high choir she chose, rehearsed, and performed selections from Handel's Messiah. What was she thinking?! Realistically speaking, having chosen and ordered the sheet music for us, what in the world was she going to do if these twelve-year-olds just couldn't pull it off? She was already committed to the task. What if we rebelled, fooled around during rehearsals, or, more likely, just plain sounded awful? 
Fortunately, though, we did it, and sounded (so I am told and have always believed) beautiful.
As a lifelong vocal musician, I had always assumed that my great start in vocal musical training was singing challenging selections from Benjamin Britten's A Ceremony of Carols while in tenth grade. I had learned at a very early age how to read music, and my experience in the tenth grade choir gave me a rich opportunity to put my sight-reading skills to the test. 
Of course, it was no small thing to me the year before to prepare an ambitious repertoire of patriotic songs for the nation's Bicentennial. The program included George M. Cohan's Yankee Doodle Dandy and others of his compositions, along with the musical version of The New Colossus  printed on the Statue of Liberty and originally penned by Emma Lazarus, and many more soul-stirring numbers and poetry readings. We even recorded a record album that year! 
But learning to sing Benjamin Britten was challenging with its difficult four-part harmonies, Middle English text, and virtuoso harp part. (We had a professional harpist play the part for our concert. Our teacher warned us in rehearsal that the part was so strenuous for a harp player, that she could play through no more than one time per day, or she could become paralyzed in her forearms. I don't know how accurate that is, but it convinced me, so we worked hard to avoid having to start the section over.)
We worked and studied super hard during that first semester. I learned how to form my vowels like I had never had occasion to before. My listening skills grew sharper by necessity in this difficult series of pieces. I even had my first experience turning pages for the professional pianist who accompanied us for this concert, and got good at it. (Oh my gosh – I forgot that I had done that. What a privilege!)
So, naturally, all those years, that tenth grade experience had stuck fast in my mind as my seminal challenging vocal exposure. Until one day.
Just before one Christmas, I was sitting in rehearsal with the church choir having a chat with my friend while we waited to begin. We were talking about this or that church in town putting on Handel's Messiah, and how many churches and choirs do it because it's so enduring. I mentioned that I had done the most well-known selections from Messiah in junior high school choir and that I loved it. Her eyebrows lifted a bit, and she said with a little admiration,“Oh!” At that moment it dawned on me that Messiah was my first real and formative experience with challenging repertoire. There, too, as we did later with Benjamin Britten's pieces, we did four-part harmony, and focused a lot of attention on vowel pronunciation. I was enthralled with the marvelous melodies and counterpoints. It seemed to me (whether accurately or not) that for once the altos had a shot at a melody part. Or at least it felt like the melody in And the Glory of the Lord, and a little bit also in Unto Us a Child Is Born. A whole new world had opened up to me. When we finally got to the Hallelujah Chorus, I was hooked.
Mrs. Rockwell patiently led us through uniform pronunciations so we would have a chance to not sound like the junior high students we were, but instead lend a professional flavor and attitude to presenting the selections. We were expected to accurately use our sight-reading skills, and to learn and hold our parts confidently and without wavering.
She made us feel like we were executing a great responsibility in learning what was for us rather complex parts. It was certainly challenging, but it was a labor of love. For all of us.
She treated us like we were near-professionals (even though we were kids), and made us believe that we really could manage it. I don't remember her ever once losing her temper, holding her head in her hands, or expressing certainty that we would embarrass her.
She believed in us.
Rehearsals themselves were pleasures, not just necessary evils in order to have a good concert. Looking back through all those decades, after having later directed a number of children's choirs and musicals, I see that that was a miracle. I certainly don't remember my students relishing rehearsal time. 
No, Mrs. Rockwell was positive and optimistic, and very patient. Oh, this was no party or free-for-all. We worked hard, sometimes staying after school for sectional rehearsals. As much of a whiner I can be when faced with difficult tasks, I don't remember complaining. That was a miracle, too.
Maybe it was the magic of the Messiah. The beautiful words of Scripture and Handel's musical cadences still hold our attention today, and we brave snowstorms to see a candlelight performance of it in town.
Or maybe it was Mrs. Rockwell.

 

Clark pool

Free museum admission with Museums on Us by Bank of America

BOA

November 25, 2023

If you live in the United States, love visiting museums, and are a card holder of Bank of America or Merrill Lynch, you have the opportunity to visit participating museums on the first full weekend of every month. 

This is the link to the list of participating museums:

Bank of America Museums on Us

 

Click on the state, then you’ll see the cities with participating museums. Click on the city to see what museums they sponsor. You can click on the name of the museum, then Continue, to see its website.

Remember it’s the first full weekend of the month. Check to make sure it’s on the list and open that day. Museums do come and go from the list.

Alternatively, there may be a map on the screen instead of a list of states and cities. You can find museums you are interested in by navigating on the map. 

You’ll need to present your BOA (credit or debit) card and a photo ID for each person. You should expect to pay for anyone in your party not having a card.

You can go to more than one participating museum on that weekend.

If you go to the Museums on Us homepage, you can sign up for a reminder.

Also on the website you might look for an art series called Masterpiece Moment. This is a short video narrated by a museum director or curator focusing on one piece of art, explaining why he or she considers this work of art to be a masterpiece. 

 

BOA-Sponsored museums 

Below are some examples of past BOA-Sponsored museums

  • Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, PA 

  • Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, NY

  • Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum in  Dallas, TX

  • Frist Art Museum in Nashville,TN 

  • Northwest Museum of Art and Culture in Spokane,WA

student in library

A World of Culture Awaits You at the Library

Library

November 23, 2023

You certainly don't need me to tell you that the library is a fitting place for you to browse the stacks for your next read, or to access the New York Times Bestseller list, or that you can request materials through interlibrary loan. And you doubtless know whether your library has a little cafe to share coffee with your friend. You know all these things and more. But I want to take some moments to tell you about some of the cultural resources that the library offers me, and which your library perhaps offers you. I find an assortment of classes such as

MahJong, Zumba, painting, earring making, yoga, computer tech, English, Spanish, sign language, US citizenship and more.

Some classes may be free, some may charge a nominal instructor and/or supplies fee, or some may be restricted to library card holders. You can usually find out about classes that a library offers by looking at the events calendar on the library's website. Be aware that most classes will require you to sign up in advance. Some of the more popular classes may have a waiting list.

Museum passes

More and more libraries are offering their card holders the opportunity to borrow one or more area museum passes by using their library card to reserve the pass on a special calendar on the library's website. Typically, patrons would access the website to see which passes are available to borrow and on which available dates. You will probably need to sign in with your library card when you make the reservation. They usually give you a couple of days for travel to pick up the pass and to return it. At the time of this writing I have seen museum passes available only to the library's own card holding patrons. To avoid an overdue fine be careful to return the library pass on time. Furthermore keep in mind that if you lose the museum pass, you will need to monetarily replace it. I hope you can enjoy taking advantage of this generous opportunity so that you can tap into culture of the museums that you visit!

Live presentations

 It is just not possible for me to tell you the countless live presentations I have attended at libraries. Some highlights are the following :

  • An abridged production of Hamlet by a professional theater troupe

  • A lecture about the presidential libraries

  • A book talk by Mitch Albom, the author of Tuesdays With Morrie

  • Many concerts

  • A slide presentation of the history of Grand Central Station in New York City 

  • A murder mystery with audience participation

  • A mariachi band 

  • A tea demonstration

  • A slide presentation of the shipwrecks in Long Island Sound 

  • A Chinese acrobat

  • A visit with several live animals 

  • An opera demonstration

  • A talk about Amelia Earhart who had been a local in our area 

  • A reading of a well-known short story 

  • Living history reenactor in costume

  • A visit with retired greyhounds who were available for adoption, and many more!

Unique offerings

Now, I want to let you know how I came to attend such a wide variety and quantity of presentations. Well, it started with my new home library when I first moved into town. I noticed that they had some fliers about an upcoming program for the library that was scheduled for later in the week. In fact, it was the opera demonstration I mentioned earlier. When I attended that program a few days later, I had grateful tears in my eyes that I now lived in an area where I could enjoy many such programs as this.

In addition to looking for fliers about upcoming events such as the ones I've mentioned, I have also signed up for email newsletters and announcements about upcoming programs. I started with my new home library, but quickly discovered the countywide library system and I found myself signing up for many newsletters and announcements from area libraries even though it was not my home library. I especially looked for libraries with large program rooms or even theaters. By the way, most of the time presentations  are not restricted to your local library; they are usually open to all, except if there is a restriction such as limited space or other resources. Also, you might want to check if you need a reservation. For example, a live play might require tickets to attend, even though it is free, due to the limited space and/or the popularity of the event. Another arrangement you might investigate is if the program you were interested in is offered through a streaming platform, in which case you might need to request the link to the streaming presentation.

Sometimes programs are scheduled for a series over the course of several weeks and members register for the program and attend all sessions.

Some libraries you attend a program at may also have a large program room with a lot of wall space and/or they have space devoted to displaying artwork or other pieces. If they do have such a space, you might want to visit to find out what is scheduled for display in the gallery, and what is the opening and closing date.

Another feature you might be able to access is movie screenings which some libraries do offer on a scheduled date.

A few libraries evenn have a seed exchange program between patrons. 

Another library hosts a spice-of-the week program where participants receive a spice and several recipes which they can prepare using that spice.

I once was a patron of a local library which scheduled a monthly bus trip to New York City for a small fee. It was a very nice time to socialize with friends as they headed out to the city for the day.

So, are you ready for this rich world of culture at your doorstep through your library? 

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