Saturday, March 22, 2008

Millinery: The Easter Parade and A Poem for Easter Saturday

There isn't going to be an Easter parade anywhere here in Houston.
I'll bet there isn't going to be one where you live either. about we hat lovers putting together a virtual Easter Parade?

Take a picture of yourself in your Easter hat tomorrow, then post the picture on your blog on Easter Monday. Leave a comment today if you wish to participate, or a comment on Monday's post so others can find you on your blog, in your bonnet, with all the frills upon it...

Meanwhile I'd like to share the following poem, by Elizabeth Rooney, as found in A Widening Light: Poems of the Incarnation edited by Luci Shaw.

Easter Saturday

A curiously empty day,
As if the world's life
Had gone underground.
The April sun
Warming dry grass
Makes pale spring promises
But nothing comes to pass.

Relaxes into despair
As we remember our helplessness,
Remember him hanging there.
We have purchased the spices
But they must wait for tomorrow.
We shall keep today
For emptiness
And sorrow.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Millinery: Japanese Elevator Girls and Christ

Japanese photo artist Yanagi's work is currently on display at the Houston Museum of Fine art. There are three different projects on display; I was most interested in her photo series about Japanese elevator girls.

In Japan, young women work the elevators in perfectly matched outfits. Perhaps more importantly, the women are selected by their similarities. The height, weight, expressions are to be lovely, yet they are to exhibit no personal expression.

Yanagi actually hired girls to work as models, and photographed them in empty spaces to portray the women as essentially "products" like we might consider any set of item for sale in a department store.

Naturally I was drawn to the women's hats and gloves. But the images stayed in my mind, and the artist's message caused me to ponder.

Would it be better to have simple daily services provided impersonally?
After all, each time I enter an elevator, I might not wish to greet and make mental space for another person's personality in my thoughts. It would be much easier to just enjoy the image projected, and the service provided, and not trouble myself with the person behind the costume.

Today is Good Friday. I am considering the sacrifice of our Savior. As He was raised upon the cross as a sacrifice for humankind, I believe He did so mindful of not only the people around Him, but also of the generations to come; and the many people from place which were yet unknown.

There is a billboard near my house that states that "While He was on the Cross, you were on His mind."
I'm not sure if it was possible for Christ to consider each soul that was ever to trod the face of the earth while He was in agony. I am quite sure that from the foundations of the earth, He was mindful of each soul, and made a plan to make redemption possible for each and every person who shared the Adamic DNA.

It was such an enormous act; dwelling among people, dying so horribly, descending to the depth of Hell, then returning to Heaven, the God who became Man; the Son of God/the Son of Man.

Would it please Him to see service offered like the elevator girls do, in a manner that strips them of personality and uniqueness? Would their acceptance of their attire and demeanor be seen as a humble sacrifice?
Or would He be dismayed that the unique creation that each woman was intended to be was instead smothered for the mental expediency of others?

I don't know the answer to this question. I am thinking about it...remembering the clergical garments worn to make worship service focus less on the individual and more on the One to whom service was being offered. I think about the Sisters of Charity in their simple matching saris quietly serving the needs of others. I think of the military, the sports teams, and costumed dancers.

I am thinking about the pre-boomer population which treasured conformity over individuality, and community over personal expression. The book "Another Country" explored the ramifications upon society when individuality reigns and no one is there to serve the needs of others.

I once heard a sermon about the idea that each person is made in the image of God; each person's image is a facet of Who God Is, and yet each face is a marred expression. The preacher suggested that the reason we wince when we view a damaged person, either physically or mentally is because deep inside we acknowledge it a ruining of the reflection of Perfection.

There was another artist with works on display at the museum. The Korean brush and ink artist Suh Se-ok created this piece entitled "People Dancing."
It took me awhile to see people dancing in this design.
Perhaps that is what I should really look for: People dancing as individuals even when at first glance I might see nothing.
It takes more time and effort to see people beyond the first impression.
This post is awkward, and my thought are still incomplete.
I am far from complete resolution of the subject of Japanese Elevator Girls, Redemption and Humble Service.
It is, as I said before, Good Friday.
It is a good day to ponder many things.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Millinery: Houston Garden Party

Need first day of springtime millinery inspiration?

Today's Houston Chronicle has just the thing for you. It carried a fabulous photo collection of hats and included the pictures online for all of us to enjoy!

The Chronicle article was about the Hermann Park Conservancy fundraising hat-themed spring luncheon, and the ladies of Houston turned out in hatty style for the event.

It helped a lot that Philp Treacy had just recently been in town promoting his millinery collection; he was the millinery designer of choice for the event. Remember my whine awhile back abouth the fact that he dropped by my millinery school, and I wasn't there to enjoy it?

Both ladies pictured below are in Treacy designs. No word on who made the gent's hat.
It (and he) is quite handsome too!

My favorite hat:

The article mentioned that the other lime suit with the large floral corsage was designed by Zang Toi who worked together with Treacy to create quote: "A one-of-a-kind ensemble."

How sweet is that? I'd love to have that happen...and just think, it wasn't that long ago that designers used to regularly design a hat to go with their suits.

You can enjoy seeing some of the other hats that were worn to the event by clicking HERE.

(In the online pictures you will see the black and white hat worn by Lynn Wyatt. It was a gift to her from Treacy. Wyatt had entertained Treacy while he was in Houston. Now that is one cool little hostess gift! Mr. Treacy...I have a nice guest room, and I'd love to entertain you if you are ever in Houston again! Drop by anytime! We'd love to have you come stay!)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

St. Patrick's Weekend Walk

On Sunday we walked in the woods again....

The yellow watermark line is made from the yellow pine tree pollen that is coating everything in our area right now. Cars look as though someone has shaken yellowish green flour over their paint jobs, and my window sills are layered in pollen as well. The earlier rainstorm has served to wash some of the pollen away, but it was rebuilding rapidly throughout the morning.

I had never seen this delicate flowering tree before.

Nor the violets in bloom aside the trails. Notice the yellowish pollen dusting the violet's leaves.

Overhead a vine was dropping these golden jewels. They were scattered everywhere throughout the forest, yet I could not see them flowering in the tree tops.

Bernie used the raised pier area to do some stretches and yoga poses. This is the area that Laura and I named "Dead Bird Point" the first time we walked it; this walk was the first time Bernie has been able to walk far enough to go to the point.

The wind was really strong and caused waves to form on the lake. Usually the lake is like a pond with little motion upon the silted waters.

Along the water edge cypress knees created sculptural forms. This looked like a three people, and the sweet gum seed pod caught between the couple some how suggested a baby to me, or maybe an offering being presented to a king upon a bended knee.

I love how the shapes are all different.

I would name this shot: "The Exodus of Cypress Knee People."

Bernie and Laura walked pretty briskly and got ahead of me while I stopped to take pictures.

The golden yellow flowers that had dropped from the vine...scattered like treasures or Easter eggs!

Doesn't the red part of the flower look spray painted on? The tubular flower's red back side mimics the shape of the petals as it sharply transitions back to yellow.

The white flowers along side the path are berry blossoms. Looks like we'll have a good berry crop in a few months...

The lavender colored scurfy pea is just starting to bloom in the fields.

It was so sweet to watch Laura and Bernie chatting together as they walked.

Once out of the forest and meadow we re-entered the neighborhood. Our neighbor's orange and lemon trees were in abundant bloom!
The fragrance was divine.

Another neighbor had planted Bluebonnets, and they are now in bloom. Texas has several kinds of bluebonnets; these are not the same kind that will fill our meadows and fields in a few weeks.

The cardinals and mockingbirds were in full song as we walked, and this male cardinal was an especially vocal bird. I'm glad he sounded off so I did not miss seeing how beautiful he was perched in the midst of the blossoming Bradford pear tree.

You can't miss the cardinal's call: Pretty bird...cheer, cheer cheer

The first day of December I posted a picture of this tree in red autumnal splendor. Now the tree has dropped it's leaves, and blossomed. The final peek of slanted rooftop in the distance is our house.

The tree as it was when photographed December 1, 2008.

Back home, the pollen has caked and dried on our walkway, and dusted the moss growing between the bricks.
Thankfully few people are allergic to this large spore pollen, but it is certainly an unwelcome seasonal outpouring.
I'm waiting until it is all over before washing my car again!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Celebrating St. Patrick's Day- Houston Style.

We have some family traditions for celebrating St. Patrick's Day.
You see, I have Irish great grandparents (never met them though) and Bernie has some Sullivan blood back in the early 1800's so reason enough to "be Irish" on the day.

I usually decorate with an Irish girl doll and a small leprechaun that I've had for years.
I make Irish Soda Bread and brew a pot of Irish breakfast tea, alll while wearing my Irish green clover apron.

Ahh, 'tis a lovely way to enjoy the day.

This year Laura helped make the bread: that meant, of course, that sprinkles had to added to her loaf just to make things even more festive.
We had gone downtown to a museum on Saturday, and found out that THE St. Patrick day parade was held there while we were busy checking out the Pompeii exhibit. What a shame, especially since we would have had time for both events had we only known.

But....there was to be ANOTHER parade, this on on Sunday afternoon, down on FM1960. FM means "Farm to Market" road, which it was years and years ago. Now it is just a long drive with traffic signals every other block, and road construction to make you go absolutely crazy anytime you have to go on the FM.

Well, anything for a St. Patrick's parade! The one downtown San Diego is a pinching and kissin' and dancing and music fest not to be missed. Maybe this parade would be the same!

Laura and I headed out while Bernie went to yoga class. His knee needs the exercise and we shoo'd him along. We found parking at the very end of the parade route. A man was selling pinapples, mangos and watermelons out of the back of his truck.

Very Irish, don't you think?

Well, how about selling purses out of the trunk of your car then?

Wearing green to these kinds of events is important if you want to get into the spirit of things. This person has his own take on "spirit" and "green"; green skulls never said "Erin go braugh!" to me before, but then again, I must remind myself the importance of intercultural interpretation.

Scottish kilts and cowboy hats is another example of interesting intercultural celebratory attire.

If you are Mexican however, you just go with MEXICAN. Period. Not sure why the flag though. Maybe I should have stopped him and explained how to cross back over the border where his flag would be appropriate. I still don't know what the white things on his belt were. Onions?

The crowd had a high percentage of Hispanics, mostly wearing red, and eager to get anything that might be FREE.

Or at least that's what it seemed like was going on.

Any motion of something being tossed lead to a tidal wave of people scrambling to get a tootsie roll or stand of beads.

Ahhh...the man of the hour: St. Patrick hisself.

The restaurant "Wings and Things" (pictured in the background) has always mystified us. What exactly do you suppose "things" might be?

Laura is dressed in classic California Irish girl togs. She even had sparkly green eyelashes!

Back in San Diego she would have gotten lots of Irish hugs and kisses in that outfit.

I got a round of applause for my outfit when I stepped into the street to see if the parade was coming. I think the parade attendees thought I was a float.

And yes, there really is a town called "TOMBALL" with a fire station nearby.

The wind was really flipping my skirt around. I stood still and still looked like I was dancing a jig.

This woman clearly has no tolerance for anything except Yankee sensibilities. Stars and Stripes forever!

This guy apparently is "black Irish." Check out our gas prices; don't we have the luck here?

The parade was simply weird. Everyone in the parade threw Mardi Gras beads to the crowd.

And not just green beads either. No Irish music either. Rock and roll, Elvis, Regga...everything BUT Irish.
It was very disappointing.
Next year let's go to a parade in San Diego, Boston or Dublin instead.

Back home it was time to start the kitty parade. Laura wrangled an Irish necklace around the neck of our resident orange man. He was not amused.

I flashed my tattoo-for-a-day, and thought of my Irish brother-in-law Joe, he who wears a shamrock tattoo-for-a-lifetime.

Hart really got into the spirit of things, and not only wore the shamrock collar, he also made his eyes glow green! Grey tuxedo wearing cats always have class and are up for any occasion.

He sat under the coffee table and matched his ears up with the wood carving.

Cute kitties.

Tiggie finally decided to just go with it.

They almost has a nice Irish brawl too.

Bernie broke it up.

Our traditional Irish dinner: Corned Beef and cabbage, and Colcannon.
We really missed having Jeff with us for the meal.

Colcannon is mash potatoes, scallions, and cabbage, butter, salt and milk mashed together.
Delicious! Traditionally you hide a coin in it too, the one who gets it gets extra luck.

We've have Irish music playing for the last week...the mantle decorated since March 1st...

Bernie flew out to Arizona early today so we had to do most of our celebration this weekend.

This morning Laura and I took a Zumba class where we did Irish step dancing between salsa numbers. Worked our butts off!

So...what are you doing today?

How are you celebrating?

Think about making some of my Irish soda bread for is so easy and delicious!


3 Tablespoons butter softened.

2 1/2 cups flour

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoons salt

1/3 cup raisin (optional)

3/4 cup buttermilk

Cut the butter into the flour, soda and baking powder, and salt until the mix looks like fine crumbs. Stir in raisins and buttermilk.

Turn mix onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Shape into a round loaf about six inches in diameter. Place on a greased cookie sheet or parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

Cut an X about 1/4 of the way through the loaf with a floured knife. Bake at 375 degrees until golden brown, 35-45 minutes.

(I've made it with milk curled with lemon juice in a pinch, and also with plain yogurt/milk mix as well.)