Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fighting Forms

Franz Marc 1914

He painted this work on the eve of World War I, when he saw the war as a horrific necessity that would purify Europe of the evils that had enveloped it - even his own beloved country, Germany.

In 1911 he, August Macke, Wassily Kandinsky - and a few others decided to break off from the accepted German arts hierarchy and form Der Blaue Reiter, the seeds of German expressionism. They used strong colors, modified cubist forms, and stark, nearly abstract compositions to convey the very strongest human emotions extremely effectively. In his eyes, colors had certain emotions that could not be separated from the pigments. I wonder if he had synesthesia - a type of sensory cross-over in the brain, in his case where colors perceived through the eyes stimulated the emotion centers in the brain along with the sight centers. We all have some sort of emotional attachment to colors, but his seemed most visceral.

I have had a hard time taking my eyes off from his works the last few days. Fighting Forms in particular seems to sum up, in a way words can't the emotions rolling around in my country, my family, and in my own soul.

Franz Marc was included on a list of culturally significant men who were in the Army that were to be kept out of combat - painters, composers, writers, and the like. He was killed in 1916 at the battle of Verdun before this edict could be carried out.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

There are just 4 'working days' until the Halloween party that I SO GENEROUSLY offered to let Hannah, Amanda, and Nicole host here on Halloween night. I keep thinking of more things I need to do to get ready. The weather looks like it will be clear and cold, so the party will be partly out doors - but it will also be partly indoors. I finished off the costumes Hannah and Meredith will wear - Meredith has her own plans, including working at the Corkscrew on Halloween. I think I'll just plan on attending as a wigged-out mom. HHmmm. I'd better get to work.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Moving Back Home

Some homeschooling friends of mine are moving back to Tennessee. By the way Tessa talks when she's in a group, you'd think that this was something they had planned to do at this stage of their life all along. Truly a lady that has the proverbial 'stiff upper lip'. In our EMail exchange another picture emerges. She's a 28yo homeschooling mom of three whose husband has lost his job, and they are cutting their losses here in Illinois, and moving back home - literally in with her parents. She is selling everything she can and planning on moving 'lean'. Most sadly, she is letting go all of her homeschool items, and plans on putting her kids in public school after the move. Tennessee is a tough school to homeschool in, and with their money situation they will both be looking for work.

So, I personally know this one story about the economic downturn knocking a formerly middle-class family several rungs down the ladder. I'm sure there are dozens, even hundreds more just out of my hearing. It has me spooked just a bit. Not so much personally because at least so far our resource flow is stable - but for our kids, and their friends, and my friends and, and, and...


Saturday, October 25, 2008


It's a lovely day.

One of those days where the weather is good, the talk is frivolous, and the items on the agenda are all about ease and entertainment.

Our friend - and the best uncle my girls have - Garrett is here from Florida, and it always great to have him around. I hope to lure him back into Illinois as soon as possible.

We went to run some errands, stopped at the new place where Meredith is working for a visit during the '10 wines for under $10.00' themed Saturday tasting, and are planning on eating the best steaks I've saved from the 1/6 of a cow we purchased last summer for dinner.

Trouble is, the more I try and forget all of the little irritations that are rubbing up against my life right now, the more I think about them.

I need to have a stern talk with myself, and get a little perspective.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Check out my facebook for pictures from D.C.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Vermeer Spotting

Johannes Vermeer is one of the artists I admire most. His oeuvre is very small - only 35 accepted works exist. I've seen 13 of those in museums in the US and Europe in the last few years. I missed two when we ran out of time at the Louvre. There are 8 more in New York City. Some day I'll have to make that trip. I hope someday soon.


Sudden insight

Yesterday, our last day in the Washington D.C. area for this trip, we took a bus to Georgetown to do a little window shopping. It's a very interesting area. All of the very finest and most expensive of high-end of Generican shops have staked out a place along M st. NW or the surrounding cross streets: Black and White, Versace, 9 West, Sephora, Restoration Hardware, Lush, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, Clyde's - there's all there. We saw some pretty neat things, and actually parted with a little cash in the Lush store (high end bath products)

One store, however stopped this hick mid westerner in her tracks. Dean & DeLuca. It's listed on the interweb as a 'Purveyor of fine foods, wine, and dinnerware'. It's the most upscale, exclusive, elite grocery store I've ever laid eyes on. They had Pavarotti playing over the Bose surround system. They had Prime cow for $40.00 a pound in the meat case. They had stacks of perfect fruit (out of season), cheeses from across the globe, only the finest Balsamic vinegars, oils, sauces and condiments, and blocks of several different gourmet salts they would sell you a chunk off from for your salt grinder. They had two (maybe more, I saw two) nattily dressed and name-tagged wine experts orbiting the wine section to help with the selection of the perfect bottle to go with that caviar you picked up to snack on in front of the TV tonight.

They were also very busy. People were hauling large arm baskets full of expensive edibles to the check outs, people with little kids in tricked out strollers and reusable grocery bags stocking up on tiny $12.00 jars of jam and artisan breads.

In the back of the store - near the confectionery - I suddenly had a thought: 1/2 of the world is starving. Many of the people who want me to pay more taxes and be more mindful of my own impact of the Earth are the liberals - politicians, bankers and lawyers, think tankers - who live in the rarefied air right here in Georgetown and places like it. And here they are doing their shopping at Dean & DeLuca.

I love little 'gourmet' treats occasionally. A trip to Chicago recently ended with a side stop at Whole Foods for some unusual cheese and a couple of bottles of wine I'd never tried, but Dean & DeLuca depressed me. I had a dollar in my pocket that I was saving for the bus fare. I covertly dropped it into the cup of the homeless lady in the wheelchair 1/2 a block up the street. It was a tiny bit of penance for living like I do.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

It's just Art.

It's hard to talk about how looking at stuff makes me feel. I'm a very visual person - so I really don't seem to have the vocabulary to express what it is I'm experiencing when I look at these things I enjoy so much. I've heard a few blow-hard lecturers go on and on about line, texture, tones, moods, colors, bleah, bleah. I've seen a lot of stuff hanging in grand museums that boggle me - and not in a good way - I wonder what they're doing there. But there's lots of great stuff that makes me just keep coming back and back. Things that I know so well that I can see every detail with my eyes closed. Stuff I enjoy so much it's impossible to talk about.

Friday, October 17, 2008

I'd be thinner...

If I lived in the city - or if I visited more often. We've been walking everywhere. Well, everywhere we're not riding the Metro. The weather is great, Wish you were here.

D.C. Comments #1

~ flying on the 6:20 from STL pretty much bites. But getting to D.C. early on the first day here makes up for it mostly. The Hotle had a room ready for us at 9:45 AM. We didn't have to store our luggage, and could clean up some before we hit the town. Nice.

~ $40.00 for two (very nice) chunks of pizza, a good sizes salad, drinks and two little extra things. Welcome to eating in a town where everyone is either a tourist to be bled dry (like us) or expensing every dime ( like us, too.)

~ The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum is awesome. I wonder how they got all of the Soviet era stuff. Fire sale when the CCCP broke up?

~ The Hershorn Museum is the best 'Modern and Contemporary' art museum I've visited. I managed to spend about 45 minutes there without out and out laughing in derision at anything. Can't wait until Saturday when I can spend the day at the National Gallery and the Phillips Collection. Can't wait!

~ Today's plans include a tour of the Capitol arranged through Dick Durbin's office, Arlington National Cemetery, and The National Portrait Gallery.

cheers ~M.E.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

All that glisters is not gold

Meredith is staying in Springfield for the time being. The company in Chicago isn't all they presented themselves to be. 20 minutes of internet research likely saved thousands in moving costs, and much heartache. Now I understand why Neither she nor I had any peace of heart about this.

Off to Washington D.C. now - have a good weekend everyone. ~M.E.
M was offered the job in Chicago - I don't know what she has decided yet.
We leave for Washigton D.C. tonight
I'm awake at freakin' 3:30 AM.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

a batch of mixed feelings

By the end of next week it's very likely that I'll either be happy - but also a little sad, or I'll be sad and frustrated - but also relieved and a little glad.

You see, M Girl went to Chicago for a job interview on Friday. She fought her way through a bajillion resumes to be one of about 40 people to get an interview, and has made the cut for a second and final day-long interview next Tuesday. The company has maybe 4 jobs to fill and she was told that they are doing follow-ups with maybe 7 people.

Getting the job means a big step for her career, a decent salary and benefits, and moving to Chicago sometime before Thanksgiving. There's the Happy/Sad. I've enjoyed having her closer to home. I missed not having her around, and I'll miss it greatly again.

Not getting the job means working at the two part-time jobs she has gotten to pay the bills while continuing to look for a good career job and doing her on-line classwork - and staying in Springfield and thus close enough to hang around with us a little longer. There's the sad/happy.

So, all I can pray is that God's will in her life be done and that He'll bless her, and that He'll grant me peace either way.

I love fall. It features the best weather, best clothing and best colors in our woods. October is the month where we've transitioned from Summer back into a sensible schedule and are not yet being hounded by the upcoming Christmas season. It's a time of year to get along with stuff.

I'm not looking forward to the War of the Leaves. But that is a small price to pay. ~M

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Here's the progress on the project from a week or so back - just in case you're curious. ~M.E.
Happy Birthday Ken. Many more in your future. ~M.E.

A New Multi-Million Dollar Medical Facility

Today I had the pleasure of visiting, for the first time, the new Springfield Clinic 6th Street campus west. (insert appropriate if sarcastic awed sounds here) The first magazine I looked at was twenty-eight months old. Yup, they imported their dog eared, germy old magazines to their flashy spankin' new facility just to make us all feel at home.

Now, ain't that nice. ~M.E.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Almost exactly two months later....

Meredith lost her job at Design Ideas on 8/8. Today she has finally been able to but together a duo of part-time jobs in places she thinks she will enjoy working that will pay the bills. She is working at The Limited ( a mall clothing store), and as of next week will be working at The Corkscrew (upscale wine emporium). Between the jobs, at about 30 odd hours a week, and her full time on-line graphic design program she will be a busy person. Busy in a good way again.

Now, the only jobs she has to keep a look-out for are those that are full time and career advancing. It is easier to find a job when you already have one.

The other good news is that since her graphic design program is full time, we can put her back on our medical insurance until she is 23. That'll save her $300.00 a month.



'Every day is a gift....'

'a new and shining opportunity....'

'who knows what I could achieve....'


Yup. I've got a positive attitude.

I'm positive today would be a good day to just go back to bed.


Monday, October 6, 2008

Not into 'winging it'.

I'm in the midst of planning our trip to Washington D.C. We leave here on the night of the 16th. I like to do a good bit of pre-planning when I go on trips. I find it saves the family a lot of bumbling about, and often quite a good deal of frustration and money.

Things that I'll either know off my head, or have written down on the master plan in my pocket are; the open hours and Metro stops of the places we plan to visit, What there is to do with a teenager on Friday and Saturday night, and what things we may have wished to visit will be closed or not worth the trouble. In Washington D.C. it is also handy to know what things are free, so if we end up on the National Mall with 45 minutes to spare I'll know what's available.

Doing this also helps me know what to pack. Especially since I'm going to try to get everything in a carry-on bag. It should be pretty easy since I know all the packing tricks - but knowing that there isn't anything playing at The Kennedy Center in the evening I want to see means I can leave the posh, dressy stuff at home.

This trip has been made less stressful to plan because we will have another chance to visit the city next summer, so packing it in won't be the major goal. I'm really looking forward to visiting the National Gallery again, along with the Phillips Collection (home of Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party), The National Portrait Gallery, and the National Cathedral - none of which we saw on our last visit in 2005. Harry has requested the Air and Space Museum, and returning to the Natural History Museum - both worthy of extended visits. We've also applied for VIP tour passes for the Capitol and White House, but I've been told not to expect much from either tour. It seems that White House tours are self-guided, and very limited in scope (plus the security is so tight almost nothing is allowed inside. The Capitol tours are mostly lead by unlucky jr. staffers that may know almost nothing about the edifice or it's contents.

Hannah and I have tickets to a comedy show called Capitol Steps on Friday evening. I'm still looking for one or two other smashing activities to break up the museum hopping. ~M.E.