Femmes of the Fifties: Mom’s Blog

My friend, Janice Kaplan Carno is no stranger; I’ve introduced her to you before. One of her daughters was sorting through boxes of photographs and forwarded this picture of five beauties of the fifties. Although I don’t remember posing for this picture, I realize that it’s a few members of our house plan, taken during […]

via FEMMES of the FIFTIES — bestofbarbara

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Hiking Yosemite

Walking among California’s sequoias sort of feels like being in the movie Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Your neck starts to hurt looking up at what’s considered the earth’s largest trees. They’re found in groves in and around Yosemite National Park, where we just celebrated our 35th anniversary.

Frankly, nothing there is small scale. Gigantic boulders, humungous waterfalls (roaring now thanks to the winter snowstorms), double rainbows, long drives from place to place. And the magnificent trees. Sequoias are not to be confused with the coastal redwoods, though in the same family, are deemed the world’s tallest trees.

Sequoias are known for their ability to survive. Looking at them, we noticed evidence of fire, lightning, and insects. The few that don’t make it, fall and decompose in the lush undergrowth, providing fertilizer for more growth.

Hiking the groves, I thought of politics. On one hand, the trees represent resilience; they could become the symbol of the resistance movement and offer hope. On the other, I couldn’t help comment that many politicians and policy makers need to spend some time in the national parks to see the effect of climate change.

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Edna St. Vincent Millay: Happy 125th Birthday!

A couple college friends and I decided to visit the home and gardens of famous poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, in Austerlitz, NY. We were eager to find out whether the rumors we’d heard about her – that she jumped from a dorm window at Vassar College—where we went and Millay graduated from in 1917, were true.

Her infraction, presumably to meet up with a boy or two, violated the school’s parietal rules that prevented members of opposite sexes visiting each other’s dorm rooms. Though originally told she couldn’t march in graduation, then Vassar President Henry Noble MacCracken reversed the decision, perhaps recognizing the bad publicity Vassar would receive if it punished its famous poet. (The parietal rules were lifted in 1969 when the college began admitting men.)

This year is Millay’s 125th birthday and also the 100th anniversary of her Vassar graduation. To honor the event, the college library has devoted several display cases to Millay, displaying artifacts from the house that are curated with some of her poems printed alongside.

The house tour (no photos allowed) included visits to her bedroom, study, dining room, living room, complete with two grand pianos; and her library. Pouring rain prevented us from walking around the gardens except to see the in-ground pool, secluded by landscaping where Millay was known to have wild parties that included bathing “au natural,” considered shocking at the time.

Millay, who was called “Vincent, “ conveniently masking her gender from publishers eager to print her poems, grew up in Maine, the eldest of three sisters. Her mother taught her to read through poetry and to play piano. Showing a talent for poetry at a young age, she entered and won a local contest. She enrolled at Vassar in 1913, already a published poet, and continued to write poems and plays to help support her studies until she graduated in 1917.

Millay moved to Greenwich Village, NY, and developed a reputation as living a bohemian lifestyle—attracting many lovers and partying, all the while writing to rave reviews and robust sales.

In 1925, Millay married Dutch businessman Eugen Boissevain, and after her 8-month, around –the- world honeymoon, she answered an ad in the New York Times for a rundown Victorian farmhouse in Austerlitz, NY.  They purchased the property, that included 600 acres of land and began restoring the house and transforming the grounds into various gardens.

She lived at Steepletop, named for a plant known as steeplebush, until her death in 1950. In 1978, the Edna St. Vincent Millay Society was created and restorations began to open the house and grounds to the public.

After our tour, we returned to Rachel’s house and enjoyed reading some of Millay’s poems as we drank wine, acting out the lines in true Millay fashion.

 

Posted in Books, celebrations, Education, Friendship, History, Museums, galleries, Reading, travel, women, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Cycling Catalonia

Thanks to good Internet marketing, I opened an ad for MontefuscoCycling.

We’ve been to Madrid in Spain and I was curious about exploring the countryside on a bike. Catalonia, located in the northwest corner of Spain, bordered by the coast and mountains, is well-known in cycling circles by teams training for big events, like the Tour de France.

While the mountain roads are steep and curvy, there’s little traffic except for other cyclists, and the rare car slows and waits with patience and reverence I’ve never witnessed. Claudio, the owner of the company, created several days of self-guided touring and he carried our luggage from hotel to hotel.

We ended in the small city of Figueres and toured the Salvador Dali museum, then spent a day and a half in Barcelona, taking in as much Antoni Gaudi architecture as out time allowed. So inspiring.

 

 

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It’s ANZAC Day! Make Anzacs!

It’s ANZAC Day; the holiday that commemorates the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War on April 25, 1915 at Gallipoli.

During the summer of 1974, I was an AFS student to Tasmania, Australia before I entered college.  I brought back this recipe for Anzac cookies (called biscuits). They quickly became a family favorite and a popular gift for others.  They’re easy to make: one bowl does it all.

Anzacs
1 cup sugar (you can cut a bit)
1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
1 cup flour (I use ½ whole wheat, ½ white)
1 cup rolled oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
½ lb shortening- margarine, Promise, etc. butter not really needed
1 tb. Golden Syrup (a British sugar syrup, I use corn syrup)
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 325.   Melt shortening with syrup over low flame. Boil some water at the same time. When it boils add the baking soda to about ½ cup of water.

Mix all dry ingredients together, add melted ingredients, vanilla, and baking soda/water mixture. Lightly grease baking trays or use parchment paper. Drop batter with a teaspoon, about  2 inches apart—they spread.

Bake for about 12 minutes until golden.  They can be a bit undercooked and will become crisp as they cool.  Enjoy!

My mother wrote in her blog last week about matzo brei and how my father had suggested it was the cure for world peace. I’d venture that Anzacs are a close second.

Posted in celebrations, Family, food, History, Recipes, travel, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Biology and Chemistry got me into Medical School but the Arts made me a better doctor

Poignant post from my friend Judy Washington.

A Family Doctor's Reflection

I am an avid watcher of Public TV. My senior year in HS, my English teacher was such a brilliant man.  We were reading Shakespeare’s plays.  One assignment was King Lear.  I so enjoyed the play but it came to life for me when the PBS Great Performances series aired the play with James Earl Jones as King Lear, Ellen Holly as Reagan, Rosalind Cash as Goneril and as Cordelia.  It was my first to experience an all-Black cast performing Shakespeare.  I was mesmerized.  PBS has provided many memorable experiences for me such as Dance in America: Martha Graham Dance Company, Brideshead Revisited, and The Six Wives of Henry VIII.   I watched Upstairs, Downstairs and even Poldark I. Who could forget How Green Was My Valley and Madame Bovary?

Public TV has always been part of my life. I watched those early cooking shows with Julia…

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Letter to Congressman Lance: Protect the ACA

This past week President Trump released his budget that basically eliminates aid to the poor and elderly, and federal support of the arts and sciences. He insulted another world leader and ally, Angela Merkel of Germany, and accused the UK of spying on him. He continues to maintain that President Obama wiretapped his phones, and rants and raves and tweets about anything not going his way. He fired 46 US attorneys and defends all in his realm who hobnob with the Russians.

Here’s my letter this week to my congressman, Leonard Lance. (NJ 7th). I receive automatic email replies. I figure one day I’ll march into his office with all my letters and ask why he hasn’t answered my concerns.

Dear Representative Lance:

The House Republican plan to overhaul the Affordable Care Act will affect the citizens of New Jersey, including your constituents. As one of them, I have yet to hear you express your concern about the loss of coverage that will occur under the GOP plan, particularly to low-income adults and children. Either you believe that people have no right to health care, or you’re a complete coward and won’t stand up to a president who doesn’t care about the nation’s people.

We went to New Orleans for a few days to visit our daughter. We took a kayak swamp tour outside of the city. The guide talked about how the swamp won’t be there in 50-60 years as the salt water mixing with the fresh is killing off the vegetation. Drilling for oil trumped environmental concerns.

 

 

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