February 29, 2016 (060/366)
"They are not long, the days of wine and roses." ~ Ernest Dowson
Well maybe not, but they were long enough for me. For the past three years, I've challenged myself to capture the rosy hues of February's celebrations; yet, despite all the Valentine's Day displays and the lovely birthday gifts, it isn't easy finding color in the depths of our Wisconsin winters. Still, I've made it to the end of another February with a extra day this year, so I'll end the month the way it began: "Roses are red, but I'm missing the blue -- the green, the yellow, the purple too!" Here's hoping for a colorful spring!
February 25, 2016 (055/366)
"A painting requires a little mystery, some vagueness, and some fantasy. When you always make your meaning perfectly plain you end up boring people." ~ Edgar Degas
The same could be said for books. This week, I read The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan. Set in Paris during la Belle Epoque, the novel commingles the stories of the real-life model for Degas’s Little Dancer Aged Fourteen and a notorious criminal trial of the same era. I enjoy historical fiction -- novels such as Luncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland (the story behind Renoir's Le déjeuner des canotiers) and The Paris Wife by Paula McLean (recounting the life of Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley, in Paris in the 1920s). Yet this novel seemed go too far -- taking too many liberties, focusing more on the seedy side of the Belle Epoque, and trying to tie too many artistic, literary, and historical events. Perhaps Ms. Buchanan is emulating the naturalism of Zola's L'Assommoir, also featured in the book; or perhaps I just hoped for the softer focus of a Degas painting -- "a little mystery, some vagueness, and some fantasy."
I would argue that the same could be said about a woman, but OK, I'll confess. Beneath my classic predominantly-black uniform, beats the heart of a "girlie girl." You may recognize the subtle signs -- feminine details, signature jewelry, and bows on my shoes (almost all of them!). Although I'd never wear a pink tutu, I secretly love this pretty, pale shade. Maybe I can channel my inner ballerina with a pair of pale pink ballet flats (with bows, of course!) or maybe I'll just keep projecting my girlie sensibilities on Miss Piper!
February 18, 2016 (049/366)
"Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words." ~ Plautus
Google (and several Facebook friends) informed me that today is National Drink Wine Day, so cheers! PS: I spy 2 wine glasses (and no, I haven't even had a sip yet)! Do you see them?
February 17, 2016 (048/366)
"Spring stirs under silent snow." ~ Terri Guillemets
Great bunches of pussy willows and tulips have replaced withered, red roses in the floral department this week. The sun is shining, the days are getting longer, and there are 50's in the forecast for the weekend. I think I've caught a touch of spring fever!
« L'appréciation est une chose merveilleuse:
Il fait ce qui est excellent dans d'autres
appartiennent à nous aussi. » ~ Voltaire
"Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well." I am so fortunate to work with caring, inspiring, and dedicated colleagues. Their creativity, collaboration, trust, and appreciation is truly a gift. Merci, Nan, pour ce gentil cadeau!
February 10, 2016 (041/366)
"Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam." ~ St. Ignatius of Loyola
Each time I return to Marquette, I instantly feel a familiar sense of faith and inspiration. St. Joan of Arc chapel was my sanctuary for nine years -- a warm, quiet place to put away my books and concerns and end each day in grateful reflection. It has been twenty-two years since I graduated (for the third time!), yet even now, whenever I feel frustrated, I try to remember that the greatest lesson I learned here was to work hard to make a difference, to "Be the Difference," not for myself, but for the greater glory.
February 2, 2016 (033/366)
« A la Chandeleur, l'hiver se passe ou prend vigueur. »
One of the best things about teaching French again is the opportunity to share cultural activities with my students. In France, the month of February begins with La Chandeleur, 40 days after Christmas. This religious celebration recalls the Presentation of Jesus to the Temple (Luke 2:22-40), but its origins date back to a pagan ritual of lighting candles to purify the new year. The Church adapted the tradition into a blessing of candles to protect and sanctify the homes of believers. Since February is the the start of the growing season, seeds are also blessed and planted. Finally, having almost made it through the winter, the tradition is to celebrate prosperity and renewal by indulging in crêpes.
In keeping with tradition, my students held a gold coin in one hand, made wishes, and flipped a crêpe with the other. Most were skillful enough to catch the crêpe in the pan, so their wishes are bound to come true before this year's harvest. Flipping crêpes was fun, but of course the best part was eating them! The girls brought classic toppings including berries, chocolate, Nutella, powdered sugar, and whipped cream, but some also added an American touch with peanut butter! We all agreed that this tradition is much more fun than wondering if the groundhog will see his shadow.
February 1, 2016 (032/366)
"Bright reds - scarlet, pillar-box red, crimson or cherry...
There is certainly a red for everyone." ~ Christian Dior
It has become my February tradition to focus on rosy hues, on hearts and flowers and beautiful tokens of affection that brighten these winter days and make this month short and sweet. Enjoy the loveliness of the next 29 days.
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