Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Bradford Pear.

My Mom did this drawing of the Bradford Pear Tree and added a cardinal to it. I thought it was lovely and I've never seen her create anything like it. She made it into Christmas cards. I love anything original. She's original. And wonderful, creative, and an overall great Mom. Thanks Helen!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Brad's Pug: It's Mao.

I did this as a surprise for my brother tomorrow and I literally CAN'T WAIT for him to open it. Sometimes I think it's crap and sometimes I think I nailed it.

I used a good friends' pug as my model, a pic I grabbed off Flickr. If you know Brad, we have a love/hate relationship with pugs in general, and the more we work them into conversations, photographs, etc. the better. So, him opening a little 10x10 painting of a pug portrait is priceless.

Aaron and Kate, thank you for inadvertently lending me Mao for this project. I can't say there is any resemblance, but there is a dog here, that Brad can imagine is a pug, and Mao is always around in spirit as a pug we really do enjoy.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Nutcracker.

So I'm just going to say it. I'm kinda bummed we didn't get tickets this year. Sometimes I guess, things just don't happen. But when I'm wrapping presents, or writing this post, and listening to this music in the background, I regret I didn't pursue a family outing. It's hard to coordinate, and check schedules, and some people in my family (Dad?) I know don't like the event of it all as much as I do. So I let it slide.

In my mind, it was my Aunt Pat's tradition, and she was the one who got us there. (In fairness, it may have really been Grandma Ione). As little kids, Aunt Pat always kind of ring-led any downtown excursions, and I definitely distinctly remember going thru parking garages that are of course everywhere in the city. But as a kid from the quaint suburbs, I had not had much exposure to these immense, complex structures, except on these outings, and they were about as memorable to me as whatever it was we went to go see. Those grated air vents? That seemed like they could suck you in! Wow.

Again as a kid, I never really 'got' alot of what we were doing, seeing and listening to. It was always a drag the night we HAD to go to The Nutcracker. I didn't get the performance of it all I guess. Or how much skill and practice it took for those snowflakes to dance across the stage to this beautiful music, performed LIVE, or how the whole show came together in the first place. I liked that kids were part of the story, and the fantasy of it all, but I didn't understand what it took for those dancers to leap across the stage, or how the music has been around for years and years. How way back when, this all was debuted, and how now it is a tradition many people experience and look forward to all year and all that. You know what I mean?

But what's funny is, I have pictures of Brad and I, as early as 5 and 3 years old, where we'd be 'dressed' in costumes (mostly pajamas) after seeing The Nutcracker.

My little brother. He was a willing participant to many of my schemes, including those where I had him dressed up as Clara – a girl no less. So many times in fact, that around the holidays, my Dad will still sometimes refer to him as 'Clara'. I can hear it now, my father calling to him, Oh Clare-ahh! when he's just hanging out as a grown adult man today.

I got the original nutcracker figure of our family's collection under the tree when I was about 5. I LOVED it, and I'm sure I carried it around like a baby doll. We used it to actually crack nuts, to probably my parents horror, since it was actually meant to be a decoration. Then suddenly after that first year, the annual nutcracker under the tree became part of one of 'Brad's' collections. My first one, with the grey rabbit fur beard and hair and eyebrows, I'm sure is standing on a beam somewhere in his home today. Thankfully one he received at my apartment a few years ago never made it into his suitcase for the return flight. He's NEVER getting it back, and it's pictured above, The Hunter, I think.

Anyway, after this very long day, in a sort of long week of never-ending days and nights, I am thinking about The Nutcracker Suite, and how much it meant and still means to me and my family, even if we don't get to see it together every year.

Happy, happy holidays to all (4 of you) who visit me here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Reason for the Season.

I'm on Day One of 12 in a row for holiday cheer. This pic is from earlier this week, where My Bestie got our entire office involved in spreading the joy by making snowflakes. I know we had no idea when it started with that first flake it could end up so beautifully... and with 100% office involvement/contribution. 71 flakes. Amazing.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Handel's Messiah @ St. Clement's.

Talk about Holly & Jolly: Joan and I went and saw my friend Kelly and the choir and orchestra from St. Clement's Church in Lincoln Park perform Handel's Messiah by candlelight this afternoon/evening. It was a beautiful performance and the church was incredible. I'm pretty sure we accidentally sat ourselves in the "preferred seating" section, so we were right up there and had a great view. The sound was fantastic and the as the program described, "the building resounds with a near-perfect acoustic unparallelled in the Chicago area". These pictures are pretty bad, and photographing the performance was not allowed, but maybe you get the idea. The architecture is a Byzantine and Romanesque combination, with a soaring dome and amazing arches, mosaics and paintings.

What I also thought was interesting were the instruments used by the orchestra, which was comprised of a group of musicians mostly specializing in "playing music of the baroque and classical eras using period instruments, which use gut strings, resulting in a warmer, more vocal tone than their modern counterparts. The baroque oboes are also warmer and more full-bodied, and the trumpets are valveless." (!!!)

There is a definite threat of this becoming a little holiday tradition I embrace. And although I am not catholic, I can see myself visiting this church again on another occasion. I find it hard to believe that a church choir and orchestra can perform such a show. They are clearly a special assembly of people. I wonder how many of them migrated to the church to become part of this group compared to being members of the congregation first?

What a fine, festive evening spent in the company of some good old friends.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The 'Springs.

I wish I felt more, or was more inspired lately. I don't have much of a drive to seek out new things to post, or worse, regurgitate things others have already found. So here are a few shots I took of my home town, which I love. I love going to the butcher and bakery, waiting forever for my number to be called, and being met by the most amazing smiling familiar faces behind the counter. Or running into old friend's parents, also waiting for their numbers to be called. I love that when I go to the shoe store or fruit store or hardware store, people ask about my Mom and Dad, or Brad.

Tree lights on the pretty trees around the Water Tower uptown.

The best was last summer, when we'd gone to get my fire pit at the local "True Value" hardware store, when the person who helped us knew my mother, BY NAME. And I mean, after she'd been gone for 10 years. He practically asked her if she wanted it on the "house charge". I feel funny about it sometimes, but I literally grew up in Pleasantville.