This guy is from Augustus Sherman’s collection of Ellis Island portraits. The photo is dated 1906. He’s listed simply as “Romanian shepherd.”
I looked up the May Day celebrations and rituals of Romania (nearly every country’s got some), and this apotropaic one charmed me:
“The entries to the animals’ shelters are adorned with green branches. All branches are left in place until the wheat harvest when they are used in the fire which will bake the first bread from the new wheat.”
To be clear, the fire is to bake the bread.
Definitely only the bread.
Definitely not the sad American co-ed’s bad boyfriend dressed in a bear suit.
There’s a cliche saying among writers that goes, “I don’t like writing. I like having written.” I feel that way about moving. I don’t like moving. I like having moved.
Justin and I are getting ready to move into a new place in a few months. I’m pumped for more space, a sunroom that has had me salivating with possible arrangements and activities since I first laid eyes on it in December, and — the holy grail of any Chicago spot at a decent price — an in-unit washer and dryer and central air conditioning.
Still. I am feeling major resistance to actually doing the damn thing. I envy the wealthy if only for the fact that they could just hire someone to pack up all their stuff, move it, unpack it, set it up, and hand off the keys to their velvety-soft richie-rich hands in one afternoon.
It’s not like Justin and I have a ton of stuff to move. (We live in a one-bedroom apartment and are jaded from so many prior moves that we’re more likely to throw stuff out before it’s time rather than hoard it up until we have to get rid of it.) And it’s not like we’re moving that far away. (Literally a 15-minute walk, three-minute drive.)
Moving is just one of those things that will always suck. Even for wealthy people with personal packers and Botoxed hands.
I accept this. So to motivate myself, I’m doing what any self-respecting middle-class lady would do: Pinning allllll the decor dreams for this future home on Pinterest. In my head, I’ve lived in at least five different versions of that coveted sunroom at this point. Now I’ve moved on to decorating the bathroom in my mind.
Justin and I have a macro.baby bedspread at our current joint. We’ll probably get a new one for our next place. We talked about doing a macro.baby shower curtain and clock combo too.
And that, my friends, is the key to a lasting creative partnership. Get you a lover who genuinely likes the ish you make!
We saw our families for the first time after more than a year away.
I earned the best job I’ve ever had.
I was published in one new literary journal.
I was exhibited in two new art galleries.
I was accepted into a prestigious novel-writing program.
I found a new place to live with my best friend / creative partner / husband.
I deepened fledgling friendships into true sisterhood.
I learned to boogie board in Maui, which scratched my itchy wild side in a way I haven’t felt since I quit drinking.
I celebrated five years sober. (!!!!!)
I passed through something, some darkness I have been navigating for 20 years. I have finally found my way to the home inside myself. I’ve opened the front door. I’ve stepped inside. Next year, I’ll figure out how to turn the lights on.
And, of course, I got to know Tina Turner better. 😉 This quote from the documentary TINA is my favorite of the year:
Look at what I have done in this lifetime with this body. I’m a girl from a cotton field that pulled myself above what was not taught to me.
I hope you have the very best new year. (“Simply the best,” perhaps?)
Keep pulling yourself above what was not taught to you.
Chicago friends, come see two of my newest pieces in person, plus work from these awesome other artists!
The Fulton Street Collective group show Journey / Explore opens this Friday, December 10, from 7-10 pm.
The address is 1821 W. Hubbard St. (on Hubbard between Wolcott and Wood, and NOT on Kinzie… that’ll send you to the alley, and that’s not where the show will be though perhaps that’s a cool idea for next time??)
Tickets are $5 and there’s a capacity limit (because 😷), so snag yours now!
Glessner House, located in Chicago’s Prairie Avenue Historic District, was designed by American architect Henry Hobson Richardson and completed in 1887.
Richardson studied at Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, which encouraged quick conceptual sketches and detailed perspective drawings that could and should be followed through to physical completion of a space.
In April 1886, Richardson completed the design for the house.
Three weeks later he was dead.
This sprawling residence was built for the Glessner family, wealthy from 19th Century manufacturing of agricultural equipment. It was home to a child who would grow up to be very important due to homes of a different scale: Frances Glessner Lee.
Frances was the first female police captain in the U.S. and “the mother of forensic science.” In her 40s, Frances began making miniature dioramas that depicted grisly murder scenes. The replicas were designed to be educational tools for homicide detectives and the fledgling field of medical examination and crime scene investigations.
Pictured: Detail of “Kitchen,” from the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Deaths.
The dioramas, eventually becoming Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Deaths, were precise — down to the make of the mousetrap and the bloat of the body. Many are still used today to train detectives, and the answers or real-life cases from which they were inspired remain under lock and key.
Also awesome? It’s rumored Frances was the character inspiration for everyone’s favorite brilliant amateur detective in gaudy baubles: Murder, She Wrote’s very own Jessica Fletcher.
Following, some pics I snapped on a recent tour of the place… No crime scenes evident!
As the end of the year (aka gift giving season) rolls up with the top down, I thought I’d show off one of my favorite custom embroidery jobs from the archives.
I recently finished this custom piece for a dear friend. He wanted to gift an artwork to a friend who loved wrestling and wrestling history. He picked an image from this series of photographs by Irving Penn from 1945 and told me to have at it.
The man in this photo is Maurice Tillet (1903-1954), the most notorious wrestler of the 1940s, better known by his ring name, ~THE FRENCH ANGEL~.
“He studied 14 languages, wrote poetry, and aspired to become an actor. However, his dreams were shattered when he developed acromegaly in his twenties. … This disorder is caused by an abnormal production of growth hormone usually related to a benign tumor of the pituitary gland… With his new body, Tillet, an educated man and a lover of the fine arts, felt like a monstrosity. Unable to face a life of constant gawking and humiliation, he decided to make drastic changes and use his condition to his benefit.”
At the end of his life, Maurice was a Chicago boy. He died here, too, of a heart attack that came on after he heard that his trainer died. <sobbbbbbing>
My color choices for his wings and the stars on his belt are a direct reference to the Chicago flag.
I almost put the fourth star on Maurice’s belt too, but I just had to do something about Dorian there…
The angle of her foot, the shape of that heel… oh la la, there’s just so much I love about that aspect of the original photograph. I put the last star beneath it to give Dorian her own special place in this piece.
You know you’ve past a certain age threshold as soon as getting socks for Christmas sounds awesome. No? Well, welcome to my blog, fellow kids. Say it with me now (to the tune of LMFAO “Shots”): Socks socks socks socks socks socks! Everybody!
They have all the function you need from your footwear — not to mention the “I’m fun and love graphic design” vibe of a grown ass adult if you’re looking to demonstrate that kind of thing at a Scrabble marathon house party or whatever — plus they’re mismatched so you can feel the sloppy, IDGAF kid-ness of being a kid again.
Soft cotton/recycled-poly blend for enhanced stretch and feel
Seamless design, with reinforced toe and heel in black
Vivid color without any base color peeking through