Friday, May 22, 2015

What Hangs in the Window

My son's third grade rendering of the Charles Bridge in Prague

We just had our windows cleaned, which was more than overdue after a lapse of a few years. This is a major undertaking and takes the crew a few hours. We are on the third floor and our windows are double hung and from the 1920s, so the window washers have to heave out storm windows and climb up ladders. For me it meant clearing not only the space in front of the windows, but also the windows themselves, and it made me look more closely at what we have hanging in our windows. Why does it hang there? And why the hell does no one dust it?

Dirty windows

Clean windows

One reason I drag my feet for undertaking chores like this exactly all that comes with it. Because once I take the stuff down, I better dust it, right? Clearly I'm not dusting it otherwise. In any case, this undertaking gave me fresh and now sparkling appreciation for our window decorations.

A poster that used to hang in my corporate office

A winter porcelain plate my dad bought as a part of four-seasons collection; sadly he passed away before the next season's edition was issued.

I've featured this crystal before; it is a gift from an old friend I am no longer friends with.

Glass orbs bought at our local 57th Street Art Fair

Cleaning, finally!

Star of David on a string with smaller Stars of David, bought in Jerusalem

Chamsa in the kitchen window, a gift from my sister-in-law who bought it at the Jewish Museum in Berlin.

It occurs to me, now that I've put this together, that even my window decorations reflect the ingredients of our lives, relationships to people, often poignant, and to places.

So this begs the question, dear readers: What hangs in your windows?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Sweetest Little Gift

I just had to share this: My 17-year-old son gave me this for Mother's Day--a tiny rose he crafted from tin and copper, propped into the cutest little vase, namely one of his tiny apothecary jars (he's really a chemist). Goes to show that a lot of love can come in a tiny object.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Thank You, Abigail Thomas

Once in a while a book comes along that is like an old armchair. You simply don't want to get up. You could read on and on until your butt falls asleep.

Abigail Thomas's new memoir What Comes Next and How to Like It is such a book. It's really an homage to aging and to caring too much about many things. And about shutting the door on the world once in a while and not bothering with it for a few days (my favorite part!).

Thank you, Abigail Thomas, for letting me sit in your armchair of a book for a few hours, for inviting me into this version of your life, and for spoiling me with delightful phrases like these, all underlined in my dog-eared copy:

"I can't put the sky on until the sun sets." (on painting)

"I realized friendship required attention, like a houseplant."

"I have metabolized this stuff, I think, but every once in a while it returns in its original form and towers over everything. Like grief."

"It was unpredictable, this moment, but it was always on its way."

"I used to get upset if somebody I didn't like loved a book I loved. That's my book, I'd think."

"Sometimes I wonder if I might be missing something with only dogs for companionship, but then I think about mornings. First there would be the discovery that there is no milk for someone who takes it in his coffee. Then the likelihood of conversation."

"I don't remember any of this; it's like being a character in someone else's story."

"I don't want to be filled with love, or longing, or desire, those emotional states I once pursued, but now think of as distractions from life rather than as life itself."

"I am used to never getting used to it." (grief for her husband)

"In order not to want what I don't really want, I am careful about the movies I watch and I play music only in the car."

"But when it gets dark, I'm off the hook. The day is officially rolled up and put away."

"A couple of years later my family moved away and the future shifted."

"We are electric after all, which is hard to remember because inside we are so wet."

"It's like being served a meal you didn't order and couldn't possibly eat, and all I want to do is send it back to the kitchen."

"There isn't any deep here. Just the simple desire to be not living one's life."

"I feel the dark god of nicotine raise himself on one elbow in my bloodstream. What took you so long, girl? he asks lazily."

"And that awful phrase bangs around in the back of my mind: 'likely to recur.'"

"Napping is divine, but I no longer have all the time in the world."

Monday, May 4, 2015

Missing the Japanese Garden

I miss the Osaka Japanese Garden; now is the time of year when I would seek it out on a spring time walk. My kids consider it "theirs." Goes to show how vulnerable our love for a public place is, because currently Wooded Island in the Jackson Park lagoon, where the Japanese Garden is situated, is fenced off and under construction. In fact, the entire lagoon, south of the Museum of Science and Industry and a few blocks from where we live, is drained. Since I can't go on a real stroll in the Japanese Garden, I decided I'll dig into my picture trove and go on a virtual one. These photos are from two years ago.

The garden should look approximately like this right now as most trees along the lakefront (Lake Michigan is a "block" to the right of where you are "standing" in this picture) are still not green. To the left in the background is the rear portico of the Museum of Science and Industry.

How clean was that lagoon? And yet Wooded Island was always popular with local fishermen. They are now displaced, too.

In about two weeks, the garden should look like this, if it is even tended to. The next set of pictures were taken mid May in 2013. Off in the distance is my son. As I was saying, the garden is really his, and that of many other neighborhood children, I am sure.

This is just like a tenderly brushed-in water color, isn't it? What delight for the soul after a long and gray winter!

The pagoda--the perfect spot for a little picnic, even when it's damp and nippy. These days we can only glimpse the top of the pagoda's roof as we drive by.

Be well, dear garden! I hope no one hurts you in the interim, and I hope you will reawake to your old serene splendor whenever the City of Chicago wraps up its Wooded Island restoration project.