In Moscow they had mesh skirts around the bottom of tall buildings to protect the passersby from falling ice. Even so, people were killed each year by icicles. In Minneapolis they close the sidewalk around tall buildings when the ice starts falling.
It is St Patrick’s Day! Who doesn’t love St Patrick’s Day? The patron saint of Ireland who drove the snakes out of Ireland (even though there were no snakes in Ireland). Sub zero wind chills for the parade today. I think I’ll skip it.
I watched the film Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles the other night. It is a three and a half hour film starring and directed by Chantal Akerman, first screened in 1975. What little dialog there is is in French. It follows a single mother over three days. It is slow and mundane. She cooks, she shops, she feeds her child, she does the washing up, she takes a bath, and she provides sex for money. It is mesmerizing in its monotony. But the changes are subtle, you have to watch closely to see her controlled behavior begin to unravel. She is a complicated woman trapped in her own world. Trapped by society? Very interesting film.
She cooked potatoes every day and some kind of meat. One day it was veal. I am feeling so uninspired. Nothing sounds good lately. I’ve been watching the Sopranos. They eat mounds and mounds of pasta at every meal. Manicotti, Ricotta, Salami, meatballs, Spaghetti, Ziti, Fagioli, etc etc. What I really want is a short rib bolognese but I’m too lazy to make it.
Requiescat by Oscar Wilde
Tread lightly, she is near Under the snow, Speak gently, she can hear The daisies grow.
All her bright golden hair Tarnished with rust, She that was young and fair Fallen to dust.
Lily-like, white as snow, She hardly knew She was a woman, so Sweetly she grew.
Coffin-board, heavy stone, Lie on her breast, I vex my heart alone She is at rest.
Peace, Peace, she cannot hear Lyre or sonnet, All my life’s buried here, Heap earth upon it.
Not a very happy poem but nicely done by an Irish son….
It’s snowing again. What else is new. I saw a movie years ago, I don’t remember the name of it or really much about it except it was about some nuclear war in the future. What I remember about it was the nuclear winter. It looked like it was snowing all the time. (It might have been The Day After) When I moved to Moscow I used to say I lived in the nuclear winter because it snowed constantly. That light steady snow that never accumulated much but just kept coming down. This winter feels like that. Constant snow.
I’m typing my mother’s letters she wrote to her family from Burma in the early 50’s. I’m almost done with 1953. She helped to edit the Rangoon International Cookbook put together by women, both expats and Burmese… and Indian and Chinese, American, English, French, Australian…In the Forward it says:
“There is a Thank You written invisibly to every contributor and source of treasured recipes, named and nameless. But here we wish to record our special thanks to Mrs. Sung San, honored with Burma’s martyr-hero, and beloved herself as Daw Khan Kai for her service to her people. In the midst of new and heavy responsibilities as Chairman of the Social Planning Commission for the Union of Burma, she has found time to give us her entire delicious “company menu”, with the recipes for the nine distinctive Burmese dishes therein.” (She was Aung San Suu Kyi’s mother)
One recipe contributed by my mother is an old favorite of mine. There were no lemons in Burma but she substituted limes and that worked fine.
(Mixture may have curdled appearance, but no matter)
Beat: 2 egg whites until stiff and fold into mixture.
Pour into buttered 1.5 quart casserole. Place in pan of hot water Bake at 325°F uncovered 40-45 min or until set (1 hr).
Serve warm or chilled. I like it warm!
The cook book was published by the Woman’s Society of Christian Service of the Methodist English Church, Rangoon, Burma 1954
About this time my father was traveling around Burma visiting schools to potentially help with agricultural education. He writes:
“I returned last Friday evening from my trip up country. We had a very enjoyable trip for that area is comparatively free from insurgent activity. We were able to drive about 150 miles away from Mandalay without a guard. That has been impossible until recently. On Sunday we were in Maymyo (by car) and the following Wed. the insurgents blew up the train and killed 14 between Mandalay and Maymyo. Day before yesterday the insurgents blew up the guard train and the regular train following behind between here and Moulmein. They then attached the train and killed several and robbed all the passengers. On our trip we were royally received everywhere we went. These people genuinely seem to like to have us visit their schools. At several schools we were presented bouquets of flowers and at practically every school we had to have tea or food. All the schools are clamoring for agricultural teachers so my program should continue to grow. They have never had teachers of agriculture in the schools before and the ones I turn out this year will determine how effective my program is for I’m the only one in Burma doing this work.
The Honorable Vice President of the U.S. is visiting here this week. There was some comment in the papers before his arrival that the Communists were going to demonstrate to protest his visit here but nothing has come off. There was a short meeting on Tuesday of the Embassy and TCA personnel to meet Mr. Nixon. So, when I get home you can shake the hand that shook the hand of the Vice President.”
Yesterday we went to see Pink Floyd The Wall: A Rock Ballet presented by the Twin Cities Ballet Company. I am kind of a ballet snob so my expectations were not super high but I thought it might be interesting. The last time they performed this ballet they got some good reviews. The music was performed live by a local band as well (Momentary Lapse of Floyd).
The Fitzgerald Theater is a fairly small theater built in 1910 originally called the Sam S. Shubert Theater. It has gone through several iterations and was renamed in 1994, after native son F. Scott Fitzgerald.
The story of The Wall is kind of a sad one. The boy named Pink loses his father at a very young age and his mother becomes over protective, symbolized by bricks in a wall used to shelter him from the world. School is a bad experience with abusive teachers and it pushes him to drugs and it is down hill from there.
The musicians were on a raised platform at the back of the stage and the dancers performed between them and the audience. The only ‘set’ were a bunch of large styrofoam painted ‘bricks’ that the dancers carried around with them and built walls.
I would say overall it was interesting and there were some good dance moves. I noticed early on that the whole dance troupe was white and mostly tall blond white. Yes, we are in Minnesota, Dorothy. The band was way too loud for the venue and made it uncomfortable. I wished I had earplugs. Maybe I’m just old but I sat with my fingers over my ears most of the time. And we left at intermission.
We went home and put The Wall on YouTube and Don performed interpretive dance around the living room. Very entertaining.
Then we drove to Como Lake and took some pictures.
More snow today. I’m getting tired of it. I drove across town yesterday to meet my cousin for lunch. It honestly felt like I was crossing a minefield. I was dodging potholes all the way. Some of them were very large. I feel lucky and surprised when I find a street that is fairly smooth.
I bought my train ticket from London to Dundee online but somehow I must have screwed it up because it turns out I have two train tickets from London to Dundee on the same train, three seats apart. There are so many different ways to buy tickets I guess I went back and didn’t realize I doubled up. Now I have to go back and try to figure out how to get a refund and hope I still end up with one ticket. I am obsessing over every detail of this trip. I was fine until I realized that I arrive the morning after Coronation Day. I’m sure London will be a zoo.
Today’s featured postcards at PostcardBuzz are of Guatemala. The postcards are paired with a couple photos I took when I was was there in the 1960’s. Here is more about that trip:
My first plane trip in many years was in the first class section on a PanAm flight from Mexico City to Guatemala City when I was twelve. We were the only ones in first class so I got to be kind of chummy with the flight attendant. Toward the end of the flight he asked me how I liked the flight and how I felt about it. I thought that was kind of odd and didn’t know what he was talking about. Apparently my parents had briefed him on me and my troubles with flying, and so he had made a special effort to distract me. (We had been in a plane crash when I was 5 years old.)
In Guatemala, we rented a car and drove up the mountain to Lake Atitlan. Volcanoes surrounded the city and the lake itself was a collapsed volcanic cone. On the way up the mountain, we saw people lying by the side of the road. We didn’t know if they were dead, passed out or taking a nap. It was very odd. We later found out that the previous day was payday and they had done their celebrating and not quite made it home. Apparently it was a familiar site in the countryside. We also went to Chichicastenango and to Antigua. This was major earthquake country. Antigua was the original capital of Guatemala but in 1776 there was such a bad earthquake they moved the capital to where it is today – Guatemala City. Antigua was surrounded by three volcanoes.
There was a new part of Antigua and an old part. The old part was all ruins. It was an eerie place. It was once a major city that tumbled down and was left there like a memorial. We stopped at a small restaurant and ate our meal in the yard. There was a group of musicians that wandered from table to table. We could see laundry hanging at the end of the lawn.
From there, we continued to El Salvador. One night in San Salvador we were staying in a high-rise hotel and I was sleeping on a cot. The building started to sway and my cot started moving across the room. All I could do was laugh at the crazy “ride”, as earthquakes were so common at home in Mexico City. In retrospect I guess we were lucky the building didn’t come down…
(excerpt from Expat Alien, My Global Adventures)
I continue to work on my mother’s letters. In one of them she describes a meal they had at a Chinese restaurant in Rangoon (1953).
The dinner was held at one of the Chinese restaurants, and consisted of about a dozen courses of perfectly delicious food. The one good thing about Chinese food is that it is served steaming hot, so that one may be sure that most germs have been thoroughly cooked. There was shrimp and vegetables, duck served with head and tail on and covered with big mushrooms and nuts in gravy, then a whole baby pig with head and tail of which we ate only the skin which was very crisp and chewy at that course, a whole fish with delicious sauce with vegetables, then the pig came back all cut up, soup with abalone, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, etc. served in a big gourd, fried rice, dishes of Chinese vegetables, tea with real flowers in it and cookies, then lychees for the final course served in ice water. I probably have forgotten some courses, for it is very hard to remember back. I liked most of dishes, and at least tasted all except a noodle dish (which I forgot to mention above). I’m not fond of Chinese or Burmese noodles! The fish and soup were my favorite dishes – always are of Chinese food.
March first. Winter is almost over?? So I never knew this but today is National Pig Day in the USA. Apparently National Pig Day is “to accord the pig its rightful, though generally unrecognized, place” as one of the most intelligent domesticated animals. Of course anybody who has seen the movie Babe already knows that about pigs… Happy Pig Day!
There has been a lot of build up for this storm/blizzard that is coming our way. Schools pivoted to online learning. Business are closing early. Snow plows are out in force. Armageddon approaches. It’s funny, when I lived here in the 1980’s we would have back to back mega storms and nobody blinked. I remember people skiing in the streets and the post man in snow shoes. Now we get three days of anticipation and everybody is told to stay home. Although they are saying 40-60 mile per hour winds so that is nothing to sneeze at. It is already very windy. I’m certainly not going anywhere. When my grandmother died, I had to drive to Madison in a blizzard. Almost went off the road a couple of times. All I could see was the car ahead of me and if they went off, we all went off.
I’m typing up my mother’s letters from when my family first moved to Burma in the 1950’s. They moved from Fargo, North Dakota to Rangoon, Burma. Talk about climate change. Every letter mentions the heat and humidity. She could have never imagined it could get so hot. They all practically lived at the swimming pool. In this latest letter she has been to the doctor because she was not feeling well. Turned out she had worms. She was appalled. But the doctor told her she would live and gave her some medicine. I remember when I was about 5, we were living in Rangoon and I got worms. I had to drink this horrible “chocolate flavored” medicine for what seemed like forever. And my brother delighted in telling me that the worms crawled into me between my toes when I went barefoot. I never believed him and thought he was a monster. But later in life I looked it up and turns out he was right. Ugh.
I managed to set up my new computer without any problems although it will take a while to sort out the photos. The new Mac will find all your duplicates for you. I have over 4000. This will take some time…. I changed my wallpaper to this lovely picture I took in Egypt.
I have been typing up my mother’s letters from the 1950’s when my family moved to Burma. In 1953 my parents took a trip to India:
“Once again it seems almost impossible that I can be here in India – but here we are! We had a pleasant flight over Sat. Aft. and Eve. – arrived here at 10 and dragged through customs (actually we went rather quickly for our Country Director was along and helped “rush” us thru). Then, instead of staying in hotel as we had supposed, they put us up in private homes! It turned out it has been very wonderful. Especially since they bundled Bill off on Sun. eve with a bedroll and sack lunch and he was gone until 7 this morning (Wed.)! We are staying with a couple who own a farm near Washington, Missouri and who are lovely people. They have taken me shopping and sightseeing, and a friend took us on a picnic among some 700 year old tombs (an experience I had never dreamed of) and it has been lots of fun.
Sunday we all went sightseeing and saw the famous Red Fort here in Delhi. The simply gorgeous government bldgs., and other interesting places. New Delhi is a beautiful, clean city with many trees, gardens, open lawn spaces and smooth unclogged roads! Old Delhi is more like Rangoon, but it is positively cold here except at midday. So different from Rangoon – we about perished waiting for the plane to leave Rangoon it was so hot and humid.
Last night went to see an Indian dancer and his program. It was positively enchanting! And then we went to a Chinese restaurant for delicious (and safe!) Chinese dinner. I so thoroughly enjoyed it and the entire evening.
Shopping has been loads of fun, but I see so many pretty and interesting things that it is hard to decide which I would like for the money I have. So many many things which are colorful and so typically Indian. naturally, I’m most interested in woven things – tablecloths, bedspreads, saries, (the things Indian women wear, you know) scarves, and just materials by the yard! I have tried to choose things especially for Jean – I sure which you were here to choose for yourself. But you’ll just have to accept my poor taste till you get to the Orient, I fear!
Bill had a glorious, if not altogether luxurious, experience on his field trip by Indian train and truck but I haven’t heard the details yet myself. We leave at 4 this aft. for Agra. Will add some later.
Feb 27 – Agra – We are in a nice English hotel which looks and is exactly like motels at home. I has a fancy dining room, swimming pool, expensive shops and hundred of servants with kaki coats and red turbans! There are about 50 people here for Bill’s conference , I guess, some from India.
FROM THE DIARY
Feb 22 – New Delhi and Lucknow. Sight seeing and shopping in New Delhi. Bill left about 6:30 pm with bed roll, sack lunch and water on night train to Lucknow to visit agricultural projects. Train quite different from U.S. Had a compartment (first class) with other person. Found that you can’t go from one car to another on the train except in station and can only get food at station. Some trains have dining cars but you have to enter and leave train while in station.
Feb 23 – Lucknow/Fyzabad. Hot and dusty – night cool. Lucknow was a city that showed a strong Mogul influence in the architecture of many buildings. Visited villages around Lucknow and then drove to Fyzebad after dinner. A very hot, dusty trip over very bad road. Stayed in Fyzebad at guest house and visited villages the following day. Returned Lucknow by car and again was a dusty ride in open jeep. Saw thousands of wild monkeys and every means of transportation – car, bus, train, water buffalo, elephants, donkeys, camels and oxcarts.
Feb 24 – Lucknow/Delhi. Took overnight train from Lucknow to Delhi. Had a better compartment this time and a good supply of food and water.
Feb 25/28 – New Delhi/Agra – Hot with cool evenings. By car to Agra. About 4 hour trip from New Delhi. We ate lots of oranges and bananas on the way. Saw all sorts of transportation as well as many monkeys. Drove through several villages and waited for what seemed like hours at train crossings. Arrive Agra about 9 pm. Ate dinner in Lauries Hotel and retire for night in our 3 room suite with fireplace. Very comfortable. Visited Taj on 26th but Bill in workshop most of time 26th and 27th.
Feb 28 – Agra/NewDelhi – After delightful time in Agra (Virginia saw Taj Mahal 4 times in one day and evening) we returned to Delhi. Our plane was TWO DAYS late leaving Delhi so we had much time for sightseeing, shopping and resting.
March 2 – New Delhi/Rangoon – Arrived Rangoon via British Overseas Airways Corp (BOAC) about midnight. Good trip with afternoon tea and dinner aboard. Quickly through Immigration and Customs and friends met us at airport. Tom had been bitten by their pet monkey but no problem and both boys were fine.”
“Our trip to India was most interesting. The people with whom we stayed in New Delhi were just wonderful and enlightened us so much about India in so many ways. They took us sightseeing besides explaining so much about the people and the country. Then Bill took his field trip which we mentioned before and he saw the villages firsthand, also the trains which is an experience in itself! We had planned to come home on Sunday on the British airlines, but the plane was delayed until Monday afternoon, so Bill and I did more sightseeing, more shopping, and visited an honest-to-goodness ice cream parlor and had real banana splits and chocolate nut sundaes just like you have at home. Boy! were they good! We have ice cream made in our refrig. with powdered milk, but there is very little resemblance to good American ice cream. I attended a delightful Indian dance program and had dinner in a Chinese restaurant while in Delhi. Then in Agra we had a pleasant time altho were rushed for time, for the conference consumed so much of Bill’s time that even had to skip a meeting so that he could get a picture of the Taj Mahal by sunlight. We also visited it by moonlight, and even though there was a ground fog that night it was most inspiring and a little magical. The building is just beautiful – so white and clean (compared to other monuments) and so perfect. The formal gardens are lovely – and the way to really enjoy the whole place is to have lots of time to just sit and meditate midst all the beauty or room at leisure thru the gardens. There is an atmosphere of peace and rest that I have encountered very few other places in the world. as you can tell, we were much impressed.”
I painted my “accent” cupboards in my kitchen this week. They were just so dull and boring, I felt the need to liven them up a bit. The first photo looks kind of like a Dali painting with the weird perspective.
The days are starting to get longer and the sun is showing up more often. Lifts the mood. Still sorting out retirement paperwork, insurance nightmares, it’s a process.
I was driving home last night around 7 pm. Of course it was already pitch dark. I was in the left lane of a one way street about two blocks from my apartment. I was at a stoplight. The light turned green and I moved forward. The next thing I knew the car on my right was turning left in front of me. It was one of those things where your brain can’t process it fast enough. I tried to turn left with it and I tried to stop but it drug me along. It was like they didn’t realize they were dragging me along because they kept going. It seemed like an age until they stopped. We weren’t going fast. Nobody was injured but my front right end is dented and scratched. And now I have the huge headache of dealing with it all, not to mention the money I will probably have to dole out. Ugh.
The only other time I was in anything like an accident was the time I backed out of a parking space into a car I had not seen. Of course it turned out to be a little Porsche. They had a lot of damage but I had none.
That was the highlight of my week…. not… Oh, yeah, plus I found out my car is “seeping” oil. Once they get to certain age, they turn on you.
In other news, I’m almost done reading the first book of the Raj Quartet about the fall of British rule in India. Historically speaking it is an interesting book. But very long. It rehashes the same story from many different perspectives in order to give the reader a full picture of the times. I’m not sure I want to dive into book two. Maybe later.
I’m watching Game of Thrones. Not sure what to say about that. I am addicted to it and can’t turn away but I don’t really like any of the characters. Who knew there could be so many sadists. As soon as I start rooting for somebody they get killed. There is one interesting thing about it, tho. The strongest characters all seem to be women. Not really all that surprising. But the really funny thing is the author of the book, of this book, all about killing and torture, was a conscientious objector during the Viet Nam war. He apparently said the Grateful Dead’s music may have influenced his work and that Trump is like a grown up King Joffrey (who was universally hated). Anyway, fantasy isn’t real, right?
I have been going to this Greek restaurant at Lake and Lyndale in Minneapolis ever since the 1980’s. Back then it was small and crowded. By the 2000 teens it had expanded, added a patio, and the food was bad. After about three years of avoiding it, we went back there last night (before the accident). The food was GOOD. I had a very delicate and tasty spanakopita for an appetizer and then some nice chicken kebob with rice and warm pita. Couldn’t have been better.
I’m going to paint my kitchen cupboards this week. Wish me luck.