Perfect Labor Day, with lots of mental rest

Today was beautiful:

We walked over to see a movie at the corner theatre (Ghostbusters), ate pizza out with friends, then talked with them about the summer while eating plum cake (that I made last night).

The weather outside was foul — humid, steamy, and filled with ragweed pollen. Much better to have a little neighborly kaffeeklatsch in the living room to discuss trips we’ve had, or vacations others are planning. Oh, and Ghostbusters was a total blast, and held up surprisingly well although kids today would never believe a musician could live in a penthouse in NYC. 

So, anyone catch any good movies at the end of the summer season? I’ll probably go back to see Helen Mirren’s latest, but if there’s a film from the UK coming my way that I shouldn’t miss, please let me know so I can watch for it.

Hope everyone had a good labor day, and spent a few moments at least remembering why we have this holiday and remember: look for the union label (am I showing my age maybe?).

Becoming a power broker – Alice

After the war [WWI], Alice Roosevelt Longworth would evolve into a Washington statesman. Not limited by a constituency as were elected politicians, she could go anywhere, talk with anyone. Her power came to be greater than any lobbyist’s or social maven because her home was the place to be, to see and be seen, to spill secrets, to meet people, and to broker deals that could not be made in Congress. Alice’s drawing room became a required stop on the path to political prominence.” Stacey A. Cordery, Alice: Alice Roosevelt Longworth, from White House Princess to Washington Power Broker.

Still an interesting read, as Alice’s life takes some pretty amazing twists and turns. Acerbic, witty, a fine hostess, and yet not infallible. Interested in politics until her dying days — and the story is fascinating enough that someone like me (who hates current politics and political ads) could find the rise and fall of different politicians as Alice shows that she never quite got over being a wild child. It was interesting to see how Alice evolved into someone who talked to anyone (Nixon, the Robert Kennedy and JFK, Truman), or who could stridently campaign against a relative (FDR), but still let her only daughter play with his children in the White House. Honestly, she wouldn’t have been easy to live with, but she would never have been boring. So now, for balance, I suppose I should find a good biography of Eleanor Roosevelt.

Back to school, 2014

This morning began the ritual of kids going back to school. Young children in blue shirts and blue slacks or plaid skirts walked hand-in-hand with Dad or Mom, their backpacks looking too large for them to carry. There may have been a sale on purple backpacks with polka dots –> Hard to tell, but it was a theme at the little grade school down the block.

Along with the parents and children, a very tall man strode up the street towards the grade school, with a small corgi slung over the back of his neck. The corgi seemed to be having a lovely time.

Wouldn’t it be marvelous if the local news would alternate between the suburban kids getting off their yellow school buses, and instead document the small parades of parents and kids (and corgis), and tiny buses I get to watch in the city? Possibly more entertaining…. [Dear news media: stop pitching stories like the only people who watch the morning news are suburban moms.]

Prepping for the Roosevelts

The new PBS documentary by Ken Burns focuses on the Roosevelt family, the presidencies, and the family loyalties (and lack of same) that defined them — from Teddy Roosevelt (26th president) to Franklin Delano Roosevelt (32nd president). To gear up for this, I’ve begun reading a biography called Alice: Alice Roosevelt Longworth, from White House Princess to Washington Power Broker, by Stacy A. Cordery. It’s a page turner. From the wild times of Teddy Roosevelt’s first daughter, Alice, to her marriage (with tribute from foreign dignitaries [Kaiser Wilhelm sent a bracelet with a diamond-ringed miniature of himself] and ordinary Americans caught up in the excitement [a hogshead of popcorn, bales of hay, a railway car full of coal from the United Mine Workers of America]) to her role as independent woman and political power broker.

Through the years, many children have lived in the White House, but only a few got married while their fathers were in office. Alice was modern, always in the news, and a trendsetter, with Gibson Girl style. I’ll be honest — it’s more interesting than I expected. Scandal, infidelity, and the search for publicity before any of our modern divas were born.

Cheeky fellows – high atop a hill



Bismarck overlooks Hamburg — molded in cement, and standing on what looks like castle ramparts. I’m not sure what he think about the changes in the area since the statue was erected in the Alten Elbpark.  The hill overlooks the Reeperbahn area of the city. It’s an easy walk from a train station, and interesting to see, even though there’s lots of graffiti. at the base of the statue itself. Some of the graffiti uses English words in somewhat odd contexts.

Although Otto doesn’t look like he’s interested in a good time, there are always the guys hanging out at the base of the statue. Like this one:

Tell me he's not thinking about last night's party?

Tell me he’s not thinking about last night’s party?

The whole statue and base is an amazing collision of different styles. Can’t figure out if the nude statuary at the base of Bismarck’s perch are meant to invoke manly comparisons to Olympians of old….

As if...

As if…

Or a party in search of a nightclub. I’m not sure where in 1906 they would have found one.

Please don’t dye the baby blue

This has to do with knitting — honest! I was knitting the Sweet Norwegian Baby Cap by Gro (Ravelry link to the hat pattern) while traveling in Europe. I had chosen some lovely yarn — Spirit Trails Fiberworks Sunna in Beach Glass and some leftover sock yarn in Alpine. They were striping beautifully, and looked really nice together in the light as I knit on the train, with northern Germany passing by the window. And then The Gardener looked at me and said, “You’re knitting that for a friend’s baby?”

I nod. There have been a few recent baby showers.

“I assume you like your friend?” I nod again, and she says, “Please no blue foreheads…”

When I ask what is meant by that, I learn — the Alpine, while lovely and comfortable has always had a bleeding problem. And while this isn’t insurmountable in a pair of socks, now that they’ve been washed a lot, “you don’t want a to turn a baby blue.” I sat and thought, and knit. Then I asked about the Sunna yarn, which apparently doesn’t bleed at all. I sat and knit automatically, since I was halfway there. The train kept traveling closer to the airport. And then, on the plane, I tinked back to the first 6 rows. I’ll save the Alpine as trim for something — it’s still lovely, and beautiful to knit.

So — lesson learned: listen to people who have received gifts of wool.

Inspirations for a garden – rose trellises

When I was little, my Grandfather had a rose cutting garden that my Mom and her sisters kept up after he passed. The main grounds of the house had probably been done by a landscaper, with lots of grass, large rocks for interest, a large rain tree, and surprise lilies at the side where the small woods began. The space was large, grand, and open. The rose garden and small vegetable patch were on the side of the driveway, where they would get consistent sun, but tucked away. There might have been 10 or 12 small rose bushes tucked away in that intimate little postage stamp of land, and they were sheltered by a hilly berm from the danger of high winds and hail storms of Indiana, for the most part. If they had been focal parts in the yard, inclement weather would have destroyed them.

I’m always amazed by large arbors of roses, or whole rose gardens. The amount of work it must take, and carefully choosing what won’t be destroyed by the weather or bugs — it’s roseradissoninspirational. The latest place I’ve been to has been Planten un Blomen in Hamburg, Deutschland. Lovely gardens, including a waterfall with ferns. But the roses here are out in the open, not tucked away, and they contrast interestingly with the modern buildings behind them. This is only a small portion of the beautiful plants that were in the whole garden. There’s also an apothecary garden, Japanese Garden and teahouse (where we were offered tea), and a water fountain display (that we watched from the Seepavillion as we ate kuchen and drank coffee). Planten un Blomen is quite large. You can walk in the garden from the St. Pauli U-Bahnstation all the way to the St. Stephansplatz U-Bahnstation or further. I managed to get around 7 miles of walking in the day I visited, because we’d also visited Stadtpark Hamburg with a friend.

Flickr Photos

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