Reading: All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes by Maya Angelou

egghalf_potteryAt the end of 2015, I spent my evenings traveling (via book) with Maya Angelou, as she explored the Ghana of 1962. In the past, I had read a portion of All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes either in an anthology or in a literary journal. The selection was a tight, interesting expository narrative. So, when I saw it on the library shelves in December, it came home.

These are her stories of struggling with wanting to belong, and having all of the history of Africa, America, and slavery in between her and that belonging. The journey is in a country that was just finding its feet, that was being wooed by Americans like Malcolm X, and also being plundered by art collectors from Western Europe. We’re privileged to sit at the table as the “Revolutionaries” feast on food from home in the USA, or to hear her explore the disconnect between what it costs to survive in the USA vs. what it costs to live in Ghana.

This is another book that just stayed with me, especially the moments when she felt that eerie sense of belonging, that her family had actually come from one of the countries that she visited. Read about the book in Goodreads . Do you think you, too, could identify with the quote:”The ache for home lives in all of us…”? Written in 1984, this autobiographical work feels more “real” than many. If you read or re-read this book, pay close attention to what Ms. Angelou chooses to disclose, knowing she can pick and choose what moments to narrate. The story of her drafting process →that’s one book I’d like to find in the library.

Jonas, the very naughty storm

copernicus

Copernicus statue, Warsaw

In January, I traveled to Europe for meetings. Going to another country is always interesting, although it’s normally more fun when on holiday. During my week, I started to get word that my flight home might be rerouted. And then it was canceled.

I found myself at loose ends and decided to walk to a museum or two. The Chopin museum in Warsaw: highly rated, and they managed to get around the translation issue by providing people with electronic keys (like an electronic door entry device) that you hold up to different video monitors. You either got subtitles, or an explanation in your language. It was a lovely interlude of music and history, and interactive things. If you’re in Poland and you like classical music, schedule time for this one. I walked in the frosty air, hit 7 miles on my pedometer that day, and generally had a good time because I was going home. I went back to the hotel, packed my stuff, and set my alarm, ready to head off after a lovely treat.

Then my flight home was canceled again. Jonas had been a very naughty storm, trashed the eastern seaboard and made it impossible for planes to land. So I had a tiny little meltdown. I can’t imagine I was the only person who felt that way, but people in the travel team were really kind. The piles of snow  were impressive once I got home, the plows broke down in our street, and I did have to shovel the front walk multiple times.

Hopefully you weren’t one of the people affected by the storm, or its aftermath as it headed to the UK as torrential downpours.

Christmas was red hot

Well, other than colors of the season, it didn’t seem at all like Christmas. We hung around outdoors in shirtsleeves or light sweaters, gossiping with friends. We took lovely walks, and felt very overheated.

But, if you look at my Flickr feed on the side, it should look a bit like I was in Oz (lots of green on buildings) or Christmas-land: lots of red accents and gold. I visited friends over the Christmas holidays. Visited more friends over the New Year’s holiday, and manged to squeeze in a bit of quilting.

It has felt, oddly, like home has been a way station inbetween all of our travels. And, due to a work-related travel snafu, this has been sitting in my outbox, without publishing. Oops.

 

Caroling, caroling

‘Tis the season, even if the weather argues that it’s almost time for Spring Break.

We’re having a heatwave (it’s likely to hit 70 degrees F [24 degrees C] on Christmas Day, so it’s time to find clothing that suits the weather while also suiting the season.  At least I like the color red, so I have a festive light blouse to wear caroling, as well as a cotton Christmas sweater. Not sure if people outside the States have these (sort of legendary these days, with whole sites dedicated to showing the worst examples). I kind of like mine, and I’m pleased that it is warm enough for me to wear it.

To get in the spirit, I’ve been listening to music from Natalie Cole’s Holly and Ivy album. Here’s one that relates to the title of this post (link here). And I’ve also decided to stop baking cookies — it’s too hot in the kitchen. One set of cookies and fruitcake is enough…

So, are you looking forward to a brown, rainy Christmas like those of us on the east coast? Or are you already buried in snow? Or planning a sunny beachside celebration while roasting things on the barbeque?

And, Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

Jingling all the way

I’m sliding into the Christmas season with very few presents bought and no cookies waiting to be sent off to family and friends. However, the two concerts are behind me and I’ve attended one high school orchestra program (best suited to the relatives and adults interested in the happiness of specific teens, honestly…). My only singing engagement is some caroling later on in the month.

I know that soon I’ll be on holiday, with some time to handle the errands, and maybe even time to bake the saffron julbrot (here’s one recipe online, in German and English)  and roll out some more cookies. But I’m still scratching my head about what to get people, and hope I’ll find time to unearth the Christmas stationery tomorrow.

Happy holidays! If I’m not back by the weekend, I’ll be back after the holidays to talk about the latest book on my shelf.

Getting ready for the season

There are 2 concerts this weekend (tuxedo and formal shirt is over at the cleaner’s). I’ve got the ingredients for Moravian Christmas cookies on the kitchen counter and refrigerator (still not sure if I will just punt to the easier gingerbread). There are a lot of store bought kinds of “Moravian cookies” you can get from high-end stores. No, I’m not sure I get that. It’s an old recipe, and it makes about a gazillion.  If you get the ones from Winston Salem, stick to the ginger spice ones — that’s the closest to what the family recipe is. Sort of.

I was clever this time, and bought the molasses at the grocery during Thanksgiving shopping, when no one is thinking about it for their pantries (it’s gone today), and I think I picked up the last dark brown sugar the store has.

I’m fairly sure the store will stock shelves again.

But, I can’t be sure.

It took them since Thanksgiving to get unsalted butter back in the case.

There’s the normal mad crush of work prior to the Christmas week, when lots of people take off for the holidays. And I’m not sure when I’ll find time to actually Christmas shop. But… I have a stockpile of projects that I did earlier in the year for specific people. Hopefully on Saturday the weather will stay fine so I can have a blocking party prior to the concert.

So, I assume everyone else has their list sorted, and is settled in to the cozy part of things. If you’re not, and you’re like me… hail friend well met! This is the first year in years that I’ll have kitten help with giftwrapping. :-)

Kitten news

ember2We’re getting close to “cat news” now, with the newbie (almost 5 or 6 months?). She’s been terrorizing Leia, ambushing the eldest when he goes to use the box, and generally growing up and learning (slowly) how to cat.

So, Ember… listen to the elders. And, also: less biting makes us a bit fonder (but oh, so many exciting things to scratch, claw, and bite).

 


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