Sunday, December 12, 2010

Vintage Glass Christmas Tree Ornaments

For those folks interested in collecting vintage Christmas tree ornaments, some of the most popular of all were the lightweight glass ornaments produced in and around Lauscha, Germany by glass blowers from the region in eastern Germany. This area is considered to be the birthplace of the Christmas tree ornament in general and the glass ornament in particular. This glassblowing center was established in 1590 in Lauscha by German Protestant glass blowers who settled there to escape religious persecution.There they created a lucrative industry in glassblowing toys and ornaments. In 1847 Hans Greiner began producing glass ornaments in the shape of fruits and nuts. The immense popularity in the U.S. of these fanciful glass ornaments was the result of the enterprising American businessman F.W. Woolworth who was surprised by their popularity. Between 1890 and 1909, the Woolworth company made $25 million on ornaments which cost the eager buyers ten cents or less.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Magical Wonderland of Department Store Windows at Christmas Time

I love this old photo! I remember waiting expectantly back in the 1960's for the local department store to unveil it's annual Christmas store windows! My uncle was in charge of the design of the windows and  went to New York City every year to select that year's magical display. What fun that would have been to accompany him there! In this early 20th century holiday photo, it is interesting that most of the children with their faces pressed up against a window that is filled with dolls and doll furniture are boys! There are a couple of young girls there, probably about 12 years of age who were probably appreciating the toys; but the one little girl standing in the back would have been so enchanted to find some of those gifts under her Christmas tree.  She seems so timid and shy and very sweet! I hope she found the doll of her dreams that year!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Frosted Pane by Evaleen Stein

      When I wakened, very early,
     All my window-pane was pearly
With a sparkling little picture traced in lines of shining white;
     Some magician with a gleaming
     Frosty brush, while I was dreaming,
Must have come and by the starlight worked through all the quiet night.
 He had painted frosty people,
     And a frosty church and steeple,
And a frosty bridge and river tumbling over frosty rocks;
     Frosty mountain peaks that glimmered,
     And fine frosty ferns that shimmered,
And a frosty little pasture full of frosty little flocks.
 It was all touched in so lightly
     And it glittered, oh, so whitely,
That I gazed and gazed in wonder at the lovely painted pane;
     Then the sun rose high and higher
     With his wand of golden fire
Till, alas, my picture vanished and I looked for it in vain!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Surprise Christmas Gift Named Sophie

I have a new little buddy in my life. Her name is Sophie. I had had cats in my life for 50 years when two years ago I had to put down my 19 year old Zoey, a petite fluffy gray cat with peach colored highlights in her fur. After my divorce she had become my shadow, my sole companion, my touchstone. Her passing was one more loss in a life seemingly filled with them. I decided I was done with pets - not only that, I was done with falling in love with anything or anyone ever again - except for my as yet to be born grandbabies - there would always be a place in my heart for them. I accepted my solitary life as my choice and where I would find my joy in my work. By it's very nature the work of an artist or writer requires isolation to a large degree. I have always been happy with that. I did occasionally miss the presence of a pet in my life, a greeter cat when I came home, but I had committed myself to no new loves. It was ok. Until last week when I was visiting my children and my daughter wanted me to accompany her to the pet store where she needed dog food. I said I would wait in the car, and she said I should come in and look at the kittens. I had done this before with her so I thought little of it. I went in and thought I would just wander around the kiosk of pet cubicles and leave. But as I rounded the corner of the framework of windows, I was stopped in my tracks by the sweetest little face. I was captivated! If she hadn't been gray and fluffy I would certainly have walked right on by. But she had me mesmerized. If I had collected my thoughts and walked away to think about it, I may have been strong enough to walk away. But as it was, my feet never moved. I couldn't take my eyes off her. I allowed my daughter to talk me into adopting the kitten. Generously she even offered to buy it for my Christmas present. So I left the pet store as a new pet owner! I was rather in shock for a few days. I couldn't believe I had done that. I did come to my senses and freaked out a couple of times - afraid that I had done the wrong thing. My heart felt locked up in a way it never had been before when welcoming the previous 6 kittens in my life. I didn't understand it. After several days of trying to understand my resistance to bonding with my new kitten, I realized how much I had closed my heart to love. I hadn't realized it went as far as encompassing 4 legged creatures too, as well as the 2 legged variety. I had to admit that maybe I needed the kitten even more than she needed me. That it probably wasn't the healthiest way to live to commit oneself to no new love in my life, at least the 4 legged kind. I had room for a little 1 lb. 6 oz. kitten in my life and heart. She would be my new shadow, my new greeter cat. Since bringing her back home, I am happy I have her in my life, and she's finding her place in my heart. I'm glad my daughter talked me into adopting her.

Friday, November 26, 2010

November 1968 by Adrienne Rich

you're beginning to float free
up through the smoke of brushfires
and incinerators
the unleafed branches won't hold you
nor the radar aerials

You're what the autumn knew would happen
after the last collapse
of primary color
once the last absolutes were torn to pieces
you could begin

How you broke open, what sheathed you
until this moment
I know nothing about it
my ignorance of you amazes me
now that I watch you
starting to give yourself away
to the wind

                                     Adrienne Rich 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Letter in November by Sylvia Plath

Love, the world
Suddenly turns, turns color. The streetlight
Splits through the rat's tail
Pods of the laburnum at nine in the morning.
It is the Arctic,

This little black
Circle, with its tawn silk grasses - babies hair.
There is a green in the air,
Soft, delectable.
It cushions me lovingly.

I am flushed and warm.
I think I may be enormous,
I am so stupidly happy,
My Wellingtons
Squelching and squelching through the beautiful red.

This is my property.
Two times a day
I pace it, sniffing
The barbarous holly with its viridian
Scallops, pure iron,

And the wall of the odd corpses.
I love them.
I love them like history.
The apples are golden,
Imagine it ----

My seventy trees
Holding their gold-ruddy balls
In a thick gray death-soup,
Their million
Gold leaves metal and breathless.

O love, O celibate.
Nobody but me
Walks the waist high wet.
The irreplaceable
Golds bleed and deepen, the mouths of Thermopylae.
                                Sylvia Plath 1932-1963

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cleo de Merode, Beauty of le Belle Epoque

She was born Cleopatra Diane de Merode in Bordeaux, Paris, France in 1874. She was the daughter of Karl von Merode, an Austrian landscape painter belonging to a famous Belgian noble family de Merode. Nicknamed "Cleo", she was selected for the Opera School of Dance when she was only 8 years old, at 11 she was dancing professionally, and at 13 she was chosen to dance in the prestigious ballet, Choryhee. It was then that she started to wear her hair pulled back in the chignon style with the hair covering her ears which became the talk of Paris and a popular style for many women. Her image was captured on post cards and playing cards which were widely collected.

She quickly became a favorite of many artists of the time including Toulouse-Lautrec, Gustav Klimt, Edgar Degas and Alexandre Falguiere. The ballerina performed in many major cities including St. Petersburg, New York and London but was probably more famous for her beauty than her dancing.

In 1896, King Leopold II of Belgium attended the ballet and it is recounted how he became enamored with the 23 year old dancer. At the time the king was 61. Ballerinas were regarded almost as courtesans in Paris at the time. The Paris Opera was said to have been called a "national harem". Gossip spread among Parisians about de Merode being the king's new mistress, so much so that the king became dubbed King Cleopold. Such accusations were strongly denied by de Merode but the scandal followed her throughout her life. Outraged, Cleo de Merode left Paris to dance internationally in such cities as Hamburg, Berlin, St. Petersburg, Budapest and New York. In the Russian Ballet she became the first ballerina to dance with a male partner.

At the peak of her ballet career, Cleo elected to perform with the Folies Bergere, something no other ballet elite would do. The risk she took gained her a whole new following. At age 42, Cleo returned to her birthplace of Biarritz, never to return to Paris. She still continued to dance, performing through the Red Cross for the wounded soldiers during WWI.

She is reported to have had only two relationships with men in her life, both long term. The first, an aristocrat lasted ten years until he died of  typhoid fever; the second, a Spanish diplomat and sculptor  eventually left her for another woman. Cleo de Merode died in 1966 at the age of 91 and is interred in the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Another young beauty from le Belle Epoque!

Who was she? She was born in Paris in 1874 of Austrian descent.

She became famous for this chignon hair style with the hair covering her ears - it became the rage of Paris!
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