Flying South

December 20, 2012

"Put a Bird on It" seems to be our theme this year for holiday gifting.  A wise and pretty little bird named Camille remembered that I had fallen in love with a new bird book, Birds of a Feather . It really is fabulous for all ages and it was one of my favorite Hanukkah gifts. It also turned out to be the source for much study and inspiration this week. 

This week didn't go the way I thought it would. We were swamped with a variety of unexpected health issues and the kids ended up spending most of the week at home. My long to-do list of errands quickly got tossed and our week morphed into a surprisingly pleasant blur of reading, crafting, and birding (watching the birds at our feeder and then making some of our own). Our unplanned week at home turned out to be just what we all needed. 

And now we are flying south to join our flock...headed home to Louisiana to be with family and friends for the holidays. I hope you and your own flock find some time for quiet endeavors in the midst of the frenzy that can happen at this time of year.

Pret a Papier

December 18, 2012

If you live in the DC area or you will be visiting during the holidays, you MUST get to Hillwood to see the Pret-a-Papier exhibit before it closes on December, 30th. Isabelle de Borchgrave is a Belgian artist who creates the most stunning dresses out of paper. Yes, paper.  Simple sheets of paper turned into spectacular pieces of couture. 

The first time I heard of de Borchgrave's work was when my mother-in-law and my nieces kept talking about her Pulp Fashion exhibit they had seen in San Francisco .They couldn't stop gushing about the dresses. And now I know why.  All of those amazing details so carefully crafted from paper: endless tucks, multi-layered ruffles, intricate patterns,delicate laces, puffy bows...paper frilliness like you could never imagine possible.

But it's not just the decorative accents on the garments. It's also the historical details. And there are plenty of them to absorb. The most striking connection to history is that several of the dresses are on exhibit in the mansion and they were created specifically for this exhibit. Isabelle de Borchgrave spent time at Hillwood learning about Marjorie Merriweather Post and her enormous collections of Faberge eggs, French antiques, and lovely gardens. The Belgian artist's attention to those details and their shared connections are delightfully obvious in these pieces. My favorite dresses were those that were set inside the lovely ghosts floating and inhabiting the spaces with their papery, ethereal presence.

And when you go, be sure you pick up an audio guide (it's included with the entrance fee) and it really enhances the whole experience. You get to hear de Borchgrave speaking about her personal fascination with various cultures and periods. Similar to the thrill of hearing authors speak about their work and read their own work, I also love to hear artists speak about their creations, their inspirations, their process, and their challenges. I love how these snippets from the interviews with de Borchgrave are tucked in with the audio guide descriptions of the dresses. This slideshow is also a wonderful way to learn more about her work.


The Eighth Night

December 16, 2012

No Words

December 15, 2012

The Smithsonian Castle

Just prayers for peace and healing in Newtown, Connecticut.

Thoughts on This December

December 13, 2012

 For the past few Decembers, we have spent the holiday-laden month wrestling with the issues that arise from having the only Jewish kids in a fairly large geographical area (ie Sicily and probably most of Southern Italy). This December we suddenly find ourselves experiencing the month in a very different way: surrounded by other Jews. Our move this past summer was such a dramatic one that our kids now attend a public school system that takes days off for the major Jewish holidays and we belong to a large and vibrant Jewish congregation. 

We are no longer the token Jewish family and it feels nice to be a part of something much larger than our family unit. In fact, when Camille recently and spontaneously announced "I love being Jewish". It made me smile because it was such a contrast to poor Noah at the same age when he struggled with being the only Jewish kid in his school and begged us to celebrate Christmas. I am pretty confident that Camille's announcement stems from the fact that she loves going to Sunday school and Friday night Shabbat services, she loves playing dreidles with friends, eating challah, and spending time with Rabbi Jessica...all things that have come from our recent move. Don't get me wrong, we miss Sicily terribly, but this Hanukkah has me feeling especially grateful to be in our new spot.

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