Saturday, January 10, 2009
Fritz launched a new Lesley University Masters Degree class Friday at 5pm. He'll be working through the entire weekend, which has left me somewhat to my own devices and today I began to take Christmas down.
I began with the cards that were pinned onto long red ribbons flanking doorways in or near the front entrance hall. I make a note of who sent cards for reference next year. I already have the cards I'm going to send. Many years ago I discovered that some very fine cards are to be had for very little money as soon as the holidays are over from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. I developed a frugal streak when I was growing up, based on the fact that I find it easy to prioritize my wants and needs. The big things that I want to go after frequently aren't inexpensive, so if I'm to have them I cut corners elsewhere like crazy
I'll start taking ornaments off the tree tomorrow but wanted to show you some interesting ones that have been traditional with Fritz and me:
These are Fritz's Swedish folding cardboard bands. They can stand by themselves on a table, shelf, etc., then fold up small and flat for next year.
I haggled for these handmade ornaments with the women who made them, in the streets of Xian, China. From what I've seen reported from China recently, I wonder if you can find this kind of work there anymore. While other people on our tour were sending home fabulous cloisonne vases, porcelain and furniture, I collected Chinese folk art, and have lived to be extremely glad I did.
These ornaments are just over a hundred years old, very small hand-blown glass shapes that are paper thin. It's a miracle any of them has survived. They belonged to my English grandfather and grandmother.
One thing about Starr is that she will always go for the newest and most interesting perch rather than going by habit back to the ones she's always used. Fritz let a pile of wool sweaters build up on top of his dresser, and when it had become sufficiently soft and warm it became the best place for the first big nap of the day. Behind there on a window sill is a wood carving of the Indian goddess Lakshme.
There has been a significant restoration of a building that's part of a complex lost the depths of Beijing's Forbidden City. For a slide show, cut and paste this link:
Here's part of the story from the BBC News World Service:
For decades stories circulated among art historians of a mothballed Qing Dynasty retreat within the Forbidden City, the imperial behemoth with 8,700 rooms that anchors the Chinese capital. Word eventually reached the World Monuments Fund, a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving imperiled historic sites. Six years and $3 million later the first building of the Palace of Tranquility and Longevity to be restored, Juanqinzhai, left, has just been completed and will open to the public in the coming months.
A compulsive poet who oversaw the unprecedented expansion of China’s borders, Emperor Qianlong began creating the refuge in 1771, at 61, for his golden years. Employing the finest craftsmen of the day he spent five years building a fanciful collection of pocket gardens, banquet rooms, prayer halls and a single-seat opera house.
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