Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Video from UK Trip: The Underground

I took this video when I first went down the stairs to get to the "Central Line" at Tottenham Court Road. It was quite a journey to get to the Tube platform. Sort of reminds me of this year. Enjoy!

See you in 2010!

Video from UK Trip: Sloane Square Schoolkids

Sorry for the poor quality of this video. I was trying to be all subtle while filming these kids in their school uniforms. Judging from their uniforms, they must be from the Hill House International School, which is right near Sloan Square. However, I was totally surprised when I saw them walking by in these uniforms - it was like something out of Hogwarts for me!


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Cookie Update, Happy Yule, All!

Happy Yule, Everybody!! Well, starting today, the days will be getting longer, more sunshine. This really is a magical time of year. We in Philly just had our first (HUGE) snowfall of the year, and it's staying cold, so the snow is still here. Last night, Solstice, the crescent moon hung in the sky and was just beautiful.

We in the Grand Forêt household have started baking our Christmas Cookies. As long-time readers know, this is a long-standing practice for us. I love that the history of cookie baking is based in some good pagan-Christian overlap and continues the "borrowing" theme that I love so much in the seasonal traditions of Christianity.

Anyways, this year, we are baking:
Yummy. Peace to you All!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Video from UK: Harrods Phantasmagoria

This was truly a trippy and bizarre experience. I filmed this and got right out of the store. Sensory overload for sure.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Jesse's Tree

We interrupt our travelogue to bring you more awesomeness in the religious art world, brought to light by Terry, whose blog I just adore [keep up the great work at Idle Speculations!].

As usual, Terry has researched what is going on in this image, including biblical references to what we're seeing. Amazing!

We have been working so hard on our Nativity play, that we have not done any "Jesse Tree" ornaments at all this year, which is kind of a bummer. I love doing a Jesse Tree with the kids. I really feel like it helps them to remember the Old Testament stories better. AND it helps with religious art because you come away from each story with a symbol of it in your hand - a Ladder for Jacob, a Burning Bush for Moses, a Crown for Esther, a Lion for Daniel, a Coat for Joseph - on and on.

This painting reminds me a lot of Sirius Black's family tree tapestry in Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Video From UK: Fulham vs Sunderland Starts

This was the beginning of the Fulham vs. Sunderland soccer (football) match we went to see on Sunday, December 6th. As you can see, it started out sunny! It was a GREAT time. I will post more video from this excursion, but the "official" highlights can be found at the Fulham FC site. Enjoy!

Check out the mounted police at the entry point:

And this is the scene at half time when everyone dashes out to grab a pint.

This is not even as crowded as it was a few minutes earlier. Seriously, I got physically closer to more people on that trip to the lav than I have...... pretty much ever. It was intimate, let me tell you!

Video from UK: Cornish Mossy Wall

More video from my walk in Cornwall. This wall just amazed me. No Martha Stewart-esque prep here. Enjoy!

Video from UK: Cornwall

This is the view from the lane right next to my Godmother's house. Beautiful, right? This was my second day in Britain, and I was trying to get over jet lag. This walk would cure jet lag for most I think. Cornwall is beautiful. And visiting my Godmother is always a time warp experience - in a good way. She serves me great British food, that is actually healthy. We have tea, and she has a great library and bed linens :) Cornwall is proof that the jet stream helps English gardens, and you can see how green and alive everything is in December. Cyclamens are alive and well in the garden!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Brief Hiatus, and Happy Advent

Hey All,

I'll be away for the next week, gallivanting around the UK. I hope to be able to post some great photos and possibly video of my time there.... we'll see. The image above is from Terry's blog, Idle Speculations, and seemed appropriate given my trip, and the season.

It's the beginning of my second favorite liturgical season, Advent. I hope you all get a chance to have some un-crazy downtime during this busy time of year. My friend, Moxie, has started a "Candletime" tradition in her home, and even has a corporate sponsor!

One more thing I thought I'd share before I head out is a letter from Shane Claiborne published in Esquire. I think it's awesome, and I hope you enjoy it, h/t to my friend, Jay.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Path...

I just am figuring out about this chaplain thing, and maybe I've been called to do that, and it sort of doesn't seem real. But when I think back on the steps, it's eerie: like, I heard the "Fresh Air" interview with Dr Schwab the trauma surgeon, I was riveted and felt that I needed to leave my last job at a small, suburban women's college to pursue something more meaningful. I heard Al Gore and his "Inconvenient Truth", I read "Mountains beyond Mountains" in my book club, and I became radicalized.

I got this job, and at first lamented it, but have since realized that it affords me the opportunity and some time to take a class, if I set it up right, without taking too much time away from the fam. I started taking the class, and somehow got the immediate idea to shadow the chaplains. I have had an AMAZING experience with them and am basically feeling a call, and am now starting to plan out how I can do it: the masters and the lay chaplaincy.

So, this has been deferred for some time, but it's looped back to the topic that got me started on the path, AND it is using my strengths [all of this potentially]. So maybe it's all "in God's time". Happy Thanksgiving, ALL!

Friday, November 13, 2009

"Unbind him, and let him go"

As some of you know, I was recently at the funeral of a friend of mine, and while I mourned his passing, the words that the priest spoke during his homily helped me overcome another loss. The priest said, "we must forgive him for leaving us. He was struggling, suffering his own crucifixion. We need to forgive him, and let his soul go on." At those words I wept. They helped me so much. They put into perspective the struggle of my friend "James" who died, under similar circumstances, over 11 years ago now.

I didn't hear these words then, if they were even said. But now, they have helped me to deal with the loss of James. To let him go on, forgive him, and remember without devastation and fresh tears, what a great person he was before he left us.

The Sunday after the funeral, the Gospel reading at church was John 11:32-44, the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the tomb. If you have a moment, go read it, it's a powerful and moving story of loss, and recovery. Jesus' friend Lazarus was dead and buried, and Jesus raises him from the dead (a miracle). But what struck me, and has helped me SO MUCH were the last words that Jesus says to his friends in this little story:

"Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."

I will unbind James, and let him go. I will keep my memories of him, but I will let go of my anger at him for leaving us all. I forgive him.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

November 11th

Whether you call it Armistice Day or Veteran's Day or Remembrance Day, today is a good day to remember soldiers and their sacrifices for our freedom.

I had never realized that there was a connection between Martin of Tours and Armistice day, until I just saw in the Wikipedia article on him that he was buried on November 11, 397. The day in the Church is called Martinmas, or Feast of St Martin, but it is apparently coincidence that these two share the same day. He was named Martin after Mars, the Roman god of War and is the patron saint of France and soldiers, and also conscientious objectors since he later went on to refuse to fight saying, "I am a soldier of Christ. I cannot fight." The article goes on to say:

While Martin was still a soldier at Amiens he experienced the vision that became the most-repeated story about his life. He was at the gates of the city of Amiens with his soldiers when he met a scantily dressed beggar. He impulsively cut his own military cloak in half and shared it with the beggar. That night he dreamed of Jesus wearing the half-cloak Martin had given away. He heard Jesus say to the angels: "Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptised; he has clad me." (Sulpicius, ch 2). In another story, when Martin woke his cloak was restored, and the miraculous cloak was preserved among the relic collection of the Merovingian kings of the Franks.

The Wikipedia article also notes that the word "Chaplain" comes from the name and veneration of the cape he allegedly gave a beggar...after which he had a vision of Christ and became a Christian. "One of the many services a chaplain can provide is spiritual and pastoral support for military service personnel by performing religious services at sea or in the battlefield.[7]"

I've been observing chaplains at the local hospital and am so amazed by their work and ministry. I'm thinking about it as a path for myself.... I think it's synchronicity that I am learning about all this today. I had never even heard of Martinmas until today.

Anyways, I want to say thank you to Veterans. Someone I know on Facebook said that "on 60 Minutes this Sunday, Andy Rooney said that as a Vet, he would like to work toward a Peace Day, because every single military death is a tragedy that person and his (and now her) loved ones. He said thank me by stopping the need for a Veteran's Day."

Friday, October 30, 2009

Extra Insight

I went to Ray's funeral today. It was a "good" one, by my standards. I thought the priest's homily was excellent, a good reminder about forgiveness. And helpful for me in my continuing struggle with another friend's death.

Anyways, I was reading my horoscope from Rob Brezsny for this week, and thought I'd share, it's very appropriate for me right now:

I hope you won't merely wander around the frontier. I hope you'll undertake a meticulous yet expansive exploration of that virgin territory. Here are some tips on how to proceed: 1. Formulate specific questions about what you're looking for. 2. Develop a hypothesis for the experiments you want to carry out. 3. Ignore what doesn't interest you and pounce only on what stirs your fascination. Halloween costume suggestion: an alien anthropologist visiting Earth from another planet; a time-traveler from the future who's doing a documentary on this historical moment; a religious pilgrim who's keeping a detailed journal.
I am listening to "Personal Jesus" right now as I type..... synchronicity??

P.S. Don't forget it's Daylight Savings time this weekend - Fall Back!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

This Weekend, Folks

I was just wondering when it was time to reset the clocks, and now I know. h/t Jennifer. :)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Moxie's post for Ray

Moxie's post today really moved me, so I'm going to quote some of it here:

Someone I loved and lost once told me, "It's no trick for God to work through someone perfect. The more broken you are, the more God shows his glory by shining through you." Whether you believe in a guiding force or not, the universe creates imperfection. You in all your weakness are exactly what we need.

Please stay. Even if you don't know how. Just keep getting up in the morning. Eat what you can. Drink water. Go to bed, even if you can't sleep. Go outside and turn your face to the sun. If you can, do this with Teresa for 3 minutes a few times a day. And tell someone how you feel. A friend. A stranger. Leave it in the comments here.

Don't go.

This post is for my friend Ray, who went.

My friend Moxie posted the above about our mutual friend Ray. Moxie is a fabulous woman, and fierce friend. What I love most about her blog posts is that she is thoughtful AND includes CONCRETE advice for how to get through the rough patches (see above).

At my college we had this comment board at the dining halls where you could put up suggestions or comments or whatever on napkins - often the closest piece of paper to hand while in the dining hall. I don't remember when I started doing this, but after reading many awful and negative flame wars on the napkin notes, I decided to ONLY post positive napkin notes. Like, "thanks for the yummy vegan chocolate cake, who knew it could be so delicious!?" I'm all about the positive feedback - life's too short not to tell people when they're doing a good job, or even "just" keepin' on keepin' on. I feel like I'm continuing the "napkin notes of life."

One of the things that sucks about death is that no matter what: you never know if people read the positive napkin notes, or whether they believed they were about them. But Moxie's quotation above is wonderful:

"It's no trick for God to work through someone perfect. The more broken you are, the more God shows his glory by shining through you."
Hang in there Moxie, and all who grieve for Ray. And all who struggle just to make it through.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Cool Grannies & Fifinella

"During World War II, a select group of young women pilots became pioneers, heroes, and role models...They were the Women Airforce Service Pilots, WASP, the first women in history trained to fly American military aircraft."

My friend's grandmother was one of these women.

"This official mascot was designed by Walt Disney for a proposed film (from Roahl Dahl's book, "The Gremlins". During WWII, the WASP asked for permission to use her as the official mascot and the Disney Company generously agreed. Official Fifinella 'went to war' and was worn in the form of patches. Some were leather, some were cloth...worn on WASP flight jackets."
She recently got a "Fifinella" tattoo. I'm not a tattoo gal, myslef, but this is SO awesome. I'm going to tell my daughters this story.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day [] is the first large-scale grassroots global campaign against climate change. Its supporters include leading scientists, the governments of 92 countries, and a huge variety of environmental, health, development and religious NGOs. All
agree that current atmospheric levels of CO2 -- 390 parts per million -- are causing damage to the planet and to its most vulnerable people, and that government action at the United Nations Copenhagen climate conference is required to bring the earth's carbon level swiftly down to 350 ppm.

What is 350? 350 is the number that leading scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Scientists measure carbon dioxide in "parts per million" (ppm), so 350 ppm is the number humanity needs to get below as soon as possible to avoid runaway climate change. To get there, we need a different kind of PPM -- a "people powered movement" that is made of of people like you in every corner of the planet.
Go to for more info.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Autumn Meme etc.

I found this meme on the blog The Kitchen Door [thanks Charlotte for the link!] I love her "Prayer Request Wednesday" feature - check it out! Anyways, to the meme:

1. Share a Fall memory.
Of course jumping in a pile of leaves that my dad raked. Walking outside in the crisp air. Beautiful blue skies, orange leaves blowing in the breeze. Apple picking and eating. Waking up warm and cozy in bed.

2. Your favorite Fall clothes--(past or present)?
Warm sweaters. A gift from a friend of hand-me-down oxblood leather boots that go great with all my plaid skirts. Woolly tights.

3. Share a campfire story, song, experience...etc.
Not really a campfire song, but my college has a tradition of singing Greek hymns outside in candlelight in November. It's beautiful and haunting and amazing.

4. What is your favorite thing about this time of year?
I used to hate this time of year because I would always catch a cold that would last all winter. And I hated being cold all winter, with the snow and dreariness and all. But I have come to really appreciate fall for the beautiful season that it is. The colors and crispness of it all is overwhelming some days. In my household, everyone but me has their birthday in the fall, so it makes it a time of celebration. Plus we host Thanksgiving, and who doesn't love Halloween? I also think All Soul's Day is one of the most beautiful ideas out there, and so I try to create a WASPified Dia de los Muertos, if you can picture that. I plan to take the photos of the family members that have died and put them on the dining room table w/candles and then cook a big Mexican feast. Yummy.

5. What changes are you anticipating in your life, your church, the season changes and winter approaches?
I am considering what becoming a chaplain would mean for me. How I would do it, how much schooling I would need, how I would do it w/my current life situation, etc. While I remember that my daughters are growing each and every day. I don't want to let that slip by in a cloud of busyness - where I don't recognize their awesomeness. [I didn't sign up for Moxie's Release the Yelling class, but hope to when I have more time/less insanity in my schedule.....]

Bonus: What food says "AUTUMN" at your house? Recipes always appreciated.
Pumpkin pie. I use the recipe on the Libby's can. It's the best.

* 3/4 cup granulated sugar
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
* 2 large eggs
* 1 can (15 oz.) LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
* 1 can (12 fl. oz.) NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Evaporated Milk
* 1 unbaked 9-inch (4-cup volume) deep-dish pie shell
* Whipped cream (optional)

Friday, October 9, 2009

For the Weekend

True Faith by New Order

WOW: That Rob Brezsny!
"Tenderness and rot / share a border," writes the U.S. Poet Laureate Kay Ryan in one of her poems. "And rot is an / aggressive neighbor / whose iridescence / keeps creeping over." Your job in the coming week, Pisces, is to reinforce that border -- with a triple-thick wall, if necessary -- so that the rot cannot possibly ooze over and infect tenderness. It is especially important right now that the sweet, deep intimacy you dole out and stimulate will not get corrupted by falseness or sentimentality. I urge you to stir up the smartest affection you have ever created.
That's my horoscope for this week. Whew.

Have a good weekend, All!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Religious Art in the News


Religious art in the news! I read about this first on the Huffington Post, which got the news from Mother Jones. The artist Jon McNaughton and his painting, "One Nation Under God" was "above the fold" on the Huffington Post this morning.

I finally got to the artist's website to take a look but wasn't able to use the roll-over feature to identify the people in the painting - I think it's overwhelmed by hits.

I don't agree with McNaughton's politics, and I'm always a little suspicious when artists try to conflate religion and politics - but it happens a lot. He's chosen a scene which he is hoping will visually spread his beliefs. That's what I like about religious art - the use of symbols to get ideas across.

He's heavy handed in this case, and McNaughton uses words to describe the message of the image, which also waters it down (imo). The painting feels pedantic to me. I don't think it's as successful as other political uses of the image of Jesus because of all his explication.

But, it's exciting to see religious art make news!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Klimt for a beautiful Fall day

What a beautiful image. Just perfect for a gorgeous fall day.

As many of you know, I am truly inspired by Terry's blog Idle Speculations (where this image is from). You gotta check it out if you like Christian religious art. Lots of research goes into each post. As ever, keep up the great work, Terry!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Cool Architectural Idea

I don't know if this really counts as religious art, but it certainly is a cool idea. bldgblog featured the work of Yousef Al-Mehdari, an architecture student as part of an upcoming exhibition at the dreamspace gallery in London.

The work reminds me of the Alhambra, in Spain - gorgeous. And, since I've seen the "anatomy" exhibit of Dr. Gunther Von Haagens' "Bodyworlds," I can appreciate the link bldgblog is making. As ever, keep up the great work!

The inscription reads - "There is no other help than the help that comes from God, the clement and merciful One."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


OK, people, bear with me here - I am sort of rocked by the synchronicity of the universe right now.

So this past Sunday at church, we heard readings from James (The Prayer of Faith 5:13-20) and the Gospel of Mark (9:38-50), and our Rector, Jim, spoke about the "main ideas" he took away from the readings and how to incorporate them into our lives. I am going to try to paraphrase. Because I feel like "it all makes sense"and I'm having an "aha" moment. Fr. Jim spends a lot of his sermons talking about how God loves us, and wants us to do God's work in the world to bring us closer to God.

13Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. [James 5]

Fr Jim talked at length about how important prayer is, and how it really can help the sick and suffering among us. At our church we have a lay person (a massage therapist in the workaday world) who offers unction each week. This is a pretty unique aspect to this church and something I have come to really respect and admire. Many members of the congregation go to her each week and have "laying on of hands" to feel better.

And then he related the reading from James to the Gospel [Mark 9]:

38"Teacher," said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us." 39"Do not stop him," Jesus said. "No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 40for whoever is not against us is for us. 41I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward. 42"And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck. 43If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.[c] 45And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell.[d] 47And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'[e] 49Everyone will be salted with fire. 50"Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other."
He admitted, as will I, that this message in the Gospel is not an easy one for many liberal Christians to hear because many of us do not believe in a hell full of fire and brimstone. We think (or I'll say I) I think hell is when we remove ourselves from God's presence, and engage in destructive (bad) behavior that hurts ourselves and others. That by NOT participating in prayer and by putting oneself away from God's love, that is sin. And that THOSE are the flames that eat at us. He talked about us being salted with fire.

I was sitting next to Josiah, who suffers from arthritis, and as Fr. Jim was speaking, I got a sense of Josiah's "inflammation" in his body, like his body is "salted with fire." And I prayed for him.

[I sometimes feel awkward about prayer - like me "just talking with God" doesn't really cut it. That I need to find someone else's words to "make it count."] So, I went online and I looked up St James the Greater (who is the one who wrote the letter above) and found this prayer:
Prayer to Saint James the Greater*

O Glorious Saint James, because of your fervor and generosity Jesus chose you to witness his glory on the Mount and his agony in the Garden. Obtain for us strength and consolation in the unending struggles of this life. Help us to follow Christ constantly and generously, to be victors over all our difficulties, and to receive the crown of glory in heaven. Amen.

That's beautiful. All of us struggle from time to time.

And then I found out that St James is the "patron saint of rheumatoid sufferers." Holy Synchronicity, Batman!

"Help us to follow Christ constantly and generously, to be victors over all our difficulties, and to receive the crown of glory in heaven. Amen."

* I'm not sure I believe fully in the idea that one should pray to saints as intermediaries. I was raised to believe that Jesus is the sole intermediary for us, that he is the one to pray to. BUT, the idea of the saints is appealing to me, and it "makes sense" to me too. And the idea that in their human lives, these saintly people understood people with similar concerns and could advocate for them, I love that! I still want to make the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, now more than ever.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

St John's Bible - I saw it!

So, Everybody, I got to see the St John's Bible at Old St George's Church in Philly today. It was AWESOME. This Bible version contains the 4 Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Lukle & John) plus Acts (the Acts of the Apostles, which people believe was written by the same writer as the author of Luke). All of the calligraphy was done by hand - by 5 writers. The artwork was done by 18 artists.

It's funny - it's a big red book, much like what I imagine Carl Jung's, Liber Novus, would look like. The images are so beautiful. There are several botanical or Audubon-esque figures of birds and insects. But some of my favorites were icons. Other favorites were very modern images - amalgams of symbols from the gospel stories in gold leaf and strong colors. I urge you to try to see the book if you can - it was free here in Philadelphia.

You can also see reproductions of the art, and buy note cards, etc. of some of the more striking artwork within. Some of my favorites from today were some of the Hymns from Luke, and the icons. The volunteer who was turning pages for me and La Prima as we looked at the book, agreed with me that one of the characters represented in one of the most striking icons (I think it was of the Last Supper*) was Rumi. I love that thought. Beautiful work.

* UPDATE: Upon further reflection, I think the image was of "The Great Commission" of Pentecost. An even more beautiful thought!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Carl Jung

I have been a fan of Carl Jung's since high school. I am so psyched to see this book! It looks amazing. The NYT article is pretty good. The quotation below is from the article, and is a quote from Jung who was speaking to a patient of his:

“I should advise you to put it all down as beautifully as you can — in some beautifully bound book,” Jung instructed. “It will seem as if you were making the visions banal — but then you need to do that — then you are freed from the power of them. . . . Then when these things are in some precious book you can go to the book & turn over the pages & for you it will be your church — your cathedral — the silent places of your spirit where you will find renewal. If anyone tells you that it is morbid or neurotic and you listen to them — then you will lose your soul — for in that book is your soul.”

Monday, September 21, 2009

Last Night on TV

On my friend Marie's suggestion I watched "Lewis" last night. I was only impressed by the last 15 seconds of the show. She also rated last night's episode a "B-/C+". Much more to her liking is the episode, "Life Born of Fire", which I will hold out for before I pass judgement on the series as a whole.

Anyway, after that there was a brief food/travelogue show on called, "Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie" which was featuring Turkish food, and the breaking of the fast, or Iftar, in Istanbul ["Turkey: Iftar in Istanbul"]. WOW! Now, I LOVE Turkish food. And watching this show was like a dream. The food looked amazing. And seeing Istanbul on TV, in all its glory - being able to show Josiah what I've been talking about all these years - was a real treat! It made us vow to get there as soon as physically possible. Yummy food too!

Here's the blurbage from the website:

Travel to Istanbul, an ancient Turkish city with a culinary past that weaves its way through the Byzantine, Roman, and Ottoman empires. During the holy month of Ramadan, locals fast from sunrise to sunset. Join a food author for the Iftar meal, the traditional feast when the fast is broken. Visit the famed 150-year-old bakery that makes Turkish flatbread pide, a mainstay of the Iftar, in a time-consuming, authentically traditional way. Discover the beauty of güllaç, a multilayered dessert studded with pistachios and pomegranates, and meet a family that has perfected the art of making Turkish delight, an early ancestor of the jellybean. In the Gourmet test kitchen, executive editor John “Doc” Willoughby prepares spicy grilled köfte, a Turkish street-food favorite that gets its irresistible flavor from a unique blend of spices.

Friday, September 11, 2009

George Krause's Work - Haunting

I just found out about George Krause on Morbid Anatomy. These are exactly the kinds of statues that I responded to SO much during my trip to Mexico.

He responds to the emotional-ness of the works as much as I do, read below:

More about the series, from his website:
"Saints and Martyrs pays homage to the anonymous artisans who fashioned the statues...These sculptures transcend most folk art," (Krause) says. 'They are not conceptually motivated. The sculptor felt the suffering, and it allowed him to create something beyond himself and beyond the repetitive forms usually handed down among folk artists. I am responding to the artisan's passion and his unique vision."
George Krause, A Retrospective, Anne W. Tucker

It's great, and more than a little creepy. Beautifully emotional.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

John Paul Jones

A friend of mine just shared this youtube video with me - it's pretty funny (contains explicit lyrics but otherwise SFW).

John Paul Jones [not the drummer] is the one who said, "We have not yet begun to fight!" which is the rallying cry I am trying to co-opt for the Environmental movement. Not too much success yet, but it's early going. Check out the "Serapis" flag.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


I seriously DO love the web. There is so much synchronicity that is proved to me, almost daily, that I am amazed.

Anyway, I went to one of my favorite blogs this morning, bldgblog, and saw this post about the "Landscapes of Quarantine" show announced by the blogger:

Quarantine is both an ancient spatial practice and a state of monitored isolation, dating back at least to the Black Death – if not to Christ's 40 days in the desert – yet it has re-emerged today as an issue of urgent biological, political, and even architectural importance in an era of global tourism and flu pandemics.

Quarantine touches on serious constitutional issues associated with involuntary medical isolation, as well as on questions of governmental authority, regional jurisdiction, and the limits of inter-state cooperation. Quarantine is as much a matter of national security, public safety, and agricultural biodiversity as it is an entry point into discussions of race, purity, and unacknowledged discrimination.

And when I went to religious imagery in culture the topic of their most recent post was called "exclusion" which is where I found the image (above) by Will Govus. It's a great photo - why are the surveillance cameras there??

Cool, right!?! Those of you who know me, know how much I love the liturgical season of Lent. But I had never really thought of Jesus' 40 days in the desert as a self-imposed quarantine. Which makes me think about not only the fast, but the idea of quarantine all the more. For those who haven't read it, I recommend Daniel Defoe's "A Journal of the Plague Year". Not as great as Moll Flanders (imo), but a great description of the need for effective quarantines.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Under the Hagia Sophia

Found this link in my daily blog-reading and am amazed [thanks bldgblog for your awesomeness, as always!]. It just sounds SO COOL! Like Jacques Cousteau meets Indiana Jones. Or Steve Zissou!

Anyway, on one of my visits to Turkey, we stumbled across an excavated-but-abandoned archaeological site which had been flooded. The doorway arches loomed out of the water, and frogs were splashing around. I felt like I'd found Atlantis or something. But tunnels under the Hagia Sophia sounds so Byzantine!! [get it?]

I can't find the upcoming film of the expeditions at the site on IMDB yet, but according to the Hürriyet article,
His 50-minute documentary, “Ayasofya’nın Derinliklerinde” (In the Depths of Hagia Sophia), will compete at international festivals starting in the fall.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

"St John's Bible" Event

I just found out about an upcoming event at St George's Church in Philadelphia.

September 26, 2009, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. the St John's Bible will be on display as part of St George's 3rd Annual "Smithsonian Museum Day."

You can go here for more details, but this is from the press release:

For the third year in a row, St. George’s is participating in the Smithsonian Museum Day, welcoming the community to our museum. Special exhibit includes the Heritage facsimile edition of the new illuminated masterpiece, the St. John’s Bible. Thanks to Donald Jackson, the artistic director of the original manuscript, the Heritage Edition is a work of art in its own right. Leading manuscript experts recognize it as the highest quality reproduction ever made. Commissioned by Saint John’s Abbey and University, The Saint John’s Bible is a contemporary work created in the tradition of handwritten medieval manuscripts. The Artistic Director of the project, Donald Jackson, is one of the world’s foremost Western calligraphers and Senior Scribe to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s Crown Office at the House of Lords. During the past eleven years, Jackson has worked in rural Wales, with scribes and artists to write and illuminate The Saint John’s Bible entirely by hand, using quills and paints hand ground from precious minerals and stones such as lapis lazuli, vermilion, malachite, silver, copper, and 24-karat gold. To learn more, please visit

I hope to see some of you there!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

LA Poretentosa Vida de la Muerte

One of my new favorite blogs is "Morbid Anatomy". They recently had a guest post by Salvador Olguin who had recently given a lecture which they attended:

One of the most interesting things Olguin touched on in his lecture was a book I had never heard of: the fantastically illustrated (see above) La Portentosa Vida de la Muerte (The Astounding Life of Death). This book--a kind of whimsical and irreverent life history of Death in the form of a woman--was published in Mexico in the 18th Century and was, as he explains, highly influential in Mexican culture.... [click here to read more!]

The images that accompany the post are all from La Portentosa..., and remind me A LOT of images from the Tarot, which, according to lore, was coming into being in the late 15th Century. Though, the Tarot supposedly follows the "life of the Fool". Fascinating. I will look for this book in the library.

Friday, July 24, 2009

New John the Baptist Icon

The site religious imagery in culture has been blowing me away recently with their posts. This image they found at Carioca Studio. Go check out the "Work" section, under Icons, and you'll find more beautiful images, including one, of (I think) Mary Magdalene, my other favorite saint.

Amazing work!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Good Times!

So, I first heard this song on the Twilight soundtrack - BUT - the film is set in Berlin, Germany. It brings back so many memories for me. I had a great time visiting a cousin in Berlin in 1991. Ah, so awesome. I want to go back!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Great Vacation!

We drove over 3,500 miles, but somehow I feel refreshed! [Josiah DID do all the driving.] There's still lots to do this summer.


Monday, July 6, 2009


Dear All,

I'm "going off on a 'toot,'" as my dad would say when our old dog would take off around the neighborhood. The Grand Forets will be traveling around our fair nation to go to a wedding, and visit friends along the way.

I found this image of St Cecilia, patron saint of musicians, on Idle Speculations, my favorite Religious Art site. Terry does such a great job.

Whether there is music in your summer or not, enjoy!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Love Conquers All?

Fair warning: this post is LONG!

So, All, I have finished reading the Twilight Saga. I will say that it would have happened sooner if I'd bought the last book when I first saw it at the Last Word used book shop, here in Philly. Instead I waited 'til I was ready to read it and then had to wait 2-3 weeks or so until another copy arrived. I have to say, though, that the Last Word is definitely the place to get used books. They remember you, and what you want, and are great about continually getting new stuff in.

With that endorsement out of the way, here's what I thought: The Twilight books are not the best-written books ever. If I read the words "perfect," "sculpted," "stone" or "cool" in reference to a vampire again, I think I'll gag.

What I liked best about Twilight was the description of Bella's crush on Edward. It reminded me so much of the crushes I've had, and the way I felt when the object of my affection was near me, or touched me. That electric, inept feeling was so clear. What's NOT so clear is why Bella is in love with Edward, "in LUST" yes, that's obvious. But it was also very easy to understand why the story was so chaste, given the fact that Edward is a vampire. It was refreshing to see feminine desire described, and played out, even if there was a fair amount of repression that had to happen so that nobody died. Edward seems like the logical extension of Anne Rice's character, Louis de Pointe du Lac, from "Interview with a Vampire," as a vampire who feeds only on animals, not humans, to survive. I also think the choice of Rob Pattinson was inspired, even if it means that poor (human) Rob will be hounded to the ends of the earth forever because of it.

Out of the whole series I liked New Moon best, because I loved the character of Jacob. I admire steadfastness as a trait, and Jacob is nothing if not loyal. I think he gets pretty shafted throughout the story, but he's my favorite character.

I thought Eclipse was really just a bridge to the last book. It was nice to see the characters of Edward and Jacob have a rapprochement, but really, it read like a comic book, without pictures of gorgeous vampires and werewolves.

And then there's Breaking Dawn. It's interesting, because here I am, in my late 30's, with children in my life, and if I were writing about vampires, is this also where I would end the story?

Bella becomes pregnant with Edward's child. It's a very difficult pregnancy - how could it not be, really - and several people consider ending the pregnancy. Bella, however, joins forces with her former nemesis, Rosalie, in order to keep the fetus alive. The delivery is gruesome, and in order to save Bella, Edward must turn her into a vampire with his venom. Bella becomes the vampire she always wanted to be, is married to Edward, and has a half human-half vampire daughter. I thought it was a pretty convenient plot device, but in a "Hollywood ending" way, Jacob "imprints" on Reneesme immediately, and so will always be protective of and present in Reneesme's life, in whatever form that needs to take - caretaker, friend, lover, husband, etc.

My first thought when I finished reading Breaking Dawn was that the idea I was meant to take away from this saga was that "love conquers all." Bella becomes a vampire after many struggles and transforms from a truly awkward human to a truly amazing, powerful vampire - she was klutzy, even for a human, as a human, and has an extreme super power for a vampire, as a vampire. Even though I think Bella was taken in by Edward's (and the rest of the vamps') camouflage (attractive looks, smell, strength, sound, etc.), she never seemed to really analyze what she was doing until Rosalie confronted her. She was mesmerized by Edward, and I thought in a shallow way just wanted to become a vampire so she could be with him forever. She never really seemed to consider the real consequences until it began to affect her physical relationship with him.

Edward "made a deal" with her that he required her to marry him. Once married, she understood the awesomeness of sex, and most especially, sex with Edward. So, she started making deals of her own - more years as a human, more sex, before ending her life (e.g. becoming a vampire). And he agreed, because he never wanted her to become a vampire in the first place. It's interesting to me how her awakenings happen through physical means. And that her human sexuality is what makes her powerful (even though she is completely in the thrall of Edward and his family, and is entirely defenseless if another vamp is nearby). It's when she becomes pregnant that the paradigm shifts again. Everyone is concerned about the "monster" she is carrying. And she starts acting, in my opinion, like many pregnant women - forms an attachment with the fetus, takes care of it as best she can, even if she starts doing weird stuff. [The whole thing about her pregnancy diet is gross, so I won't go there.] Interestingly, that section of the book is told from Jacob's point of view, so, it's not as intimate, but of course, he's upset during her pregnancy because she's in so much pain. There IS an inordinate amount of time in the whole saga when Bella is suffering physically, and it gets a little tiring to read through.

But whether it's a plot device, or it's really the "message" of Twilight, Bella becomes powerful through her child. She would have died because of the baby, but now she's immortal. She can hold her own with Edward now in bed (no limits once she's a vamp). She discovers that she's got a vampire super-power, which she hones quickly in order to save her family. Is this the new "coming of age" story for young women?

I sort of jest. But, seriously, I think it's interesting that the woman who wrote these books has kids and is in her 30's. As you may know, I am struggling with my upcoming (big) birthday. And I'm trying to make sense of my "self" so far. I realize that my youth is gone. And while I am happy with my life, and my family, I sometimes struggle with day-to-day responsibilities and commitments, and I wonder what the future will have in store for me. What I can relate to in Bella's story, is the desire to have "a perfect forever." I wish and hope that my family will be safe and happy and whole forever, and Bella is able to achieve that. She is a strong lover and mother. She becomes MORE sexy with motherhood, and powerful in ways that are hard for even vampires to fathom. It's a nice fantasy for a character who started out so average and normal. What do you all think?? Leave me a comment or two.

There are other critiques to be made, and I have copied some of them below, all from Wikipedia's Breaking Dawn site:

Breaking Dawn has received generally negative reviews. Publishers Weekly stated that the main problem was that "Essentially, everyone gets everything they want, even if their desires necessitate an about-face in characterization or the messy introduction of some back story. Nobody has to renounce anything or suffer more than temporarily--in other words, grandeur is out."[10] In an article by The Associated Press journalist Sara Rose posted on wrote that fans of the series would love "engaging characters, great humor, a distracting obsession with beauty, focus on the minutiae of emotions", however "casual readers may be disappointed with a lot of build-up and little action."[11] The Independent called the book, "shockingly, tackily, sick-makingly sexist" and said that "Bella Swan lives to serve men and suffer." [12] Entertainment Weekly graded Breaking Dawn with a D, criticizing the birth scene and Bella's "unwavering passion for Edward" and having no other goals.[13] The Washington Post also responded with a negative review, making comments such as, "...Meyer has put a stake through the heart of her own beloved creation," and, "Breaking Dawn has a childbirth sequence that may promote lifelong abstinence in sensitive types."[14] However, an article in The Daily News Tribune, a small town newspaper, Margaret Smith says of Breaking Dawn "You too might fall in love with its suspense and moving sensitivity -- and with the unlikely couple struggling to find light within their world’s heart of darkness."[15]

Thursday, June 25, 2009

My horoscope this Week

uh oh:*

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): (My horoscope for the week of June 24th)

A delicious forbidden fruit will be more available than usual in the coming weeks. You can choose to ignore it, of course. You can pretend it's not even there and instead concentrate on the less forbidden fruits that are tasty enough. Or, on the other hand, you can sidle up closer to the forbidden fruit and engage in some discreet explorations, testing subtly to see whether it's any healthier for your sanity than it used to be. I'm not sure what the best decision is, Pisces, but I do suggest this: Don't just rip off all your defenses, forget all your commitments, and start heedlessly taking big bites out of the forbidden fruit.

Funny: that seems to be the theme underlying the Twilight Saga books. I am almost done with the last one of the series, and while I don't feel ready to comment on the whole "message" yet, there is definitely a subtext about controlling one's physical desires. But it's the quotation from Genesis at the beginning of Twilight that is obviously connecting with my horoscope (above) from Rob Brezsny:

Genesis 2:17
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

I've been having a recurring nightmare for the past several years where I wake up an hour or two after I fall asleep and can't determine whether I'm still alive, or dead.

I look around my room, and it seems different. I take stock. I look at everything and it feels out of place, and I feel like there is a voice, or a message, telling me that "this isn't real, it's not your real life, you're on the other side now." And it takes me a good 5 minutes or so to figure out that I'm actually alive.

This nightmare went away for a while, but has been back in full effect recently. I wonder if my Twilight obsession is feeding in to this - the idea of eternal life mixed up with eternal death. It's very unsettling. I've been thinking that this is happening because of my big birthday coming up.... but maybe not. Do you all have any ideas?

* I don't generally put a whole lot of stock in horoscopes. I don't think they predict the future. But I do think that one should take a close look at "coincidences" and see if there is a message from the Divine that I should be listening to. The stained glass is from Chartres Cathedral, in France.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Happy Midsummer!

I hope you and yours have an awesome Midsummer, or St John the Baptist's Day, whichever you call it. I just found out that the Finnish National newspaper (Int'l edition), Helsingin Sanomat, takes the whole month of July off, I guess it's "a slow news time" there, after Midsummer and all. Finland is great!

I guess over the weekend in Rutland, VT(?) there was a Finnish Midsummer festival. I love the "wife-carrying contest".

On Saturday we had our own Midsummer party - a dinner party for some local friends and neighbors. It was potluck and fun! I'm hoping we can make it a tradition. Finnish flag was flying too.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Translating Mary

My dear friend, Mama K has a new blog: Filling the Chalice. It's awesome! [Way to go Mama K!]

Anyways, I can relate to her recent post on "language barrier" in chruch - the spiritual/religious sphere. She and I talk about this a fair amount. But, being raised in the Episcopal church, the liturgical year, and Bible stories are my foundation. So, when people talk using those terms, I "get it". Even though my most "spiritual" (spiritually moving - that brought me back to religion) was during a Wiccan ceremony. That was when I realized that there was a cosmic force that was powerful out there.

But for me to understand and participate in religion, I need to have a community and a structure, I can't create it from scratch (which is how all the Wiccan groups have been that I've been involved in, and it's too hard for me). But, what I love about the Church's liturgical calendar, is that it pretty much follows the Solar calendar* (which is the foundation of Wiccan practice - along with the Lunar calendar, of course).

Anyways, I had an epiphany when I read the Mists of Avalon, and thought about Mary as the continuation of the Goddess in mainstream Chrisitian practice. That she's never gone away. And that is a thought that gives me a lot of comfort.

* I'll write more about this later, but I'm planning a St John the Baptist's Day celebration for our church on June 24th. Stay tuned for more details.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Brandish Your Piece for Jesus

I'll start with this quotation, which I found on Faith & Theology, and was labeled, "a quote for Pentecost":
“It is the Spirit’s work to draw what might otherwise be a cacophonic disunity into symphony. The Spirit worked to transcribe God’s music for playing on the human instrument of Jesus of Nazareth; the Spirit now works to orchestrate that theme for an ensemble of billions.” —Mike Higton, Christian Doctrine, (SCM 2008), 161.

Because I'm not sure how to reconcile the idea that Jesus "packs heat." I found the image (great graphic!) and story at Gawker. This is incredibly disturbing:
"In light of George Tiller being gunned down in a church, this blows the mind: a Louisville pastor wants to expand his flock by encouraging them to brandish firearms while they worship." - Gawker
Here is a potential rebuttal to the Louisville pastor, from Monte Asbury's blog. It's a long quotation, but we need something to counteract the firearm brandishers! Sheesh:

"I’ve been thinking a lot about why we come here.

We need a sense of that – a sense of what we’re here for. Just making a church bigger – that doesn’t do it for me. We’ve been down that road. It isn’t enough to satisfy my hunger.

Why do I come here?

I think I want one thing more than anything else: I want to bring love into my world. I want to bring it to my family. I want to bring it to you. I want to bring it to people on the street. I want to bring it to political decisions. I want to bring it to unloved people. I want to bring it to people on the internet. I want to bring it to the nations of the world.

I want love to change this world. I want it to smother tragedy. I want it to expose selfishness. I want it to change the way my family lives, my workplace operates, my government thinks.

What I want to do here is to re-capture that source of love – and share it in such a way that you do, too – so that love will make everything you touch as you walk through your week just a little different than it was before.

But my world doesn’t get that. It thinks love is a wimpy thing, not the way of heroes. So all week long I talk and visit and write to people who are convinced the Kingdom of God is not enough, and it cannot bring what the world needs. And sometimes their arguments wear me down.

And that’s why I come here. It’s because we’re doing something together. We’re believers that the love of God is stronger than anything that’s wrong in the world. We’re determined to bring it to the places we live and work and vote and write. You’re doing something."

And hopefully, we're doing something for the common good.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Half Way Through....

So, all, I'm half way through the Twilight Saga, and I gotta say, I'm hooked.

I started out a firm supporter of "Team Edward", but at this point, am fully behind "Team Jacob," I don't see how that feeling will "wane", but you never know.....

Dude. It's intense. :)


Check it out: Adult Swim encapsulates the series for us... funny.

La Pieta OR "Heaven to Hell" by Lachapelle, and more

WOW. Not sure about Courtney Love as Mary, but....

Thanks to religious imagery in culture for the image. Be sure to visit their blog for more fantastic religious art and images. They've been posting some amazing stuff recently - keep up the great work!

I just found this link to the outstanding work of Azerbaijani photographer Rena Effendi today, via Heading East. You've got to check it out. You'll understand the connection when you get there. Fantastic work!

Friday, May 29, 2009

More on Healing in Religious Art

I just found this posting on one of my new favorite blogs, Morbid Anatomy. It's about the chapel at St Roch Cemetery in New Orleans. Go on over to M.A. and check out the whole post! There are more amazing photos, and an historical account of the cemetery itself (reminiscent of Jezebel).

I guess it's more "proof" of the power of faith in healing. This image makes me think of the Basilica of St Anne de Beaupre in Quebec, where the interior of the church is covered with old crutches, donated by the healed pilgrims.

It also reminds me of one of my pal Bob's recent post about creepy religious art imagery, and in particular, the case of St Lucy . I guess this statue is St Lucy....