Dishes With Attitude

Depression Glass

Depression glass sounds, well, depressing. It is far from it as can be seen in the photos below. Depression glass was made from 1929 to 1939 in the United States during the, you guessed it, Depression. Such pieces in beautiful colors of pink, yellow and green, are collectors pieces today and I have about two dozen dishes passed down by my maternal grandmother who I called Mammy. I love them because they were hers and then my Mom’s. I wonder where they will end up, because my heirs are not likely to really care for them. They are not that practical to use, since they are rather fancy in design. I’m guessing that they brightened the daily life of many homemakers during the depression when money and everything else was scarce.

One of the best things about these fancy dishes is that they could often be obtained for free in products such as Quaker Oats or at very low prices, making it possible for most homes to have at least a few pieces during that era. My depression glass makes me happy because of the memories it evokes.

Carnival Glass

Carnival glass is harder to describe so I’m going to rely on the three photos below and Wikipedia: “Carnival glass gets its iridescent sheen from the application of metallic salts while the glass is still hot from the pressing. A final firing of the glass brings out the iridescent properties of the salts, giving carnival glass the distinct shine it is known for.”

Carnival glass was first made in the US, but later was produced in almost every country. It was particularly popular in Australia. Huge production took place in the 1920s, again when housewives were looking to brighten up drab lifestyles and homes. The name comes from the fact that such pieces were often given as prizes at carnivals and fairgrounds. Much of it was sold, however, and some pieces today are collector’s items which can be worth considerable amounts of money, particularly the scarce colors. Carnival glass is fun because it is so different from what we commonly see today.

I have a few pieces of Carnaval glass passed down by each of my Grandmothers.

Fiesta

Fiesta dish ware speaks for itself! It is made in a fiesta of colors and it has brightened my home for over 60 years. It comes in open stock and I chose it for my dishes rather than a china pattern when I wed back in 1960. China came later, but Fiesta dishes served our family growing up and still decks my table today, everyday.

Fiesta is a line of ceramic glazed dishes introduced by the Home Laughlin Company of West Virginia in 1936. The art deco style dinnerware was not manufactured from 1973 to 1985 but is produced today in the colors in the photos below and many others. Over the years colors are introduced and then retired. A few of those pieces I have from Mammy’s kitchen, gray, rose and a very dark green.

Fun fact, at one point some Fiesta colors were found to be slightly radioactive, due to uranium compounds being used in the ceramic glaze. I have one such piece, a bright coral salad plate. I will keep it forever. I think my Fiesta dishes will find happy homes after I die, because my daughters and at least one granddaughter enjoy pieces already.

Cut Glass

Cut Glass dishes are not as prevalent as the other fun kinds described above. I have one cut glass bowl seen below. Cut glass is not the same as glass etching. Rather it feels slightly sharp to the touch at each of the cut surfaces. Pressed glass looks similar but is smoother and less valuable. I wish I knew the history of this cut glass bowl, but all I know is that it was my Mother’s and she loved and valued it, so I do as well.

Lanterns

Like most other people during this pandemic I’ve been staying close to home. Even family get-togethers are not safe in these COVID days. Once every couple of weeks I drive one mile up the road to pick up my pre-ordered groceries that workers safely place in my car. That’s it as far as going places so I was particularly excited last night.

My two daughters and I drove to our destination in separate cars, we wore masks and we social distanced, but still I couldn’t wait for our adventure! I even wore makeup and felt like I was going on a date. The tickets were expensive and limited to allow for lots of space between guests. Where was our big night?

Wild Lights Asian Lantern Festival at the Louisville Zoo

The Louisville Zoo is one of my favorite places because of the animals, of course, but the animals on display last night were made of silk of every color of the rainbow.

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Most were very realistic looking and all were brightly lit. There were more than 2,000 lanterns displayed in 65 larger than life scenes. It was a fantastical journey of about one and a quarter miles. There was a 130 foot-long dragon set on a small lake with a fountain. It was beautiful.

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Being with my two most favorite people made it perfect. They took the photos as I was too excited to have patience with a camera. These pictures are all compliments of Dianne.

 

 

Violins of Hope

Violins of Hope

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a concert by the Louisville Orchestra led by conductor Terry Abrams. That is always a delightful experience but last night’s performance was extra special in that it caused one to reflect on a dreadful past and to hope for a future that is free for all people. The program was entitled Violins of Hope.

Violins have long been a favorite instrument of the Jewish people and they were present during the holocaust. Many of these violins belonging to Jewish prisoners have been saved even when their owners were not. Over the past fifty years, these instruments have been reclaimed from that horror and repaired by Amnon Weinstein and his son Avshalom, who spoke last evening.

Several of these consecrated violins that brought the hope of music to prisoners of war were on display and some were even played by members of the Louisville Orchestra.

The program honored the Jewish people and their struggle for survival. The orchestra performed the music of Klezmer Rondos, the ballet Judith, three pieces from Schindler’s List and a narration from the Diary of Anne Frank. It was an extremely moving performance.

We were fortunate indeed to have these violins and their message of hope in Louisville for a short while. Below are photos of a few taken from a Louisville Orchestra program.

“Wherever there were violins, there was hope.” Amnon Weinstein

 

The Art Teacher

Today I met a woman who discussed art with me. She commented on the Hockney print in my office stating it reminded her of a Grandma Moses. I confessed I knew little of Moses’ style. I told her that I had bought the poster at the Metropolitan Museum of Art while attending a Hockney Exhibition, explaining that I had chosen it because I disliked it least of his available works.IMG_9228

She told me about an exhibit across the street at a bank building. I have forgotten the artist’s name. She spoke briefly about artists in our city not having much of a market. She remarked about the taste of our CEO who invests millions in various art forms displayed about our corporate headquarters. I thanked her for sharing her knowledge with me and she went on with her cleaning for you see she was the janitor.

As I watched her unassuming figure walk away pushing the trash cart I did not doubt that she knew art and appreciated it. I thought how much we assume about people based upon their jobs, clothes or other factors that tell us nothing about who or what they are.

Written January 8, 1990

“Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love.” Claude Monet

 

Title Photo by Pixabay

New Harmony 2

img_2900Retreat 

In May 2016 I felt the need to “get away” to somewhere peaceful and tranquil and I found that place in New Harmony, IN. It wasn’t so much getting away from anything, because my home with two lazy cats is pretty quiet and happy. It was more going TO someplace different. 

The quaint little town of New Harmony is about 140 miles from where I live in Louisville, KY. See short history and slide show of photos here:  https://crookedcreek.live/2019/04/05/new-harmony/

Attractions

img_2894“Attractions” may not be a good word for all the beautiful things to see and do in New Harmony because it might conjure up thoughts of crowded venues. It was actually the quiet that I first noticed. There was little traffic and most people got around on silent golf carts. I rented one and toured about leisurely from one point of interest to the next. These sites included the Roofless Church, Barn Abbey, Artists’ Guild, Gallery of Contemporary Art, Working Men’s Institute Museum, the Atheneum, and more. There was plenty to see on foot as well, walking among the historic businesses and residences. Gardens and trees surrounded everything and even covered the spaces between the sidewalks and streets. 

Meditation

Adding to the serenity of New Harmony were quiet gardens, a labyrinth, a maze and sculptures by various artists. Nature always nourishes my soul, but I found these prepared spaces enriching as well. 

 

Lodging and Food

At the time I visited there were several Bed & Breakfasts in operation. I stayed at the New Harmony Resort Inn and Conference Center which was clean and quiet. There were several dining establishments to choose from. I enjoyed eating at the Red Geranium which had a breakfast buffet.   

Nature

For me, the best part of my stay was the time I spent on hiking trails. They were scattered throughout the area, some wooded and remote, others by the Wabash River or the lake on the Conference Center grounds. 

 

New Harmony, IN

I recommend it for anyone who likes quiet, loves nature and wants to briefly experience a different way of life.    

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“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature.                                                   It will never fail you.”  Frank Lloyd Wright

Tintern Abbey

Wales’ Best-Preserved Abbey

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Tintern Abbey was founded in 1131 by Walter Fitz Richard of Clare, an Anglo-Norman lord. This community of buildings where monks once lived and worshiped had one of the most advanced drainage systems of its time, however, there was only one room where there was a fire for the residents to warm up or dry their clothes. There was an infirmary on the grounds and many early carvings. Traces of medieval glass can still be seen in the imposing windows.

After suppression by Henry VIII, the Abbey changed from its religious purpose to crowded cottages and an early industrial complex. 

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Wales

I loved the drive through the countryside in Wales. There were sheep scattered all about the hills presenting the peace that only such a pastoral scene can provide. There were signs to “Mind the Sheep” because in certain areas the animals were allowed to graze along the roadsides. 

Another interesting thing that I noted while in Wales was that signs were in both English and Welsh languages. All the maps and brochures that I saw in Wales were equally bi-lingual. While just about all citizens speak English on a daily basis, the government claims that 24% of the population over age three can speak Welsh, the official language of Wales. This makes this Celtic language the only official language of the United Kingdom other than English. 

I would love to return to Wales one day. 

 

Scenes from Russia

Matryoshka  (Stacking) Dolls

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White Nights

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Peter the Great’s Bridge and Smolny Cathedral  (during white nights)

Beginning in May and lasting into July it never gets completely dark in St. Petersburg due to its geographical location as the Northern most city in the world. This period of time is referred to as “White Nights.” It was an eerie feeling and messed with my circadian rhythm. This was not the biggest deterrent to sleep, however. Never have I see such big and persistent mosquitos. They buzzed loudly and got in my face belligerently each evening in the hotel. They seemed partial to the face and hands for their nightly feast. I counted 20 bites on one hand and 10 on the other as well as enough on my face to look like I had chicken pox! 

Goodwill Games

The Goodwill Games were started in Moscow in 1986 by Ted Turner as a response to political difficulties surrounding the Olympic Games at the time. While I was in St. Petersburg the country was hosting the games for the second time. It was exciting to see the enthusiasm the games inspired and I knew the city was presenting its best face for the onslaught of tourists.
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Hotel

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The hotel I stayed in was the Rusky as I recall. It had a lot of marble, but not the beautiful expensive type that I was used to seeing working in the magnificent Humana headquarters in Louisville, KY. This marble was lifeless and the rooms were little more than one would expect in a hostel or at camp. Although clean the beds were cots, the bathroom’s plumbing was exposed and the mosquitos had free access to guests. 

This view outside the back of the hotel is more representative of what the city was like in 1994.fullsizeoutput_1695

Cemetery

Cemeteries are one of my favorite sites to visit. Those in Russia were certainly not a disappointment. By tradition, they are divided into three sections. There is a section reserved for Communists, usually signified by the hammer and sickle. fullsizeoutput_169d

There is a section for those involved in the Arts and another for regular people. 

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Tombstone of a “regular” person

Things We Take for Granted 

This I saved for last. One thing that we take for granted here in the US and in much of the world, I suppose, is toilet paper. We load our grocery carts with no thought to what life would be without this commodity. In Russia in 1994 that was not the case. Many public restrooms had no T.P. at all. Others had attendants who presented you with a couple of squares as an allotment as you enter. Some places had a sheet torn from books (see the example from “church” below.) Here is the collection that I preserved:fullsizeoutput_16b0

Part 6 of 6

Note: Thank you to Lula Reynolds for giving us a break from St. Petersburg and sharing her visit to Moscow (2012) in the last post. 

 

Theme graphic in title by Pixabay

 

Moscow, Russia

Welcome Guest Writer: Lula Reynolds traveled to Russia 18 years after my trip to St. Petersburg. She has graciously shared the post below about the city of Moscow. Thank you Lula! 

My one-day visit to Moscow in 2012 was interesting but left me with lots of questions.  I had visited Communist China so knew a little about what to expect.  However, Moscow was different from China and even from St. Petersburg.  In St. Petersburg, the people and guides were open and friendly and were willing to answer our questions.  The museums were beautiful and ornate. 

For our trip to Moscow, we could go by plane or high-speed train.  We chose the 4-hour train trip to see some of the countryside.  As we rode farther away from St. Petersburg, there were fewer buildings and those that we saw were very small, almost like huts, and crowded together in villages.  We were told that these were country homes.  The landscape reminded me of the movie, Dr. Zhivago, without the snow. 

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Moscow Metro by Pixabay

When we arrived in Moscow, we were introduced to our guide, a lady probably in her 50’s, dressed much like what I thought of as a typical Russian. Our first experience was a ride through the city to a Metro train station where we rode the subway for a short distance. The station was spotlessly clean and was exquisitely decorated with sculptures, chandeliers, mosaics and marble walls and ceilings.  It was a work of art, leaving us to wonder if all the stations were like this or if this was their showpiece. 

Kremlin tower
Kremlin Tower by Pixabay

Our tour for the day included a visit to the Kremlin and Red Square. Our guide kept a swift pace and throughout the day a couple of men would appear to walk beside her and check off her schedule. She kept us in tight control, asking us often not to wander from the group. At one point a couple wanted to stop at a restroom they spotted but she said no, that a restroom break was scheduled later.  When we were allowed to ask questions, she would not answer political questions. 

I had always thought of the Kremlin as government buildings. We were not able to tour the government portion of the Kremlin, which is an old fortress and the seat of the President.  The part of the Kremlin we visited was the Armory Chamber which was a museum of Russian history.  It was beautiful and very crowded and we were guided through to see the armor, coronation dresses, jewelry, golden carriages, and Faberge eggs.  There was much use of jewels and gold in these items. 

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Museum: Gallery of Painting by Pixabay

We had been told not to touch anything, lean against anything or take pictures.   Near the wall in several places were older ladies (with their purses on their arms) seated in chairs.  If someone accidentally touched or leaned against a wall, they would come over and remind us not to touch.   

Our guide walked swiftly all day. She was off the bus and on her way before the last person exited the bus.  At one point when we were going up some stairs to a restaurant for a Russian dinner (beef Stroganoff), one of the tourists remarked that she walked so fast that we couldn’t keep up. Her response was, “Russian women are tough.” 

The Kremlin included Cathedral Square, surrounded by 3 cathedrals. Important Russian ceremonies take place in the beautiful gardens.

Red Square has been the place of numerous historical and political events in the life of Russia.  As we walked in Red Square there were many people hustling about, young and old.  We noticed that the police or military would not make eye contact. 

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GUM Department Store by Pixabay

Red Square is made up of the Kremlin, the Lenin Mausoleum, the Church of St. Basil the Blessed, the State History Museum and GUM, the largest department store in Russia. 

We were given an opportunity to wander shortly in the department store which is like a mall. The shops looked very similar to US shops and were brightly decorated. 

Our day in Moscow was packed with sights, but I came away feeling very confined and not really learning a lot of information about the people and its culture.  I admired the exquisite and lavish beauty of the museums and churches but left wondering what daily life is like for the people in Moscow. 

Scenes from Moscow and title graphic by Pixabay

 

 

Part 5 of 6

 

St. Petersburg, Russia

Russia

Language

The Russian language is very difficult. I worked for months before the trip to learn as many words as possible. I listened to tapes (yes, cassettes) and gradually learned approximately 100 Russian words. Today after all those years, I remember about three or four: “No”, “Goodbye”, and “Thank You” for sure. Often when the people heard a visitor say a few words of Russian they then assumed that you spoke the language.  That could create problems without enough words to explain. 

                         Alphabet:fullsizeoutput_1688

Currency

The currency when I was in Russia was very weak.  A ruble was worth less than 1/10 of a penny. Each day would begin by standing in line at a money exchange kiosk. 

St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad)

Transportation 

There were few private autos in Russia during the 1990’s, but there were trolleys, buses, subways and a few taxis. Public transportation was dependable, but very crowded, especially the buses which were cheapest. Commuters were jammed tightly together but never looked one another in the eye.

The Metro (subway) was one-third mile underground. The escalators were efficient in transporting passengers to and from the trains. The trains ran at 100 MPH and were clean and safe. The interpreter I was with said that pick-pocket thieves were on the lookout for tourists, but I experienced no problems nor suspicions.

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The Arts

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The Hermitage

The Hermitage is one of the world’s most premier museums. It is filled with priceless art and at the time I visited it had no temperature or humidity control for protection of these precious pieces.

Patrons were asked to remove our shoes and use soft slippers provided to reduce noise. We were allowed to walk around with few to no guards or docents to prevent damage to the irreplaceable works of art. 

Music and dance are adored in Russia and I was fortunate to be able to enjoy both while in St. Petersburg.

The ballet Swan Lake was performed in a historic theater by a newly formed dance company which now performs all over the world. The theater was grand, but showed signs of age and lack of maintenance as evidenced by the restroom picture below. 

I also had an opportunity to attend a folk music show with traditional dance, costumes, and instruments. It was the first time I had seen or heard the three-stringed instrument called a balalaika. 

 

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Photo by Pixabay

Part 3 of 6

Theme graphic in title by Pixabay