By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel
When thinking about famed American artist Georgia O’Keeffe, people recall her best-known works of enlarged flowers, New York City skyscrapers and the landscapes of New Mexico where she spent the remaining years of her life. Aptly referred to as the “Mother of American Modernism,” O’Keeffe also did stunning works of the Hawaiian Islands.
In its current exhibit, which runs through October 28, 2018, The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) will feature lush floral tributes in the Garden’s Enid A. Haupt Conservatory evoking the gardens and landscapes that inspired O’Keeffe, as well as the complex story of the flora and unique ecology of Hawaii. The exhibition will also feature 20 of O’Keeffe’s depictions of Hawaii, including paintings not seen together since their 1940 New York debut. Visitors of all ages will learn about Hawaii through complementary events and programs, including a scholarly symposium, an original short film, a film series, and the Interactive Mobile Guide.
What prompted O’Keeffe to travel to Hawaii? In 1938 an ad agency asked her to create two paintings for a pineapple company that is now the Dole Food Company for use in their advertising. She was 51 at the time and critics seemed to be less enchanted with her New Mexico desert paintings. O’Keeffe spent nine weeks visiting the islands and she completed 20 paintings.
At the NYBG exhibit, there will be plantings designed by Francisca Coelho and set pieces designed by Tony award-winning scenic designer Scott Pask. The exhibition also introduces visitors to the profound importance of plants in Hawaiian culture and growing concerns about threats to native Hawaiian plants. Long borders of colorful tropical garden plants such as those Georgia O’Keeffe encountered and painted while in Hawaii include Ti plant, frangipani, bougainvillea, heliconia, hibiscus, bird-of-paradise, ginger, and many more tropical favorites.
Beyond the borders, planting beds arranged around an open sided, thatched roof pavilion inspired by a traditional Hawaiian tale, tell the story of canoe plants—the useful plants brought to the Islands more than 1,000 years ago by Polynesian settlers. Outside in the Conservatory Courtyards visitors will see a wide variety of Hawaiian plants in beautiful potted and ground-level trough displays. Pineapples and bananas, among other favorites, will be on view in the Central Courtyard, while hundreds of hibiscus, as well as gardenia and bougainvillea, will fill the Hardy Courtyard. Canoe plants and other edible and useful tropicals such as papaya and sugarcane will be on display in the Tropical Courtyard. The O’Keefe paintings will be on display in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library Art Gallery on the grounds.
The NYBG is located at Bronx River Parkway (Exit 7W) and Fordham Road.
For information about their programs, events and exhibits call 718 817-8700 or visit their website at: www.nybg.org
June 13, 2018 | admin
By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel
Summertime is when I get most of my “relaxation” reading done. Whether sitting on a lawn chair or beach blanket, there is nothing like opening a good book that has been waiting to be enjoyed. Ever since I was old enough to read, books have been an obsession with me, and now my collection has grown to fill five tall bookshelves with my favorites. When finished, the less popular ones have been passed on to friends or donated to our local library Even for those that are not so absorbed with reading now as adults, there are pieces of literature that were required for school reports that have made a lasting impact on us. Think of how many characters in classics or best sellers instantly create an impact when we simply hear the name of the lead character. In fact, these names have often become descriptive adjectives we use to describe a person’s habits or traits.
My all-time favorite novel and popular Christmas movie has to be The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. What do you think about when you hear the name Ebenezer Scrooge? Naturally it is someone who is absolutely frugal to the point of being a miser! So to be called “a real Scrooge,” is certainly not a compliment.
What about being called milk toast (milquetoast)? What does that conjure up in your memory? I’ve always thought of it as a passive, timid, shy person who can be dominated by others. This expression came from a character in a comic strip called The Timid Soul, back in the 1940s. The author, H. T. Webster, was an American cartoonist, and he created the character Caspar Milquetoast. Whether a person is labeled a “pushover” or “wimpy,” the word milquetoast has crept into our language to describe this uncomplimentary personality trait.
Not leaving the ladies out of the list of character traits, we’d have to include the word Pollyanna. In 1913 Eleanor H. Porter wrote a children’s book called Pollyanna about a young orphan girl. No matter what went on in the child’s life she was always happy, optimistic, and overly sweet, even during the worst of situations she was enduring. Hence, if someone is called a Pollyanna, it basically means nothing ruffles his or her feathers or is not sadly impacted by any negative or tragic turn of events. While it sounds as if it comes across as a compliment, this handle might also relate to the fact the person is not impacted in the typical way by the situation at hand.
June 6, 2018 | admin
By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel
Way down to almost the tip of New Jersey sits a beautiful, historic town called Cape May. This quaint and charming community is filled with Victorian-styled homes, bed and breakfast inns, and hosts an array of activities sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts (MAC). A visit to Cape May is a wonderful way to “step back in time” by going on tours, browsing the shops, attending lectures and workshops, and participating in events that help make you a part of their heritage and culture. MAC is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of Cape May’s Victorian heritage. Year-round, fantastic programs provide something for every age and interest. This delightful village is geared to guests who enjoy historic architecture, old world charm and relaxing by the seaside. Plus, their summer 2018 calendar of events is fantastic!
There is the 1870 Emlen Physick Estate tour that offers a glimpse of days gone by. For foodies, Cape May hosts events such as the Chocolate Lovers Feast and Tasting, dinners, wine tastings and dining in charming inns. Sign up for a Murder Mystery Dinner for dining with a twist of entertainment. Don’t forget to stop by the Carriage House Museum Shop at the Physick Estate at 1048 Washington Street. There you will find everything you need to relax in style, whether with a warm and fragrant cup of tea or by baking a fresh batch of scones with special mixes, perfect with a dollop of clotted cream. Teapots, cups, Harney’s Teas, accessories and more, plus jewelry, books and wonderful things for giving or keeping will catch your eye while shopping.
A Designer Show House features the best works of famed designers where guests will be awed and inspired by the creativity of the furnishings. Then be sure to catch the lighthouse tour at the Cape May Point State Park, and take a ride on the local trolley. For an extra bit of fun, catch the Ghosts of the Lighthouse trolley tour or the Lighthouse Full Moon Climb. Speaking of ghosts, there is a Ghosts of Cape May trolley tour that is also a lot of fun. Once you are at the lighthouse, stop at their Museum Gift Shop before leaving where you’ll find a seaside treasure of nautical, lighthouse, pirate and nature inspired gifts and art, as well as apparel, books and toys. The list is endless on things to do once you have arrived. There are jazz brunches, a Cape May Wine Trail tour, crafts & collectibles fairs, Armed Forces Day recognitions and gallery exhibits, in addition to scores of children’s activities. Once you are in Cape May, relax on their beautiful beaches, too.
Visit www.capemaymac.org for information on the coming season’s events and to make your travel dates accordingly. For more information, call 609-884-5404 or 800-275-4278.
May 30, 2018 | admin
By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel
One summer many years ago my husband’s cousin visited us from Germany. She was single at the time and her visit would entail staying with our three young children and us. Seeing what it was like living with three active children during school recess was a new experience for her. Cousin Ilse spoke fluent English and it was a pleasure having her visit.
One hot summer day we planned to go to the beach and told the children we’d leave when they finished breakfast, picked up their toys and got dressed. Packing lunch and keeping after them as they dawdled was a bit chaotic. When the children were being silly and not listening to my instructions, I turned to Ilse and said, “They are going bananas because they are excited about the beach.” Ilse looked puzzled and asked, “What do you mean about bananas?”
American idioms often make no sense to people in other countries. She got such a kick out of my explanation that to this day she uses the expression herself. During our phone calls she will answer my question about her job with, “It is so busy and we go bananas every day trying to finish all the projects.” She loves that phrase and probably would enjoy these other frequently used idioms about food as well.
Spill the Beans
This term is often used in old gangster movies when they describe someone who is divulging the plans as “spilling the beans.” In other words — to give out information that should be secret. Recently I watched a series on TV starring Dustin Hoffman regarding the life of the Italian Medici family. In one scene, the ruling members of the court voted on an issue using different colored beans, white for yes and black for no. Each member put in one bean, the container was shaken, and then the contents were poured out. The yes and no votes were counted to see what the judgment on the issue would be. Hence, “spill the beans” means to divulge the answer. This practice was said to have started in ancient Greece with the votes being counted after they spilled from an urn.
Cup of Tea
Have you ever invited a friend to go to a movie of a certain genre (i.e., science fiction) and the person replied, “No thank you. It’s not my cup of tea”? Or asked a person if they’ve ever been on a cruise and heard the reply “not my cup of tea”? The English love their cup of tea and that’s where the term originated. Back in Edwardian times, the slang term “cup of tea” meant something pleasant and agreeable, as a nice cup of hot tea is relaxing and soothing. To reverse the meaning for something you don’t like, the phrase “not my cup of tea” became popular. This explanation was written by famed journalist Alistair Cooke in his 1944 Letter from America. You might remember Mr. Cooke as the distinguished, original host of Masterpiece Theatre.
May 23, 2018 | admin
By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel
A while back a poll was taken and teenagers were asked what really makes them happy. The answers were surprising because it was not the newest cell phone, big TV or a first car. The teens overwhelming said what makes them happy is spending time with their parents.
Connecting with your teenage child does not come overnight. It has to be done gradually and begin when your child is a toddler, then continue through grade school and high school. With the busy lifestyle most parents lead, it sometimes becomes overwhelming to go to work, care for homes, and then find quality time to spend with family members. The rewards for spending time with your children are immeasurable and can be fun, filled with love, and create a strong lifetime foundation that will never be broken. Naturally, when your children are small, most of the time spent with them is as a caregiver. As they grow older the activities, trips and adventures can be rewarding for both parent and child. Summer and holiday recesses are perfect for spending time together.
When the weekend comes, many families look for activities that are mutually enjoyable for all family members. These trips may include educational themes with visits to museums, aquariums, zoos, or historical sites. They can be tied to the child’s school studies and/or connected to a parent’s interest or hobby. A friend of mine loves all things Early American, particularly those with a colonial twist. She and her young daughter enjoy visiting historic designated homes, especially those connected with tours and special events. Some of the homes have holiday tours or arts-and-crafts sessions that demonstrate how Early American settlers lived and cared for their homes. After these tours were over, mom and daughter tried their hands at these crafts at home. They have made candles, soap, paper, their own brooms, and peeled apples with an old-time apple-peeling device and dried the skins for Christmas tree décor. Check out craft stores to find kits that your children might enjoy working on with you.
As was discovered in the youth happiness poll, most important to teens is spending time with their parents. Complicated crafts or intricate cooking recipes do not have to be the only way to spend time together. Walks in the park, bike riding, bowling, tennis, or a trip to the mall and going out for lunch provide bonding time as well. Playing cards, pulling out a board game, or watching a movie together can be even nicer on a quiet rainy day at home. The important thing for both parent and child is to spend the time together building a bond. This will make it easy to talk to one another and know that whenever there is a problem or question, mom or dad is always there to listen.
Wouldn’t that make you happy, too?
May 16, 2018 | admin
By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel
How well do we take care of ourselves? This may seem like a simple question, but most of our time is usually spent taking care of someone or something else. The topic concerning personal health issues was the subject of a seminar I attended for improving and maintaining good health.
What does being healthy really mean? A simple definition is feeling 100% good, 100% of the time. Feeling good should include your mental, physical and emotional state. Can you find just one hour daily to do nothing but what you want to do? This could be reading a magazine, taking a walk, soaking in a tub, or just plain resting on a lawn chair doing absolutely NOTHING. Why do we feel almost guilty when we waste time doing these relaxing things? Most people neglect taking time for themselves for use as a de-stress mechanism, something we all need now and then.
The lecturer talked about water, nutrients, and posture — elements that make up the factors important for maintaining a healthy body. When asked how much water we should drink each day; his response was the following formula. “Take your body weight and divide it in half. This halved number should reflect the ounces of water you should drink each day.” He suggested drinking your water about an hour before your meals rather than with them. When you drink water with meals it neutralizes the body enzymes that are needed to break down your food and pass along the nutrients to the rest of your body. For this reason, he suggested not giving young children too much milk, juice, or water with meals — it also fills them up.
What about dieting? Does it work? The best method for losing weight is to eat everything in moderation. To start, cut back on carbohydrates, refined sugars and starches. Begin your day with fruit instead of sugar-laden sweets such as donuts, pastries or muffins. To cut back on extra calories when you are hungry between meals, try to have low fat snacks available. Pack a plastic baggie or container with trail mix or baby carrot pieces to munch. Be creative. Make your own trail mix out of your favorite ingredients using nuts, dried fruit, whole wheat cereal, etc.
Have you checked your posture lately? Do you walk slumped over or sit at your desk in a manner that is doing harm to your back, neck and spine? If you want to see what your posture looks like, try this experiment. Walk slowly near a full-length mirror with your eyes closed. Once you are in front of the mirror, open your eyes. This way you will see what your posture looks like without changing it. If you are prone to back problems, avoid lifting, pulling or pushing items you cannot easily manage. Your back has to last you a lifetime, and doing damage to it because of improper use makes no sense.
May 9, 2018 | admin
By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel
For the most part, when we think back to our grade school days, history class entailed learning American and world history as well as relevant historical dates. Easy rhymes such as, “In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue” were instilled in us for easy recall of the discovery of America. I guess it worked, as now over five decades later I know this date. There are words or phrases in our language that are derived from historical beginnings. We use expressions and probably don’t even know their origins. Here are a few sayings with fascinating roots.
Of course, back in George Washington’s day there were no cameras, so the only way to capture a person’s image was through a painting or sculpture. Many pictures of President Washington showed him behind a desk with one arm behind his back, while others might have shown both his arms and legs. The reason for the way arms were either included or excluded was because painters in those days charged on the basis of how many limbs were to be painted — the more limbs showing, the greater the fee would be. That’s why the expression “cost an arm and a leg” is used when indicating that something is expensive. Limbs were more difficult to paint, so the artist charged more.
Another interesting art fact was explained to us many years ago when we toured an art museum with our then freshman college student/daughter who had just completed an art studies class. As we looked at huge floor to ceiling paintings of a royal and a full court of lords and ladies, there was usually a couple depicted off to one side. Our daughter explained, “In those days the wealthy patron of the arts would commission a painting of the current ruler and court and then ask the artist to discretely include him and his wife, and perhaps their child in the painting.” Even if the couple were not court members, by paying the artist an extra sum, they were instantly a part of royal history for their new masterpiece.
Long before the telegraph, radios, phones and television, people had to communicate the old fashioned way — in person. Even early politicians had to find ways to determine what the public and their community were thinking, especially before an upcoming election. Accordingly, they had their workers or assistants visit the public in local taverns and pubs to find out what we call today “the pulse of the people.” These workers were told to “go sip some ale and listen to what the people had to say and also pay attention to their political concerns.” Some were told to “go sip here” or “now you go sip there,” and the two began to slur together to form the word “gossip.” So that’s how we got the word to define sharing information about others.
May 2, 2018 | admin