February 15, 2016: A Presidents’ Day To Remember

Thomas Jefferson quotesThe 2016 Presidential Election may very well be a turning point in American history. Many pundits and journalists are opining that it could even usher in a fundamental transformation of the political landscape, the likes of which we have never seen.

As the candidates travel from one state to another, carrying with them their bag of political goods and ideas, they are met by an increasingly disappointed, disenfranchised and even angry people, contributing to an already fiercely charged atmosphere that can be felt across the entire nation. Read more

The Magic of a Winter Evening Sky

“Always without formulating the concept, I had based my sense of being in the world partly on an unreasoned conviction that certain areas of the earth’s surface contained more magic than others.”  –From Without Stopping by Paul Bowles (composer and author, 1910-1999)
NYC Reservoir Central Park
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, Central Park, New York City; 2016
“For I dipped into the future, far as human eye could see, saw the vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be.” –From “Locksley Hall” by Alfred Lord Tennyson (English poet, 1809-1892)
Sunset quotes
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, Central Park, New York City; 2016
“The most beautiful gift of nature is that it gives one pleasure to look around and try to comprehend what we see.” –Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
Ohio River Sunset
Ohio River, PA; 2016

Once Upon a Time…

ac perch tea room Long ago and far away, in the ancient city of Copenhagen – the land of fairy tales as imagined by Hans Christian Anderson – lived a man named Niels Brock Perch who opened a tiny little tea shop in the very old part of the city called “Christianshavn”, where ships from exotic places like China, Ceylon, India, Japan and Africa would arrive with goods to be traded and sold.

A man with great vision for opportunities that sailed into port, Mr. Perch couldn’t have known when he opened A.C. Perch’s in 1835 at Kronprinsensgade 5 that it would still be a purveyor of tea – from some of the finest plantations and gardens around the world – 180 years later. Read more

Galloping into Enlightenment: “Napoleon: A Life” by Andrew Roberts

best napoleon biographyFor a pleasurable holiday read, Andrew Roberts biography, Napoleon: A Life (2014), is a 810-page gift to be enjoyed for the fascinating and easily accessible history lesson about the “founder of modern France and one of the great conquerors of history.”

Considered the definitive biography of the soldier-statesman who once said, “What a novel my life has been,” it has received numerous awards, such as Winner of the Grand Prix of the Foundation Napoleon, and was listed as a New York Times Notable Book and included in Amazon’s “100 Biographies and Memoirs to Read in a Lifetime” list. Read more

Stepping into Beauty

life and times isabella stewart gardner“If you invest in beauty it will be with you all the days of your life.” –Frank Lloyd Wright, American architect, designer and writer, 1867-1959

Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840-1925) was a woman whose life fully embodied the above quote from Frank Lloyd Wright – and a visit to her museum in Boston allows one to experience all of the beauty that she collected during her travels around the world.

From master paintings, sculptures and tapestries, to objects such as Napoleon’s letters, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is even more striking during the holiday season, with hundreds of vibrant red amaryllis beautifully poised in the courtyard that seem to speak to Mrs. Gardner’s exuberance for life. Read more

Talking Points for 1995

Wifi JokeAmong the charming allure of “The Elephant House” coffee shop in Edinburgh, Scotland – known as the “Birthplace of Harry Potter” – is this refreshingly simple sign that encourages us to put down our phones, close our laptops, remove our headphones and…TALK!

If we were to “pretend it’s 1995”, here are a few “talking points”:

1995 New York Times Top Fiction Books (in no particular order):

Five Days in Paris by Danille Steel

The Lost World by Michael Crichton

Silent Night by Mary Higgins Clark

The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans

The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan

Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher

Beach Music by Pat Conroy

The Children’s Book of Virtures by William J. Bennett Read more

Light and Dark: Maxfield Parrish and James Nachtwey

james nachtwey photography“There has always been war,” says James Nachtwey, a multi-award winning photojournalist. “War is raging throughout the world at the present moment. And there is little reason to believe that war will cease to exist in the future. As man has become increasingly civilized, his means of destroying his fellow man have become ever more efficient, cruel and devastating.”

He continues: “Is it possible to put an end to a form of human behavior which has existed throughout history by means of photography? The proportions of that notion seem ridiculously out of balance. Yet, that very idea has motivated me.” 

James Nachtwey, born in 1948, has spent a lifetime documenting historical events around the world through photography, as seen in the exhibit, “Witness to History: James Nachtwey—Afghanistan, Ground Zero, Iraq“, currently on display at the Currier Gallery of Art in New Hampshire. Read more

Plumping Up for Winter in Maine at Duck Fat

Duckfat Restaurant Portland MaineIf you are a lover of quality food and are curious about what the latest trends in the culinary world are, a visit to the small city of Portland, Maine provides an enticing glimpse.

Portland has a uniquely strong farm-to-table movement and is considered the epicenter for the concept on the East Coast.  It has been nationally recognized as a “hub of innovative cuisine,” and referred to as a “gastro-tourism paradise.”

For years, talented chefs such as Sam Hayward of Fore Street Grill (opened 1996 and designated as a Top 50 Restaurant in the U.S. by Gourmet Magazine in 2001 and 2006), have been making their way north from Boston and New York City to Portland where they find a wealth of resources from farmers, fishermen, and artisans that provide for year round seasonal cooking and a more welcoming (i.e. less cut-throat) and supportive environment. Read more