Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Terrors At Sea

"Raft of the Meduse, 1819, Theodore Gericault, Musee du Louvre, Paris"

Bob the Builder and I will be flying into Copenhagen in just a few weeks to catch a cruise ship which will take us through the Scandinavian countries.

We will be making pit stops at Stockholm, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Estonia, Poland ( both of these places are countries in case anyone out there is as geographically challenged as I am) and finally, Oslo.

My dad's parents, Jacob and Sophie Johnson, were from Norway.

My mom's dad, Erik Sampson, was from Stockholm.

So you can see that I have an abundant amount of Scandinavian blood running through my gorgeous veins.

My dad, at this writing, is still alive and kicking at the tender age of nearly 92. He is excited that we are going across the pond to check out the "old country" and the national homes of his parents and father-in-law (whom he never knew).

I was thrilled about all this myself until last week.

That's when I started to get wet feet.

I hate water.

I mean it.

I really hate water.

If I could figure out a way to get a thorough body cleansing everyday without using so much as a molecule of water, I would do it.

Sadly, it ain't happened yet.

And here's another thing: I get motion sickness every day when Bob and I are out touring the neighborhood on our morning walk.

Ok, I'll admit it, that was a bold face lie.

But not by much.

I spent many a childhood car trip sitting nervously in the backseat with my sisters until the inevitable happened.

Dad would quickly slam on the brakes, Mom then sympathetically opened the door and I stumbled out to "toss my cookies" all over the shoulder of whatever road we were on at the moment.

Just last week, the Bobster decided to take "a short cut" through the backwoods and the backroads to our destination of choice - a distance of about 45 minutes from our house.

I got to "enjoy" approximately 16 million hair pin twists and turns as he happily rolled down the road.

The 5,000 hill climbs and valley dips definitely finished off my battered tummy contents.

Needless to say, as soon as we reached our childrens' house, I staggered into my daughter's kitchen and begged for an emergency fix of "Wheat Thins" to settle my sickly stomach.

So there you have it.

My track record with motion sickness has not been stellar.

So why, then, am I willingly signing myself up for another round of this sort of "fun" - this time on WATER of all things!

I can see it all unfolding now:

I will be sitting inside a giantic shoe box (for all intents and purposes) while the floating rectangle bounces and weaves in and around a big, fat pile of WATER.

Here's the thing:

All of this sounded like a really good idea one year ago when Bob and I were sitting around the hearth one lazy evening chatting.

I said to him, "Honey, let's do Norway!"

Now that it's nearly time to lay ourselves at the mercy of our ship's captain, I am not quite so sure I want to go through with it.

I know what a lot of you out there are probably thinking:

"Don't worry, cruise ships are BIG. They are fitted with BIG, WIDE stabilizers so your ship is not going to rock like a baby's cradle on the water."


"Just go and get the motion patch, you crazy idiot."

Ok, I'll worship at the feet of your wisdom for a minute.

Maybe - just maybe - all of you seasoned ship travelers are as right as rain.

But just in case you are not.......

I gotta say that I am looking forward to barfing in the Baltic.

Monday, May 17, 2010

About "The Madgalen Reading" by Rogier van der Weyden, Part One

I am delighted to celebrate the inauguration of my blog with some personal observations about Rogier van der Weyden's "The Magdalene Reading."

Initially, I ran across a reproduction of this painting in a large frame warehouse several years ago.

Mary was hiding between two cardboard protectors in a rack of unframed art prints just waiting for me to discover her.

I immediately gasped when I did.

What was it about this Northern Renaissance Mary that drew me to her?

It certainly was not the quality of the print itself.

Mary's dress was tattered and torn in several places.
The once brightly hued colors of her gown and face had long ago succumbed to the distresses of light contamination.

As with all of us mortals, Mary had grown tired and more than a little weary over time.

For me, none of this mattered.

I stood in the racks staring at her entrancing image for several minutes.

Then I looked at the clock on the wall.

The frame shop was about to close its doors for the day.

I had a decision to make.

I could decide to place this Magdalene safely back between her cardboard protectors for future admirers to examine or. . . . . . .

I could decide to purchase her for the grand sum of $18.

Minutes later, I carefully laid Mary on the back seat of my car.

Fragile as she was, Rogier's Mary had captured my heart.

Where would she lead me from that moment on?

Credits: The image is from ArtRenewal.org at Magdalen Reading.