Sunday, April 26, 2015

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

I had the opportunity to see a play at Playhouse in the Park in Cincinnati this afternoon. The play is entitled Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike by Christopher Durang. It is a comedy set in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and takes place over the course of two days.
There are six characters in the play. Vanya and Sonia live in their parents' house in Bucks County. They are both depressed and really haven't gotten out much since the death of their parents. Their sister Masha is an aging actress who has starred in several B movies that have made her a lot of money but not the kind of higher recognition as a serious actress that she believes she deserves. Spike is Masha's latest "boy toy" who tags along with her on her trip to visit her brother and sister. The cast is rounded out by Cassandra, a bit of a stereotype character who is Vanya and Sonia's house keeper and speaks in a Creole accent and practices her own form of Voodoo. Finally, Nina is a young girl who is visiting with relatives who live near Vanya and Sonia.
The play is both really funny and a study in family dysfunction. Vanya and Sonia have made passive aggressiveness into an art form. Sonya is about herself and is over dramatic in everything. Sonya pays the mortgage and all of the living expenses for Vanya and Sonia and during this visit, Masha announces that she wants to sell the house because the upkeep is too expensive.
There are some really funny moments. The play deals with family dysfunction, depression, aging, generational gaps and the challenges of a changing world. There are also some wonderful monologues in which the characters get into some really deep issues as they struggle with how their lives have unfolded compared with how they always imagined their lives would be.
I laughed a lot. The acting was good. The characters grew on me as the play unfolded. Overall, it was an enjoyable evening. I'm glad I got to see it.
Thanks for being a part of my journey!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Union Terminal Lecture Series

I've been attending a lecture series at the Cincinnati Museum Center Union Terminal. It incorporates everything that I have - architecture, design and history. I am grateful that my friend Roslyn agreed to attend the series along with me.
The first week we learned about the design and construction of Union Terminal. It was truly a marvel of engineering and design. Located on a flood plain, the entire site was raised by hauling in thousands of rail cars of fill dirt. This design proved to be effective in 1937 when most of Cincinnati was flooded. The lower levels of the station were flooded but the main part of the station was above the flood waters.
What surprised me what how long that it took to actually build the train station. Cincinnati was home to seven different railroad companies and they started discussions about building a union terminal back in the late 1800's. However, the current Union Terminal did not begin construction until 1928. The ironic thing about this is that by this time passenger train travel was already beginning to decline. While the train station saw increased use during World War II, the post-war economic boom allowing more people to buy cars and the development of the interstate highway system, Union Terminal began a steady decline in use.
It is in many ways a miracle that the building was saved from the wrecking ball. It's beautiful Art Deco design is a true gem of Cincinnati. Every time I enter the main rotunda, I am filled with awe. The bright colors, the Art Deco motifs and the iconic half dome design are absolutely amazing.
The second lecture focused on all of the amenities included in the building's original design. It was truly a city within a city. The building included a men's lounge complete with a barber shop and showers. The women's lounge had changing rooms and bathtubs. There were clothing stores, a newsstand, a toy store and three different restaurants. The design also included a newsreel theater that seated over 100 people.
I am looking forward to next week's lecture will focus on the Art Deco design. I am really looking forward to this. This has been a wonderful opportunity to once again appreciate the architectural heritage of my adopted home town.
Thanks for being a part of my journey!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Soaking Up Some Culture

It turned about to be a beautiful day here in Cincinnati. The temperature was a bit brisk but the sun came out and it was a glorious day. I saw a lot of people walking, running, and biking. It's like we have wrestled our way out of our winter cocoons to feel the sun fall upon our faces. While they say we might get more snow later this week, it feels like spring is on its way.
I went to church this morning and then had lunch at one of my favorite restaurants. It's attached to a bookstore so that's a bonus. I go and browse the store for a bit and then have a bite.
Then, in celebration of the warmer weather, I decided to spend some time at the Cincinnati Art Museum. It was a wonderful time.
I first made my way through a special exhibition of eighteenth century French drawings. They were amazing. Many of the drawings depicted either Biblical stories or Greek mythology. I was amazed at what these artists were able to do with chalk and paper. I particularly was taken by the ways in which they used rendering techniques to show light and shadow. The featured artist of the exhibit is Francois Boucher. Above is one of his drawings entitled Adoration of the Magi.

After the French art, I decided to check out a special exhibit on Modernist jewelry. I don't really care about jewelry, but I love design and these were some amazing pieces. The featured artist for this exhibit is Art Smith. He is known for this creatively designed jewelry that expressed minimalism and celebrated the machine age. Much of a his jewelry looked like mobiles. I don't know how practical these things were to wear. They looked really heavy. A photo of one of his necklaces is above.
I then went to take a bit of a respite in the Rookwood Pottery area and discovered that they were getting ready for a brief lecture and concert. The subject of the lecture focused on a sculpture of the Hindu god Shiva. After that, two musicians played some Indian music on the sitar and drums. The lecture was interesting and the music was good. Although, I must admit, that Eastern music sounds strange to my ear. I'm not sure why. I think it has something to do with the tonal scale they use. Overall, I enjoyed the afternoon.
I then came home and couldn't miss taking advantage of the beautiful day. So, I went for a walk. It was great to get out and moving and enjoy the sunshine. It was brisk but not too bad. The best part of my walk was when I was greeted by a basset hound named Fred whose owner was out walking with him. He always waddles over to me and likes me to scratch his head which I always oblige. Fred definitely seemed to be enjoying the day. He was sniffing everything with excitement as the slobber ran out of his mouth.
I am grateful for the gift of this day. This is the day the Lord has made. I did my best to rejoice and be glad in it. Worship, good food, amazing art, an informative lecture, music, a walk and a slobbery basset hound. Life doesn't get much better than all of that.
Thanks for being a part of my journey!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Polar Vortex - Round 2

I don't usually mind winter. I grew up in lake-effect snow country. I lived through the blizzard of '78. I used to love sledding when I was growing up. I remember building snow forts and even going cross-country skiing a few times. I remember with great fondness winter retreats with my church youth group.
So, I don't know if I am getting old or the weather is getting old to me. I know we are still in January. I know that weather like this is a regular thing in Canada and northern parts of the United States. For whatever reason, I am ready for this to end.
I will be really grateful when this current polar vortex makes way back to the Arctic Circle and stays there. I feel like the cold weather is zapping all of the energy from me. It seems to take so much more effort just to leave my apartment. I felt like I was breathing in razor blades this morning when I had to take the time in -10 degree weather to scrape my car windows. Thankfully my car is small and it doesn't take long to scrape.
My Bishop wrote an e-devotional titled "In the Bleak Midwinter". I went back and read the lyrics to this hymn, and the first verse seems to sum up our current weather conditions:

In the bleak midwinter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter,
Long ago.

I find myself thinking about spring a lot. I find myself thinking wishing for temperatures in the 30's which will seem like a heat wave. It's supposed to get up to near 50 degrees this weekend here in Cincinnati. I thought about breaking out my bathing suit and trying to get a tan. However, I think it's supposed to rain.
Even in my hope for spring and warmer temperatures, I do think that I can learn things from this bleak midwinter. I can give thanks for a safe warm apartment in which to live. Many of our Habitat Partner Families so not have this. I can also thank God for my new car that has run well and gotten me safely to and from work during this winter season so far. Also, I can be grateful to my God Who present and faithful no matter what the temperature is.
I hope you are find meaning and experiencing God's presence in this bleak midwinter.
Thanks for being a part of my journey!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

So, It's Been a While . . .

So, it's been a while since my last blog post. This is mainly due to the fact that my laptop computer died and my desktop is so ancient that it struggles to go on the Internet. I have been grateful for my new Kindle Fire HD and the ability it gives me to check my email, do some basic Internet surfing, and (of course) play Words with Friends. I was also able to finish out the season of Advent and my daily photo postings via my phone.
A lot of stuff has happened since my last post. In fact, so much that a lot of it feels like ancient history. Here's the Reader's Digest version:

  • had a wonderful time with my family the weekend before Christmas.
  • went to see "A Klingon Christmas Carol" which was done all in the Klingon language. It was awesome!
  • did the Chinese buffet once again with my family on Christmas Eve.
  • spent some time in my home town of Mishawaka, Indiana visiting with friends. It was a great trip and it was so good to reconnect with people.
  • had an extended vacation period in which I traveled, slept in, ate too much food, and hardly thought about work.
  • spent New Year's Eve at my sister Stacey and brother-in-law Rob's home. We played games and rang in the new year.
  • went to see "The Book of Mormon" as a part of the Broadway Cincinnati series. I may be a bit of a prude, but I found it pretty offensive. I think I get irony. I understand that this was written by the creators of South Park. However, I think the story could have been presented in a much better way. The acting, dancing, and singing were excellent. The performances were the best of the season so far. The play itself was not my cup of tea. I'm looking forward to Evita in February.
  • I got to see my nephew Cameron play in his first Upward basketball game of the season.
  • survived the first "polar vortex" and am bracing for round two this week. Monday night and Tuesday look like they will be brutal.
  • am looking forward to spending the weekend with my friend Ian in a few weeks. He's coming with my friend and his wife Sheri. Sheri will be scrap booking at my sister Stacey's house. Ian and I are going to do tourist things. I'm not yet sure what yet.
  • the weather has really slowed down our Habitat construction projects. It's been a weird time of snow days and a lot of rescheduling.
I'm sure I'm leaving out something, but I think these are the main points. I hope you have been well and are enjoying the new year.
I am grateful for a new year and a chance to hit the reset button and move forward in new directions. Thanks for being a part of my journey!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Advent Photo-a-Day: Day 16: STRONG

Above is a photo of a bulletin board at the Habitat for Humanity office where I work. The photos on the board are of our Habitat Partner Families. These families exude strength as the seek decent homes for their families. Every time I see these photos, I am reminded of their strength, courage and determination.

I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. - Joshua 1:9

Thanks for being a part of my journey!
 #rethinkchurch #rethinkchristmas

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Advent Photo-a-Day: Day 15: REJOICE

This is a photo of the entrance to my church I took this morning as I attended worship.

I rejoiced with those who said to me, "Let us go to the house of the Lord." - Psalm 122:1

Thanks for being a part of my journey!

#rethinkchurch #rethinkchristmas