February 29, 2008

NPG - Vanity Fair Photographs & Shutting Up Shop

Cindy, Lucrecia and I spent HOURS admiring every photograph and reading every detail in the Vanity Fair Photographs exhibit in the National Portrait Gallery. From the NPG website, I included the photo "Legends of Hollywood" by Annie Leibovitz as well as a photo of Gloria Swanson by Edward Steichen. What I didn't realise was that Vanity Fair was published 1913-1936, had a 50 year hiatus, and was published again starting 1983.

I was fascinated with the "Shutting Up Shop" exhibit. John Londei started taking pictures of small, independent, "anachronistic" (e.g., button makers, contraceptives, cobblers) shops and their proprietors across the UK from 1972 - 1987. When John returned in 2004, only 7 out of 60 were still in business.

February 27, 2008

KCWC Middle-Eastern Cooking Demonstration

Koko demonstrated how to prepare three middle-eastern specialties: Artichoke Salad with broad beans and dill, Freikeh (grain) with chicken and nuts, and Mahalabi pudding dessert. She often showed how something would be done traditionally, then offered up an easier technique or substitution. Koko used some unusual pans but did not know where we could find them in London. But, she had several suggestions on where to find all of the ingredients. These recipes were challenging and the more proficient cooks in the audience were asking lots of questions. I thought all of the dishes were delicious and everything but the desserts (very rich and sweet) were very healthy.

In addition to lunch, we were provided with mint tea and many sweets. I commented to the "Magic of the East" activity leaders Susan and Mona that all of their events have generous amounts of food. They said that people in the middle-east show love with food and that generosity is highly valued. As for generosity, I learned ALL of the proceeds from this event were being donated to KCWC charities and a charity chosen by Koko.

February 25, 2008

Tate Britain - The Camden Town Group and Peter Doig

My Tate membership was expiring soon, so Cindy and I went for a double feature at the Tate Britain: Modern Painters - The Camden Town Group and Peter Doig. I downloaded some pictures from the Tate website.

The Camden Town Group formed in 1911 and was comprised of the artists Walter Sickert, Charles Ginner, Harold Gilman, Robert Bevan, and Spencer Gore. These painters departed from Edwardian protocol and selected subjects from working-class life. We had never heard of this group but loved their paintings - we spent hours at this exhibit.

The Peter Doig exhibit was a bit disappointing. The paintings on paper (as in the museum guide or books) were actually more appealing than in real life. I did not hate this exhibit but I wanted to be back with the Camden Town Group.

February 20, 2008

Gatton Park with the Women's Institute and National Garden Scheme

Glenyce (between Cindy on left and another WI member to right) invited us on an outing to Gatton Park. This gave me first hand exposure to two veritable British Institutions - the Women's Institute and The National Gardens Scheme.

The Women's Institute (WI) has 205,000 members in England, Wales and the Islands. This makes it the largest voluntary women's organisation in the UK. Although originally based in rural areas, the WI is starting to gain popularity among urban and younger women. Glenyce and her friends in the WI enjoy outdoor activities from rambles through the countryside to garden strolls. The gardens in Gatton Park are not often open to the public (usually 1st Sunday of the month) but today they were open as part of the National Garden Scheme (NGS).

Since 1927, the NGS has raised about £30 million per year largely through admission fees charged to visit one of their 3500 (many private) gardens opened on special days. We paid a nominal fee of £3.50 to view the gardens in Gatton Park, knowing these fees would support the gardens in Gatton Park, other gardens and a number of cancer / hospice charities.

We carpooled from Esher to Reigate to visit these gardens designed by "Capability Brown" for the Colman family during the early 20th century. On 250 acres, I thought they looked lovely with snowdrops, heather, daffodils and other spring flowers I could not name. But the Gatton Park supporters say they need significant funding to restore these gardens to their former glory.

We ate lunch in the former manor home, although much of Gatton Hall was destroyed in a fire in 1934. Postcards showed how impressive the main hall was before the fire. I enjoyed the postcard of ice skaters, the women dressed in knee or mid length skirts with no apparent leg coverings. Gatton Park is now home to the Royal Alexandra and Albert School as well as the lovely St Andrew's Church.
When we returned to Esher, Glenyce entertained us with scones and tea in her conservatory overlooking her beautiful garden and a golf course. Country living is a bit more peaceful than frenetic London.

February 10, 2008

Henry Moore at Kew

Ardis wanted to see the Henry Moore exhibit and spring flowers at Kew Gardens. The Henry Moore foundation has loaned Kew Gardens 28 of its large-scale sculptures until end of March. The Foundation has been generous in that Kew only had to pay transportation and installation costs. As much as I enjoyed the Chihuly exhibit, I find the Henry Moore sculputures a much better fit. I wish the foundation would loan at least 5 of the sculptures (NOT the white one) on a more permanent basis. The building below houses an exhibit that provides information about Henry Moore's life and art. He drew inspiration from bones dug up from his farm in Perry Green, just outside London. Highly recommended!

February 05, 2008

Democrats Abroad

Democrats could vote in the 2008 primary in many countries around the world by joining the organisation "Democrats Abroad". We are sending 22 Delegates each with 1/2 vote = 11 delegates to the Denver convention. I signed up many new Democrats Abroad members so they could vote in the primary held in Porchester Hall in London. Unfortunately, Barack picked up 3 pledged delegates to Hillary's 1. My friend Cindy got me an interview on NBC but it was not shown. I did get filmed by CNN and I heard myself on TV saying "We are running out of name tags". After a dinner of a couple of Hillary cookies, I went home at least satisfied that I had done my civic duty by voting and signing up many democrats who will hopefully vote democrat in November.

February 01, 2008

Fox Mange - Horrible!!!

Banjo picked up a bad case of fox mange mites (sarcoptes scabiei) which attacked his nose and ears. We apply Advantix monthly which is good for ticks but not for mange. We had to wait 3 days to apply Advocate which is good for fox mange mites but not for ticks because we had just applied Advantix. Both Advocate and Advantix are manufactured by Bayer. Bayer confirmed there will be an adverse reaction between Advantix and Advocate, so there has to be at least a 3 day period between applications. Meanwhile, Banjo scratched himself bloody.

Once we applied the Advocate, the mites seem to perish immediately. My neighbor Dace put on the Buster / Elizabethan collar which Banjo wore for weeks. I hid his antibiotics and steroids in sardines and wet Marks and Spencer dog food. The vet eventually pulled off the quarter-inch high scabs off Banjo's nose. His groomer is gradually removing the ear scabs which feel like pebbles. Banjo is back to his perky and perfect self now, except we are not sure if the fur on his nose will ever grow back.