Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas in DC

We drove around town early this morning and passed out vodka and newports to the homeless. Just like Eric says, we ain't trying to save anyone; we just want to make a few guys feel a little bit better on Christmas Day. This is in Dupont Circle (technically not Adams Morgan as the tag suggests, but close enough). We also went to the New York Ave Shelter and over to Franklin Square. Happy Christmas from us to you!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Like Water For Chocolate (1989)

Like Water for Chocolate is Laura Esquivel's highly-acclaimed novel about two lovers who are unable to acknowledge their relationship in public. The title refers to Tita's boiling point, both in terms of anger and sexual tension.

Tita, the main character, is free only in the kitchen, a place where she can express herself through the preparation and serving of food. Esquivel's narrative goes into very little descriptive detail and is driven primarily by a wide range of emotion: love, desire, jealousy, hatred, and fear. Culturally, the story explores the Mexican tradition where the youngest daughter is expected to stay unmarried in order to take care of her mother into old age. In the end, while I appreciated Esquivel's dose of magic realism, I couldn't get past the strained family relations.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Marie Antoinette

Although criticized by many as being a superficial film lacking in historical reference and plot, Sofia Coppola's interpretation of the Marie Antoinette story is pure delight. I found the two-hour experience mesmerizing and much more satisfying than those other fashion film attempts out there. And, yes, while "Marie Antoinette" is a bit light, it can be instructional if you take a closer look.

For example, take Coppola's use of Versailles. She gives us wide camera shots of the palace's exterior and close up views of well-proportioned rooms filled with architectural detail, beautiful flowers, sparkling chandeliers, and amazing furniture.

She shows us 18th-century excess complete with the ridiculous dressing ceremony, the royal lack of privacy, and the preponderance of gossip and intrigue. We are entertained with masquerade balls, home-made theater productions, and gambling parties. Coppola even makes reference to the menagerie of zoo animals kept on palace grounds.

The best part, of course, are the award-winning dresses designed by Milena Canonero. According to Jenn, a blogger with a well-organized site dedicated to costume design, the film is highly stylized "in regards to the [brighter] palette ... but the overall silhouette is spot-on and the basic cut of the costumes (if not the trim and accessories) is very period." "Marie Antoinette," in other words, is both exquisite and educational with short little insights into architecture, social history, and fashion design. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

November 9, 1931

Dearest Kat,

Rave on darling! I often follow any train of thought when writing to you, but you know I'm crazy so I don't even bother to apologize.

I'm writing you instead of grading my kids and fixing report cards as I should.

Don't guess I'll get to Tenn. Thanksgiving. I'd sell my soul for the money to get there but nobody wants my soul at that price. Seems to be a very bad one - cause $60 or $75 ain't much money for a soul in good shape. Guess I'll petrify around here, Thanksgiving.

Keep right on writing the things we use to say. I miss spilling my wild ideas, blues, downheartedness and what have you that I usually burdened you with. I spill some of 'em to Lyman cause he's got more wild ideas that I have and isn't the least shocked and tries to talk me out of half of 'em. But he can't understand as you do. Nobody could.

Yes, Lyman is quite the Earle Parsons build, tho' I'd never have thought of the comparison. He isn't my big moment, tho I have to keep yanking myself up to be sure. I like him lots - but you see with him I'm a gesture of defiance aimed at the girl he's in love with desperately, and she goes with him but isn't in love. She's full of ambition and he's a stepping stone and a good thing to use in the up-climb. The first part I deduced (old detective!) and the last someone told me. I don't know whether all of it's exactly true but at least part of it is. I don't know her very well but well enough for that, so using anyone to make him jealous would be wasted energy. I'm merely the best-looking and newest woman in the vicinity to amuse himself with during the week. (no conceit, just facts. 'cause the rest of 'em are 40!) There's another male that I date occassionally but we hold wrestling matches, his idea of what a woman is good for is a hot petting party and I have strong views in the opposite direction. Presto - a fight! Haven't heard from Bull again. Hope so cause it made me very happy to know he still thought of me after a long time.

I want Santa to bring me things useful, hose, pants, or just most anything. What do you crave - personal gift or gift for the house? Let me know and I may be able to buy somethin' providin' they pay us. Our checks were three days late last time because State aid was lacking and I don't know what will happen the rest of the year.

I repeat with emphasis and a few added frills all I said about teaching. I don't like it. And already I'm looking forward to May 27, 1932. That's Friday the day report cards are given out for the last time. Reckon I can live until then? I've lost 10 lbs the first 2 months - at that rate I'll be skinny some day - O, yeah!

Well, I'll quit and pass out some bad grades to the brats.

Love, 'Cile

Blog note: Lucile is writing from Citronelle, Alabama.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

September 12, 1931

Dearest Kat,

Well, my deah, I'm certainly glad you are enjoying life. I'm parked here doing nothing and losing my weak mind. Talked to Mr. Vigor yesterday and I may possibly teach the 5th grade in Citronelle, Ala. It's not a promise, but we even discussed salary. Hope he calls me this afternoon or tomorrow to go. I'd even prefer that to petrifying here - and twiddling my thumbs seven days a week - 4 wks per mo. for nine months.

If I get a job I'm extravagantly planning on coming to Tennessee Thanksgiving. Some more castles in Spain - but I'm inviting myself to your house for a day and night if I do. Have planned me a hectic time if I come - have promised Evelyn to be in Nashville for a big time. That will take up the other day and night I have there.

Nell is rushing around packing, and sewing and hunting clothes - it seems funny for me not to be doing it. I'm kinder glad I don't have to return to Peabody, tho' my disposition would be ruined for life if I had to live thru another year of that.

You know, old top, I've always promised to let you know when I got ready to take the fatal leap - and if it's possible you're to be present - oh, I'll talk to you before 'cause I don't expect to stay here indefinitely or not ever to visit there and heavens knows when I'll ever fall in love and get married - if ever.

You camly demand that I make out menus for you - I've not near as much time as you think. I've run around interviewing people every since I got here and going down town everyday is a life-sized job but here is a recipe for you of something that is good to eat.

12 pears, 3 oranges, 3 lemons
grind in food chopper
measure and add 1-1/2 less cups of sugar than mixture measures - cook until tender.

It's so good. I'm gaining pounds eating the junk between meals. Mrs. Burgitt, next door, calls it pear relish but Nell and I inelegantly call it "goo."

I thought the wedding was beautiful. I could see J. shaking too, and I got the giggles and wanted to cry too. Happy and I took off at 10:30 and got back to school at 12 - stopping to eat lunch and get some cider. I evidently passed the history exam cause I graduated Monday - no fault of mine. I haven't cracked the text for six wks. and didn't study for the exam. But I slung words around until I didn't know what I was talking about. Wonder if Mr. Driver knew?

Really I'm gripped about rushing down here - unless I get employed. Mr. Grigg won't employ anyone he can't talk to so I came - but when I think of what fun I could have had in Gainesboro, Ashland City, C. & Mt. "Misery" & Tupelo, Miss. and if I get the job I'll go anyhow - so I guess I did right to come. My salary will be $960 and I don't think that will be half bad, with a raise next year and a chance to teach in Murphy Hi. Hope they aren't all castles in Spain.

I'll hush now - and if I find any good recipes I'll rush them of P.D.Q.

Heaps of love,

P.S. Found the enclosed menu in the morning paper and thought they might give you an idea. Mother says she's mailing the cook book.

Blog note: Katherine is now living in Ashland City with her husband, and Lucile has finished school in Nashville and is writing from Mobile, Alabama.