After years of Taliban control, music is now allowed in Afghanistan and the TV station Tolo is holding a contest to see who will be the next Afghan Star. The final competition comes down to a diverse group of contestants (including women) and the public is responsible for determining who will be the next big winner. Everyone - male, female, rich, poor, Hazara, Pashtun - can submit their vote democratically via text message on their mobile phones. There are print campaigns, large donations, and private supporters who try to influence the outcome. Unfortunately, my first choice candidate did not win, but this documentary will remind you that Afghanistan is more than a battleground, a statistic, or a political debate. It is a country full of people with hopes, dreams, and aspirations.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Today Eric, his daughter, and I went to the Holocaust Museum. It's been open for a while but I have neglected going, in part because I was afraid it would be too disturbing. While there are moments when you hold your breath inside one of the rail cars, smelling the cedar, and not being able to comprehend what it must have been like standing there with a group of people on your way to a concentration camp, overall the exhibit was a celebration of those people who lived and suffered, some surviving and others not.
There is a three-story enclave filled with photographs of people in happier moments and a lower wall dedicated to non-Jews who risked their lives to help others emigrate or hide during the war. When you first enter the museum you are given an Identification Card, a small booklet with the story of a real person who lived during the Holocaust. Each card is different and the transaction immediately makes the visit more personal. Here is Sophie's story:
Name: Sophie Weisz
Date of Birth: February 23, 1927
Place of Birth: Valea-lui-Minhai, Romania
Sophie was born to a prosperous Jewish family in a village near the Hungarian border known for its winemaking and carriage wheel industries. The village had many Jewish merchants. Her father owned a lumber yard. Sophie loved to dance in the large living room of their home as her older sister, Agnes, played the piano.
1933-39: My father believed in a Jewish homeland and sent money to Palestine to plant trees and establish settlements there. When I was 10, I was sent to a school in nearby Ordea because our village had only elementary schools. I missed my family, but studied hard, and swam and ice skated for fun. Though we heard about the roundups of Jews after the Germans invaded Poland in 1939, we felt safe in Romania.
1940-44: Hungary annexed our region in 1940; by mid-1941 they'd joined the German forces. We were forced into the Ordea ghetto in May 1944, and then deported to Auschwitz. In August my mother, sister, and I were moved hundreds of miles north to Stuffhof on the Baltic coast for forced labor. The prisoners were asked to entertain the German soldiers at Christmas; I danced to the music of the ballet Coppelia in a costume fashioned from guaze and paper. I earned extra food for this, and shared it with my sister Agnes.
Sophie and her sister escaped while on a forced march in February 1945. Her mother and father perished in the camps. In February 1949 Sophie emigrated to the United States.
100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, SW
Washington, DC 20024
Within walking distance of the orange line's Smithsonian stop. For more stories, click on the personal histories link above.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
We are home now after driving practically non-stop through Florida, Georgia, the two Carolinas, and Virginia. Here's my summary of Florida's Lake Okeechobee area: violent thunder storms, intense blue water and sky, and a bright hot sun. It's a world of rich fertile farm land and Walmart, surrounded by slow easy conversation about alligators, wild boar, and rattlesnakes. I'm glad to have made the visit.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Monday, August 16, 2010
Sunday, August 15, 2010
We left WDC/VA late Friday night and travelled south down I95 through North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, arriving in Florida on Saturday. We are in Orlando now and are leaving tomorrow morning to go look at our Westsail in Moore Haven. If this boat turns out not to be our Clementine, we have an appointment to see another boat this Wednesday in Fort Pierce (also a 28). The pic on the left is of our hotel room balcony, the one in the middle is us after a good steak dinner in the hip part of town, and the one on the right was taken along side Lake Eola.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
I'm a little ahead of myself but have been looking at which typefaces we can use for our boat's name. She will be Clementine, a name we chose based on the adventurous spirit of the wild west. Built in the 1970s, the Westsail 28 is a "design in efficiency ... stout enough to handle anything and beautiful enough to turn the head of even the most hardened sailor." The boat is meant to travel offshore and long distance. Which typeface suits her best?
Oberon, an enhanced 1970s typeface. A little too ornate for my taste but authentic enough to the period of the boat and, while it suggests unruliness, Clementine retains a little bit of elegance.
Jezebel, based on type from the 1970s. Clementine looks a little wide and rough around the edges but perhaps this typeface is well suited to a sturdy old boat with a long history.
Studio Sable is retro in feel but still modern in attitude. Clementine is smooth, happy, and a little bouncy like waves but is it the 1970s I'm feeling or a little bit of the late 1950s?
Which typeface do you like best? Please help us out while we make this big decision. Alternative typefaces welcome! thank you!
Monday, August 9, 2010
My friend Mona, a graphic designer in India, is branching out and starting to create her own cards which will soon be available in America. (We have plans to meet during my layover in London this fall if she and I are in the same place at the same time.) This card is based on a painting Mona made of traditional Indian patterns that are mostly used in block printing for fabrics. More of her designs can be found here.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Thank you to Evil Pixie who tagged me on my very first blog award. It's a pretty little cupcake thing and here are the rules: talk about three things I love about myself, and then pass the award on to bloggers I love.
1. Following Pixie's lead, who loves the fact that she's tall, I love the fact that I'm short. I enjoy the surprise some people get when they discover I'm not weak or timid just because I'm small. I'm strong, independent, and not afraid to speak up.
2. I love the fact that I am not your average American. I don't carry debt (other than my house). I am not religious and I'm worldly enough to know that Muslims and immigrants are not the enemy of our society.
3. I love the fact that I'm visually inclined. I appreciate interesting photography, thoughtful design, and well-written passages. Putting all of this together gives me great pleasure and I'm fortunate enough to have the skill set to make it happen.
4. I'm on a roll. Last night, when I discovered that Evil Pixie had tagged me, I thought about all of the things I love about my world externally but not about the things I love intrinsically to myself. I was stunned to realize that this might be a difficult exercise so one more is in order. I love the fact that I'm open to people and things outside the norm, that different doesn't scare me enough to walk away. More on this later and in future posts. :-)
And now I pass this award on to Shining Lotus, who has had a difficult year and has shown she has a lot to love about her awesome self.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
It's been a busy summer and it looks like the next six months are going to keep up the pace (insha'allah). My little nieces left WDC last Sunday and are now back in Cairo. My Facebook status line said it all:
"Leslie went to the airport: gave up her shoes, agreed to be the Christmas mule, and promised to read a whole series of books. Ah, the power of kids! Much stronger than the power of cheese!"
And, as Maya and Asia will tell you, I have a huge appreciation for cheese. Asia is now wearing my black flip flops and I'm wearing her gold ones. I have signed up for Santa duty this fall (i.e., the carrying back and forth of Christmas gifts) and I am currently reading the first book in the Children of the Lamp series (quite well written for a YA novel).
In January, Eric and I are going back to Mexico for ten days. This is a repeat of the trip we took last March but had to cut short due to the massive snow storm that delayed our flight out. My sister was generous enough to give both of us plane tickets for my big birthday and we have booked a room at the same B&B since it's lovely and the two guys running it are easy going and dependable.
But, first, Eric and I are going to Florida week after next to take a look at this boat! The couple who own it are now working in the Alaskan canneries and have decided they want to sell their sailboat and buy a fishing boat in its place. It's going to be a long drive down I95, but I'm looking forward to the adventure that will follow.