The Suitcase Lady

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Treats

October 27, 2020, 9:31 pm

Here’s an alert for all the chocolate lovers who are reading this. A new Mecca for chocolate has recently opened, and a flight to Zurich, Switzerland might be in order.

The makers of Lindt candy have created the Lindt Home of Chocolate. The museum is located beside Lake Zurich and is adjacent to the venerable, old factories that have produced treats since 1845.

I became aware of this happy development via an architectural site. The new museum is a stunning and sophisticated design by the Swiss architectural studio, Christ and Gantenbein. The bulk of the building is red brick to echo the historic factory. However, the curved entrance is white glazed brick and creates a welcoming public space.

The interior is both playful and elegant. In the architects’ words, “The chocolate is implicitly celebrated with round shapes, a soft touch, and maybe even a general sweetness.”

The focal point of the atrium is the world’s largest chocolate fountain. It’s nine meters tall and topped with a giant whisk.

The museum features many delectable experiences. There’s an interactive tour about “how cocoa conquered Europe” and the Swiss “chocolate pioneers”. Classes are offered in a Chocoloteria on making a wide array of sweets; truffles, pralines, florentines, chocolate lollipops and chocolate bars. Naturally, Lindt sells its wares in a store that it describes as “the biggest chocolate shop in the world.” And, finally, there is a chocolate cafe where both chocolate desserts and cocoas are served along with some less guilt-free savory bistro selections.

Most of us won’t be going to Switzerland in the near future, but we do have lots of candy occasions coming up. Grown-ups don’t need to go trick or treating, we can buy our own treats…..like a sack of assorted Lindt truffles. Happy Halloween!

 

 

 

 

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Anticipation

October 20, 2020, 6:59 pm

Imagine that you could live on a planet that revolved around the sun in ten days. Voila! Every ten days you would have a birthday with cake, presents, wine and birthday cards. The day of your birth would no longer be special if celebrated with such frequency.

As crazy as this sounds, our American way of celebrating holidays greatly resembles this pattern. The import is stolen from our special days as they are celebrated again and again for months in advance.

I faced this phenomenon head-on last Halloween. We have a tradition of eating little powdered sugar donuts on Trick or Treat night. Donuts were on my shopping list when I went to the grocery store a few days before Halloween. I located the donuts on the shelf only to discover that every brand had packaging covered with Santas and reindeer. Halloween hadn’t yet happened and I was staring at Christmas.

The stores would not be stocking Christmas cookies, donuts, candies and other holiday treats if customers weren’t buying them. When the holiday goodies are flowing and being consumed for months in advance, what can be special about the actual day of the holiday?

Christianity as well as other world religions preach the values of reflection, abstinence and anticipation. That’s what Lent and Advent are all about. Believers are not supposed to prepare themselves for the upcoming feast day by feasting for months in advance.

I had Advent calendars as a child and loved opening the little paper doors to see which picture would be revealed. After I was married, my husband told me that he had never had one when he was little. I since have bought him one every year. Last holiday season presented my biggest challenge. Every store where I searched for one only carried the calendars with a piece of candy behind every door. Since that seems like a total oxymoron to me, I had to get a mail-order calendar from Europe where candy-free Advent calendars still exist.

Consumption has triumphed over anticipation in America, and that is not helping our national happiness index one bit.

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Typeface

October 13, 2020, 9:14 am

I’m a lover of letters, i.e., typefaces and fonts. Serif, sans serif, bold, condensed, gothic, italic…letters display a stunning array of personalities.

I did not, however, think that a typeface could be the inspiration for a building design. But recently this has been done, and the result is a brilliant success.

The typeface in question was created by Lance Wyman for the 1968 Mexican Olympic Games. Called “Mexcellent”, it is based on forms from ancient Mexican culture as well as op art and kinetic designs.

In the late 1980’s, a graphic design firm in Amsterdam named Thonik decided to build their own studios rather than being eternal renters. The design and construction of the company’s headquarters ended up taking twelve years, and it’s facade and interiors are a giant homage to the Olympic typeface.

Nikki Gonnissen, one of the founders of the firm states, “We are big fans of the Mexico ’68 Games because it connected a massive audience to graphic culture.” Her partner, Thomas Widdershoven, further says, “We are amateurs in the sense that we are not professional architects, but we’re also amateurs in the sense that our heart and passion are in this project.”

That passion is evident in this joyful building, in essence, a typeface on steroids.

 

 

 

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Downsizing

October 6, 2020, 8:08 pm

Earlier this year, I spent a long weekend helping a good friend downsize her apartment. She wanted to prune her possessions in advance of a planned move, and she realized her accumulation of things was causing her worry, not enjoyment.

Paradoxically, just before I left on this mission, I ran across a wonderful quotation by Sarah Whiting, the dean of Harvard’s Graduate School of Design.

“Moving makes you conscious of many things. Not least among them is confronting the astounding number of things that you own and realizing that only a few are just right”.

I’ve only moved three times in my entire life. However, I think I could be certified as an experienced sifter and winnower. Being a firm believer in Mies van der Rohe’s famous mantra, “less is more”, I am an ongoing contributor to thrift stores. In addition, I have executed five of my family members’ estates. That task entails the ultimate downsizing.

Sorting out and finding the proper homes for a relative’s lifetime accumulation of earthly possessions is a challenging experience which is highly charged with emotion. There’s mountains of stuff, and only the most meaningful items can be saved. Tough decisions must be made. And it is slow going. When a pack of saved letters is found, for example, it’s instinctual to stop sorting and start reading.

When I look around our house now, I realize I am living in a storybook.  I have the best of what we have gathered in 56 years of marriage plus the best of our inherited possessions. And our house is not a museum. We use my grandmother’s dishes and wine glasses, my mother-in-law’s big blue mixing bowl, my parent’s 76 year-old, pig-shaped cutting board and countless other items that are infused with happy recollections.

The downsizing weekend went well. I made many, many trips to my friend’s favorite charity thrift store with the rental car stuffed every time. And my friend shared her family stories with me as various objects brought floods of memories. When we were finished, we had professional cleaners come in to do a deep cleaning.

My friend has decided a move will not be necessary. Her space is no longer overwhelming…it is a joy.

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Georgia

September 29, 2020, 9:12 pm

The song Rainy Night in Georgia was playing on Radio Swiss Jazz as we were eating dinner last week. That piece always brings out my sentimental and romantic side. Then a thought struck me. I get all misty-eyed about Georgia On My Mind as well. Ditto for Midnight Train to Georgia. And suddenly I realized there is an entire Georgia genre of music.

This realization led to a bit of research, and I found a playlist with over fifty versions of songs with the word “Georgia” in the title. Some were about the state, some were about a girl named Georgia and some were ambivalent.

Since I have been a fan of the Georgia genre all my life without realizing it, I thought it was high time to pick out my favorite versions of my favorite Georgia songs. Here are the results: my ultimate Georgia concert.

All my blogs are written to be about a minute long…but I only promised that the words would take a minute. I didn’t say anything about music.

P.S. I double dare any other state in the union to come up with a playlist comparable to this one.

Click on the links below for a wonderful concert and please forgive the YouTube ads.

Ray Charles – Georgia on My Mind
Gladys Knight & The Pips – Midnight Train To Georgia
Conway Twitty ft. Sam Moore – Rainy Night In Georgia
Jim Croce – Walkin’ back to Georgia
The Charlie Daniels Band – The Devil Went Down to Georgia
Ella Fitzgerald & Duke Ellington orch. – Sweet Georgia Brown

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