Category Archives: art

Green glasses.

I write about the uncommon aspects of common things. I write about gratitude and beauty. I write about awareness of the imperceptible in the cacophony of daily life. I write about how we change, and shift in our perceptions based upon experience – and by experience I mean wisdom earned.

Hannah sea glass

My girlfriend Hannah’s sea glass from Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

It is the creation, by hand, of something long lasting that inspires me most, and even the remnants of those long ago hand-crafted items which wash ashore as bits of sea glass, or are found in archeological digs (which sounds so much more impressive than rubbish tips or garbage dumps of our distant ancestors).  The shift I want to write about today is more than 30 years in the making (for myself).  Humankind has drunk from glass vessels for some 3500 years, the first known examples coming from ancient Mesopotamia – now Syria; let the sadness of the destruction of their civil war and ISIS and so forth spill forth just as wine spilt from a broken stem of your grandmothers.

20150311_140413

Waterford Tyrone

In my twenties, I aspired to own a suite of full lead, hand-cut crystal in a pattern called Tyrone from Waterford. My mother made it plain that no one in our family would purchase it for my wedding (though later she had to have their Lismore pattern), but my mother-in-law, Marcia, was of a different mindset. At the time, in the early 1980s, the stems were $31 – $33 and not only did my ex-husband and I receive some for wedding gifts but for Christmas and birthdays thereafter Marcia made sure this was my gift. Ultimately the cupboard held 6 each of Champagne flutes, red wines, and water goblets. I loved everything about them – including that they were special order only and had to wait at least six months for each to arrive. They are still gorgeous, and perfect, and have held some very memorable beverages and experiences.

On an entirely different end of the drinking vessel spectrum, I also love (Great) Depression Era 20150311_105805petroleum glass – the green. At a time when the world economy was reeling from the stock market crash, drought, and massive unemployment, and the global social malaise that would propel all of us into World War II, movie theatres (and others) in the United States of my parents youth gave out premiums in the form of this glassware – pitchers, cake plates, dishes, cups, vases and drinking glasses. I can’t recall when I first became aware of the glasses, though both grandmothers had cake plates with the sunflower (or daisy) embossed on them. But, about the same time as the Waterford was trickling into my consciousness and then my life so too, optic swirled green glasses. At less than a $1 a piece at estate sales and antique shops and with a history of 50+ years of service behind them I was enchanted – and they came home to be used, not just admired.  Yesterday morning I opened a box recently arrived from eBay with 11 of the largest of these I have ever acquired, and delighted would be an 20150311_110111understatement as with the shipping each hand-blown beauty cost less than $2.75. I washed them. I took a picture. I put them next to the other odd green glasses in the kitchen cupboard and truth be told I was RIDICULOUSLY happy. I discovered that the short ones hold the same volume as the Waterford Tyrone water goblets, at which point I did an online search and discovered that these now sell for $200 a piece which prompted my listing them on eBay. A Martini will taste just as lovely in the short versions of my new, very old, glasses as they did in my Waterford goblets. Wisdom doesn’t preclude an appreciation for the rare and exquisitely crafted, but it certainly embraces when it is time to let go and buy some good gin with the proceeds. 😉

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Can a grocery list be erotic?

My friend @KenHerron paid me a backhanded compliment about my writing yesterday. In an exchange about the timing of my publishing he wrote:

“I hope it’s not wrong to eat lunch while reading smut, as your posts always seem to pop up right about lunchtime!”.

And I thought about that because the latest blog posts aren’t erotic at all – at least I don’t view them as such. And responded,

“no smut. Ha. Think of them as dessert. Love you”

To which he replied:

“Oh please. You could write a shopping list, and it would be “smut”!   :)”

So as I made an emergency batch of double chocolate and walnut brownies (sans measuring cups, measuring spoons and no absolute knowledge of just how hot the oven actually is here in the apartment I am renting in Croatia) this morning I thought about attempting to make a grocery list erotic as a writing exercise. This is also for my girlfriend Deborah who affectionately refers to me as a “sexy cupcake”. So here goes (an over-the-top-list to support the most sublime evening of love-making imaginable, select site, add lover, some preparation required).

100 tea-lights, white soy and unscented, in glass votives

oyster plate2 bottles of Veuve Clicquot Grand Dame Champagne, Moroccan tea glassestea glasses for Champagne  

4 dozen, fresh Loch Fyne oysters and antique Majolica oyster plates

For Zabaglione:

1 dozen certified organic, free range, eggs (preferably brown, blue and green shelled)

1 kilo small mill, Fair Trade, organic cane sugar

1 liter of Marsala wine, from Sicily, bearing Denominazione di Origine Controllata designation

1 kilo each of fresh, organic, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and currants

Lady fingers

mimosaNight blooming jasmine, mimosa and peonies

Maybe it isn’t the grocery list itself as the possibilities such a list presents…

How did I do Ken? 😉

If you enjoy my blog please consider sending me the value of a cup of tea in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Heart of home – (any size) kitchen

20141127_151933Let’s be honest about how spoiled we are as Americans; our kitchens, whether we cook or not, are enormous by the standards known and embraced by the rest of the world.  We have stuff for nearly every task – even if we only do this task once a year for Thanksgiving.  My new friend Ellen, who came for homemade roasted chicken and dumpling soup a couple of days ago, gave up on ‘being American’ more than a decade ago, she moved to Croatia a year ago, recently moved to Split to be with her fiancé. Over lunch Ellen was trying to explain this dome-shaped electric oven thing she has to cook in which came with the flat of the man she is engaged to (which belonged to his parents before he occupied it and near as I can figure this “thing” must date to Tito’s rule over the former Yugoslavia). (Incredibly enough she managed to make an absolutely brilliant Thanksgiving meal from ‘this’ shown at left.)

On the flight from Washington to Munich The Lunchbox was amongst the offerings to be watched – and I was struck by the size of the ‘kitchen’ from which the heroine worked to create lunchboxIndian culinary magic.

I am currently living in a holiday flat. It is outfitted with flatware, dishes and glassware, a spatula – better used for the grill, a slotted spoon, two wooden spoons, one ice cube tray, two cutting boards, a grater, a ladle and a handful of knives – thankfully sharp – and some perfectly functional cookware. There is no Cuisinart, nor charming Hohner harmonica outfitted Chantal teakettle, no measuring cups and spoons, no antique pottery bowls nor German knives, and certainly not a four burner gas range with an oven large enough to roast a 25 pound turkey, with room left over for the chestnuts and Brussel sprouts, stuffing and sweet potatoes. But as someone who cooks – I am relearning how to without the convenience. While I thought to pack my lemon squeezer, and despite hauling more than 150 pounds of luggage with me, I neglected some rather practical considerations and my various girlfriends scattered across the United States responded to a dismay posted to my Facebook wall at neglecting to pack Demerara sugar, celery seeds, Miracle Whip, Coleman’s Dry Mustard with an offer to send these things. There are gorgeous cabbages everywhere and fresh fish – coleslaw is in my future! To Christina (Kiki) Kelley and Jan Wheeler I can’t thank you sufficiently – copies of the book I am supposed to be here writing will be yours once it’s published.

My landlords have given me license to their citrus trees – mandarins, limes, and LEMONS! So the prudence of packing my lemon squeeze has turned into glorious sunshine to drink.

DSCN9841 DSCN9843 DSCN9844 DSCN9849This morning I tackled a leek tart, as much like a quiche as I could make it without the “right pan”. What I had to work with were truly gorgeous eggs, (world famous) Pag cheese, a large leek, ground golden flax seed and Tibetan sea salt that I brought with me, some whole milk, butter and flour purchased in Trogir.  I found a medium size plastic bowl and an enameled pan with a handle in the cupboard, and my landlady let me borrow her rolling pin (mind you no waxed or parchment paper).  I had a leftover 500 gram yogurt container, this chart, and my eyes to guide the process. I managed to outdo myself. My friend Ken Herron maintains that I create food porn – this blog is the only way I can share with him, (sending you love Ken!).

You don’t have to be the Barefoot Contessa to make beautiful food. You need to carve out a space of time to provide nourishment that is authentic and close to the earth and the sea, you need desire and you need passion. Whether a neighbor is next door or thousands of miles away our world contracts or expands according to your beliefs and attitude. You go to places outside of your normal experience to live deliberately – like Thoreau.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

Henry David Thoreau

Namaste.

If you enjoy my blog please considering ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via Paypal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and do share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschi. To order my first book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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How Doctor Who made me see something, more

This post is for all those who wonder, doubt, and diminish the impact their lives have on the world (and I will own that is also me sometimes) but especially for those who are about to give up hope and who succumb to the pain that society thrusts upon the fragility of the creative.  In our world of ‘lowest common denominator’ it is truly time we stand firm and own our magnificence – no matter how uncomfortable it might be for ‘the others’.

A dear girlfriend, Jennifer Sertl, posted a video for some artists that she knows in the expanse of the world – both in person directly and through her vast, interconnected social media sphere to thank them, to encourage them, to shout out their presence to a larger audience that ‘follows her’.  Her message, and the video itself, were not directed toward me, but as I viewed it the importance of the pebble thrown into the pond rippling outward – in wonder and impact demanding to be shared.

Please watch this two minute video excerpt from the BBC’s long running Doctor Who. 

Irises by Vincent Van Gogh OSA409

Les Iris, 1889, Vincent Van Gogh

I have been reminded quite a few times recently that I ‘make a difference’ and that my gifts are considerable, I tend to discount some more rigorously than others but I am learning that in devaluing any portion of myself I diminish the whole of my being, and most importantly my integrity and what impact I might have (tiny, imperceptible though it might be). We are a flower garden, a bed of iris sharing nourishment, dependent upon conditions seemingly out of our control in which we thrive – or die.

If you only could pull a Doctor Who after your death; to return to the living for a few finite, spectacular moments if only to understand the lasting impact of your words, kindnesses, deeds and creativity. NEVER, EVER, give up on the fulfillment of your passions – with, or without, recompense. Root yourself in the soil, turn your face toward the sun, drink in life in all its glory, pain, and beauty and give that nourishment back in the impermanence which is common to all things.  Live with grace at your elbow gently guiding you (and sometimes violently pulling you) to create a masterpiece that is uniquely yours to give. Reside in mindfulness and passion, read (and perhaps write) poetry, create moments of magic for yourself and others.

“He transformed the pain of his tormented life into ecstatic beauty. Pain is easy to portray. To use your passion and pain to portray the ecstasy and joy and magnificence of our world…”

The words might be from the video clip as Vincent Van Gogh is being spoken of, but I believe it is the pain of our experiences which allow each of us to create beauty in our own very specific way. All too often we fail to see ourselves as others do. And so, when I watched this, twice, I cried tears of gratitude in exactly the same place in which Vincent is overwhelmed. I am so fortunate to be reminded on a regular basis that my presence in this world makes a difference to others.

Starry Night over the Rhone 1888

Starry Night over the Rhône, 1888, Vincent Van Gogh

Van Gogh didn’t cease to inspire, and not just those of us who have ever stood transfixed before one of his canvases.  In this homage, Don Mclean’s “Vincent” (Starry, Starry Night) – itself a masterpiece – is set against outtakes from the same episode of Doctor Who; the result is breathtaking.   So I am now telling you, each who might read this, you are important. You – yes, YOU – make a difference by your presence on Earth (and in the heavens) every single day.

I am conveying love and passing blessings over you for all that you do, for simply being, and encouraging you to go on despite your pain and the pain we witness around us to create ecstatic beauty. And I am thanking every single person who this week (and many other days and times throughout my life) who has made me see what you see about myself.
OX’s – Te.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and do share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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The ferment of genius in a broken world.

“Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.”
― Anaïs Nin

Flee

Photograph by Massimo Sestini, accompanying the Italian navy in rescue June 2014

According to (nearly) universally held scientific beliefs human beings have traversed the breath of the Earth for over 60,000 years. Migration is not a new phenomenon, neither, sadly, is the terror of being a refugee, but the epic proportions of displacement are all too familiar across the globe certainly are new.

Somalis in Ethiopia

Somalis in Ethiopia

There can be nothing more de-humanising than to have your community scattered, the traditions of your culture destroyed, to experience the brutality of violence directed toward you because of your geographic location (and the covetousness for what lies beneath your feet) or your faith. That we, who are all ‘of one’, could do this to another and not understand that we are doing this to ourselves (for eventually we always reap what we sow) is beyond my capacity to comprehend.  Being assigned refugee status and then being forced to live in an encampment with tens of thousands of others who likewise are forced to accept this fate and ‘live’ on the handouts of NGOs is beneath human dignity. And yet, according to the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, UNHCR, there are more than fifty (50) million people living this way. FIFTY MILLION PEOPLE living in tent cities and if you can read this from the comfort of a home, where water runs in your tap and flushes your toilet, where you can bathe, and cook, and sleep anytime you wish, a piece of you – in our common existence – is living this other life.

I believe in the ferment of genius.  That there are ideas floating all around us, destined to be pulled down because at a precise moment in time we see a problem and know with every fiber of our being that there is a solution to it that ‘we’ have been called upon by the universe to fix.  Goethe understood it too.

Destiny grants us our wishes, but in its own way, in order to give us something beyond our wishes.
                                                                                                     ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Because of her Lexus Design Award winning “Weaving a Home” project, I discovered the extraordinary work of Abeer Seikaly a couple of weeks ago. I have worked with artisans and Abeer_Seikaly_woven_tent_2craftspeople for more than a decade to find a way of taking their traditional skills and making them contemporary and commercially viable so, you can imagine how Seikaly’s efforts took my breath away. The conjunction of honoring the traditional housing of nomadic peoples everywhere, seeing in handwoven baskets a possibility for something more, and her training as an architect have created something truly innovative and worthy of the (all too often loosely assigned) appellation of genius.

In combination with “ovens made from old bath tubs” we might be able to fix some bathtub ovenpressing problems and build communities (and all the healing, dynamic energy which accompanies such) within refugee camps to restore a level of human dignity.

I have facilitated introduction between Ms. Seikaly and a friend of mine who is the CEO of Glen Raven (Sunbrella) fabrics.  I suggested that the integration of a rain collection and cooling system into the functionality of her design and they have now taken the conversation into the business development core of Glen Raven for direct conversations. I can’t know the outcome, but I see NO REASON why something couldn’t be developed for those living near salt water but within an arid environment to cope with increasingly demands on water resources. I am so very hopeful of something smart, and cost effective, will come of the connections I saw and acted upon.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Remains

dexterity

Grégoire Cachemaille Photography Mirror mirror on the wall 2013

Mirror mirror on the wall, 2013, Grégoire Cachemaille

chilling dispatch

what remains of sex

roué

flaccid vessel

mirrors your empty soul

 a thousand regrets

forsaken heart

my cup drains onto linen

If you enjoy my blog please share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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There will be light! An utterly incongruent story of six lamps.

As my dear friend Ken Herron said when I told him the story, “You can’t make this stuff up!” and while the following may provide evidence to the contrary I am not (as he said) a “crazy lamp lady”.

I will admit, I live on the edge of outright financial disaster, but surrounded by beauty (which makes up for a lot) and always in a state of gratitude. I have very little in terms of expectation, and I am ridiculously happy for my version of normal which for anyone else would likely bring about bleeding ulcers, nocturnal teeth grinding and require serious pharmaceuticals to abate sitting in the corner of the room rocking back and forth and drooling on myself.  I trace this ‘cause and effect’ back to the willful folly of a 17 or 18 year old me desiring something denied by my father who said no more times than not to me while rarely denying my brother a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g, and my intuitive sense of navigation to find a way around an ‘in trust for’ passbook bank account and to the desired financial assets. (Whereupon my father announced that he was “washing his hands of me” – c’est la vie.)  I recall years later my mother saying something sarcastic about the fact that I always buy myself what I want by way of explanation for not receiving anything for my birthday, yet again. Sigh. I learned self sufficiency (for need and want) in an environment of disproportion; I am unapologetic.

intentionThat expressed, nice things happen to me. Frequently. Specialness that you could only put at the threshold of a universe that demands equilibrium.  A universe where intention manifests, despite the totally illogical, circuitous path traveled and where I find myself with (undeserved?) abundance. This is a true story about such. About how I “shouldn’t have, but did” and how in the end it worked out better than any rational human being assigning risk management theories could predict or that common sense would dictate. This story is about the universe saying yes when it should have denied me, and didn’t. This is the utterly incongruous story of six lamps and the unexpected, but very happy ending on my path to reinvention and relocation.

In 1992 I bought a pair of antique Famille Verte Chinese covered urns with mud decorations and battle scenes with carved rosewood stands for $99 (inclusive) in a junk cum antique DSCN9916shop in Buffalo, NY’s Allentown district.  I then took them to renowned antique dealer Dana Tillou (I have also been a customer of his nephew Jeffrey) to ‘see what I had scored’ only to have Dana gently suggest that given their value (at the time about $1100) I not drill them and turn them into lamps; which of course is precisely why I bought them and what I did. Elmwood Lighting (now out of business) did the honors and with the custom ecru silk lampshades the bill came to $161 and change (I had the receipt until fairly recently) all in $260.

Fast forward to 2013.

When I decided to uproot my life (to at the time destination unknown) last year I decided that I would start selling off my possessions to make the move easier, and with a new life would come a complete redo of my living-room decoration.  So I listed them on eBay, they had a buyer, who turned out to be one of those eBayers that give the company a bad reputation with sellers, for the $260 I had ‘invested’ after enjoying them for 20 years.  Alas, she opened a case and claimed “not as represented” (and then as broken) and eBay in their wisdom offered her a complete refund because I had insurance on the two boxes even while she had not returned the lamps.  I filed a claim with USPS, asked her to make them available to an inspector, to return them and hoped for at least the $200. Months dragged on, but eventually USPS issued a check for the $200 and a couple weeks later the lamps came back – not a total loss but time and money would have to be spent to find a replacement carved rosewood base and have the repairs done.  Eventually these would happily sell a second time for the same $260; net gain was about $170. Another lamp uneventfully sold for $260 putting my cash flow in the $430 range.

Obviously if you are selling lamps there is still the need for lighting to see after dark.  And my longest, dearest held girlfriend Doris (an age peer of my parents) once had a pair of reticulated Blanc de Chine ginger jars that had been wired and sat on her mantle that I loved.  The man that ran her downsizing household sale was having an estate sale in my DSCN0001neighborhood and I managed to score a reticulated Blanc de Chine vase, the base already drilled, from him for $18 (picture at right). I found an antique hand carved Chinese wooden display stand that fit on eBay (actually, eventually, two) for $60 and had my lovely local lamp repair guy Brian handle the wiring for me – $79 (brass fittings and labor, tax).  I shipped the new lamp to NYC for a custom silk lampshade as no local business to my current home does such work at a cost of about $50. If you are doing the math along with me here that meant that I was still ‘up’ $233 after using my other lamps for roughly 20 years, not a bad ROI.

After massive grief and delays (three months) in having the custom turquoise blue silk pagoda lampshade made the lamp arrived back in one box and the lampshade in another – fully insured thank God – bill $640 (I know, I know, I am insane but I beg you not to look at me that way) for the lampshade and the shipping back. Technically speaking the whole gorgeous lamp with the shade came at an end cost $417.) BUT, the lamp base arrived back to me shattered! (argh), receipts forwarded to FedEx, more grief, partial refund requested, more dialogue, more emails, more receipts, waiver on claim, still broken lamp and an expensive lampshade and no lamp and then finally, nearly miraculously, a check arrives from FedEx – not a partial refund but a check that covered the shipping, the lampshade that wasn’t damaged, and the lamp – for $825 and some change!  Now the net cost of the new gorgeous lamp is actually nothing, and I have “made” $408 in the process.

Here’s where it gets even more interesting.  I was looking for a lamp finial for the Blanc de Chine vase lamp – so off to eBay and that’s where I found the dragon porcelain lamp (see the Pinterest story by clicking here, start at the bottom to see what it looked like on eBay) and finiala lamp finial ultimately paying $215 (including the shipping). Alas, it had a serious ugly lamp cap and an eBay source sold me a solid brass one that is PERFECT for $3. The accounting? Still ahead by $190!  The finial turned out to be really big (for either lamp) at 3” in diameter and a bunch of research turns out that it is actually an antique carved Mutton Fat (white) jade plaque from China (quite valuable) turned into a finial likely late 1800s so I listed it on eBay (more on this in a bit).

My lamp guy charged me $30 to rewire (what turned out to be gilt ormolu mounted) the porcelain lamp, and I am still ahead by $160. My 2nd new lamp now needs a lampshade.  DSCN9991There is no way I can justify another custom silk shade so I try the blue one on this lamp and decide it looks perfect but the Blanc de Chine, now devoid of its custom pagoda shade, needs one. Back online to do research for something “in stock” and I settle upon a black silk shade with gilt lining DSCN9999but I am not spending $89 plus shipping. So back to eBay where, to my utter amazement, I find the perfect size, brand new, unused, oval, black silk with gilt paper lining shade originally sold in a town that I lived in out on Long Island’s North Shore – and I auction snipe it (bidding at the 30 second mark before the auction ended) and score it for $19 (including the shipping)! It looks amazing and despite all the energy expended my two new lamps have a total cost of nothing and I have made $141!!!

That is not the end of this story. Remember the carved jade plaque as a lamp finial? I sold it on eBay for $800. (Not factoring in eBay and PayPal fees) the universe has netted me two breathtaking lamps and I wound up making $940 – which, if I am truthful, should have been used to pay my rent in the first place instead of messing around buying lamps and that is where the money eventually went.

Both lamps have “cousins” on the 1stDibs website – the Blanc de Chine at $2250 and the gilt mounted porcelain 19th century French oil lamp that had been converted at $3000. A 60 watt bare bulb would ‘do’ for reading and no one actually needs a pair of lamps worth $5200 but I do love how the universe conspires to let me live with beauty – which is exactly what I ‘need’.

I still have this antique Paris porcelain one to sell with its custom silk shade – if you are interested. 😉

P.S. September 2014 – the Paris Porcelain one sold – $325 – bringing my grand total net gain $1265.

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