Improbable Phrases

Who says that?

Wishful Internet Shopping

I had a marcasite ring that I bought back in Chicago at a jewelry store that I loved. But the marcasites were pavé set instead of prong set, and so several of them fell out. If they had fallen out into my hand, that would have been fine; I would have had them put back in. But they fell out at various times and I wouldn’t discover it until I went to take the ring off at night. Considering that the cost of the ring was $25, it would more than double the cost to have it repaired. So I pitched it, sadly.

I found this ring on Etsy, and I love it. The center “stone” is glass, and the tiny outside stones are marcasite. I would get it in a heartbeat, but it’s vintage from the 1920’s and so it costs $110. I check on it every once in a while to see if the price has gone down. It hasn’t. I imagine at some point I will go to check on it and it will be sold and that will make me sad, but darn it ring, $110 is too much money for a piece of jewelry that I can’t wear everyday. I don’t have a life that would support that sort of extravagant purchase. Again, not in possession of all the monies in the world and so I must make sacrifices. I hope whoever gets that ring really appreciates it.


Singing, Dancing, and Taxes

For the last few weeks I have been listening to audiobook recordings of Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicle books: The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear.

I was listening yesterday and got the best explanation of why wealthy landowners might be a patron of the arts in medieval times. It was to do with taxes.

If the peasantry only saw people associated with the lord of the manor when he wanted money, they might have eventually gotten sour and violent and killed the tax collector instead of paying. But if the lord of the manor also sent around musicians, acrobats, actors, and so on, then they wouldn’t consider people in the lord’s employ as only negative. They were less likely to kill the tax man because they knew that this would mean an end to the plays and circuses and singing as well.

It’s highly simplified, but it makes sense. Chicago does a modern version of this, with free concerts in the parks and at the Cultural Center.

An interesting idea, to be sure. The things you learn from fantasy novels!

Do Something Spontaneous.*

This morning when I was waiting for my email to open, one of the teachers came over with a bag of Dove dark chocolate hazelnut. I haven’t had Dove chocolate in over a year. She knew it was an American chocolate, and so she brought it over so I could have one.

“Do you miss it?” she asked.

I told her that I hadn’t had Dove in a long time, and that I do miss American chocolate sometimes. She gave me two of them and told me that she would bring me a different American chocolate next week.

I tell this story not because I got free chocolate, but because it illustrates how kind and thoughtful my coworkers have been in the time that I have worked here. It puts my last job in stark contrast, where no one liked or respected each other, and we only did nice things for each other at Christmas. Even that was a competition, with people trying to show off by giving bigger and better things.

I knew before I left that I was unhappy in a job that didn’t value me or my skills, but also that I didn’t think my department was very nice. It turns out I was right. I have loved working at a job where my skills are valued and people are kind and giving. It has made a difference not only in my professional life, but in my personal life as well.

* The title of the post comes from the inside of one of the Dove chocolates that she gave me. The other chocolate told me that I was worth it. I guess I am.

By Any and All Names

When I was in college, I spent a summer in the Dominican Republic. I was introduced to a fruit I had never seen before. I loved it. It was made into juice, mostly, and its flavor was distinct and lovely, provided enough sugar was added. Like you would for lemons in lemonade.

In the Dominican Republic they called it chinola. Armed only with that word, I went back to the US to see if I could find it. No luck. My thought was that some cans of vegetables were bilingual, maybe I could find the fruit that way. I discovered later that year that chinola was what Dominicans called it. One of my classmates told me that in Mexico it was maracuyá. But I couldn’t find any under that name either.

The fruit:


Source here.

One day, as I was standing in the juice aisle at Kroger, I found a picture of it on a container marked “Passion Fruit Cocktail.” For $2.80, I figured it was a minimal investment, even if it was wrong. It turned out to be the exact fruit I had loved. I bought it every time I went to the grocery store until they stopped carrying it. For a while I bought a Snapple Passion Fruit something or another that had peach in it. It was okay, but the passion fruit flavor was a little hidden by the other stuff in it.

When I moved to Indonesia in 2012, I noticed that they had one other of the fruits I’d learned about while summering in the Caribbean: guanábana. So maybe they have passion fruit too, I thought. I found it at a few restaurants in Jakarta, but only mixed with mango and so much sugar it didn’t really taste like fruit juice at all: just Kool-Aid. And oddly, listed as passion fruit, which made me wonder if it was import only, since they didn’t have a Bahasa word for it. I was sad that they didn’t seem to have passion fruit juice, but then South Africa came to the rescue. A company called Dewlands exports juice, including passion fruit. Victory!

When I went to Yogya and Sumatra for Christmas, they had fresh passion fruit juice and I discovered that it is grown in Indonesia and I learned the Bahasa Indonesia word for it: markisa. At lunch this week, I discovered that the canteen sells a bottled drink called Frestea that comes in a markisa flavor. I’ve had it twice this week. It’s pretty good, but mixed with a black tea, so the passion fruit flavor isn’t as strong. I’m excited to have found my favorite fruit again.

The tea

markisa teh

Source here .

A sampling of names from around the globe, according to Wikipedia:
maracujá in Brazil
lilikoi in Hawaii
parcha in Puerto Rico
granadilla in South Africa
saowarot or เสาวรส in Thailand
machu bey-darch in Cambodia
estococa in Costa Rica

Reaching Out

blog fountain

In a garden area beside the Art Museum in Chicago, there is a fountain statue that has a five women grouped together, standing and kneeling. My favorite is the one pictured here, who is kneeling down and reaching out away from the water.

This fountain sculpture is called the Fountain of the Great Lakes. It was made in 1913 by Lorado Taft, and apparently each of the five women in the statue is supposed to represent one of the Great Lakes.

I really like this fountain. It’s outside of the Art Museum, so you can see it for free. I would occasionally go and wander around in the garden in the summer, just because it was so pretty. There are trees, ivy, flowers, and other statues too, but I think that the fountain is the best.

This fountain turned 100 years old last year, and considering it has spent the entirety of its life outdoors, I think that it looks really nice. I love the way that the metal has aged in slightly different colors and patterns, giving it a sense of light and shadow that it wouldn’t otherwise have.

Public art like this is all over Chicago, some more modern looking than others, and I’m really glad to have lived in a place where beauty like this is valued enough to be taken care of and shown off for free.

Ferns and Flowers

When I lived in Chicago, I’d try to go to The Garfield Park Conservatory once a year. It wasn’t the sort of place where it was completely different every time you went, but it was so pretty. I really loved the fact that it was so colorful and lush in all weather, especially in the dead of the grey Chicago winter.

The main thing that would change from one time to the next was the art that would be interspersed with the flowers and plants. One of the times that I went, I noticed that in addition to the current set of mosaic pieces, that they had a small series of Chihuly glass pieces. According to a worker, they had purchased them out of the traveling exhibit that had been there several years prior. They were set into a pool where they had a bunch of goldfish. I really liked the way that it looked.

In the photo below, I pitched in some pellets to bring the fish up to the top of the water and make for a better picture. I clearly overdid it, based on the golden horde that surfaced and thrashed and pitched water all over my shoes.

blog fish

Considering how big those glass sculptures were, it’s amazing that some of the leaves were bigger. If I was better with plants, I’d have some idea what they were, but I don’t. They were definitely very Dr. Seuss-looking, which was accentuated by the giant canary-yellow glass flowers.