Friday, December 2, 2016

Find Christmas Magic in These 600 Glorious Photos

In just a few short hours I am ducking out of the office and hitting the road for a favourite family destination. The lovely Bavarian town of Frankenmuth, Michigan has been on the road trip list virtually every year for decades, going back to when my husband and I first met.

In those days, the charm and history were less an attraction than the annual summer beer festival. With the tunnel-vision of youth when the opportunity for a dash of fun presented itself, our focus was on socializing and partying. A group of us, numbering anywhere from a dozen to 20, headed out, the Friday morning of the second weekend in June,  some in tandem, others too eager to wait, leading the way.

From then until Sunday afternoon when the parade had finally passed us by, we ate, drank and made merry. There was a bit of shopping and a plethora of laughter. It was the best of times: Monday often the worst of times. But we were young, exuberant and healed quickly.  We would dissect the moments that stood out, rehash the events and think of more to come. Thoughts of the next year's visit were already taking shape.

Then one year it struck someone among us that this architectural homage to Bavaria, with its quaint shops and welcoming atmosphere,  might interest our children too. And what began as a frivolous mini-break for lively 20-somethings transitioned into a family excursion, with a few adult diversions in the mix. The revelation, of course, had proved accurate and the new generation enjoyed, not just the party, but the town.

Of particular interest was the gigantic Christmas store, Bronners. With wide-eyed wonder the little ones gazed at the animated displays that replicated everything from Santa's workshop to a winter wonderland.  If magic was anywhere it was in the air there as we grownups looked anew through the eyes of a child.  With sparkling stars dangling from above and cheery snowmen smiling a welcome,  the youngsters bedazzled.

The next inevitable conclusion then for my husband and me was that we must return for a weekend during the Christmas season. How much more perfect would it be to visit this fantastical place during the holidays.  So much more so that it eventually replaced the summer trip.  I recall one trip in particular, when a friend accompanied us in the hopes that her little one's growing disbelief in Santa would be assuaged by the enchantment.  And indeed it did. Old St. Nick worked his charm on the little sceptic, and let her hold on to the fantasy for a few more years.

There is nothing more marvelous than being with children at this time of year.  That's what makes this weekend's trip even more exciting. The tradition is now being introduced to a third generation, as our daughter and adorable grandchildren have been making the Christmas trip with us.  And the hope is for the rest of our family to jump on board in subsequent years.

With the beauty that is a child at Christmas in mind, please enjoy these wonderful pictures from Children at Christmas

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

See Famous Paintings in the Impressive Dover Publications Collection

"You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist." — Friedrich Nietzsche

Yes, individuality is key to what I'm going to chat about today. However, let me begin first by saying that the images I am going to highlight at the end of this missive are photos of real paintings from the impressive Dover Publications collection. For now, though, I ask your indulgence as I  outline the rationale and thoughts that led to this choice.

I am the proud mother of four amazing children. Two boys, two girls, separated in total by 10 years they are all adults now,  living their lives as fate or co-incidence ordained, depending on how you see it.  As they leave behind, with all of the momentum of a speeding locomotive, their 20s and 30s,  it is with an eye to the present, to the goals, dreams and passions that excite them now.

Four children, four very, very unique personalities formed in part by family placement, experiences and whatever particular genetics came their way.  They are to me unique masterpieces — by equally unique artists.

If you could paint a personality, my eldest child, our son would best be done justice by the analytical discipline of Paul C├ęzanne. He is goal-oriented, deciding at a very early age that education was important and setting out to achieve his teaching degree.  He takes his work and volunteer duties seriously, but has a wonderfully droll sense of humour that makes time in his company a fun thing. His circle of friends is large, encompassing people who share his myriad of interests.  His loyalty to them, to his family and in areas of the heart is indisputable.  The responsibilities he takes on often weigh a little heavily on his shoulders.

His first baby sister has a nurturing spirit and an intense love of nature and life's simple things. She was a little mother to her younger sister and brother and a gentle caregiver if illness brought any of us down. The baby of the family for almost seven years, she possesses the seriousness of a role model for younger siblings as well as the lighthearted view of the family baby. Sweet and shy, she developed a mother tiger's fierceness when challenges came to her or any of her loved ones. Over the years she has developed admirable strength and independence.  It's balanced by a smile that brightens a room, a perpetual giggle and a love for a good party.  She is a Monet — light, life and love.

Conversely, it is the abstract, spirited work of Picasso that instantly comes to mind when thinking of an artistic style to define our younger daughter.  From the day she was born there was a sense of independence, not based in strength as much as in the fact that she never sees the world the same way as anyone else. She is an eternal optimist,  playful, open-minded and kind-hearted. She finds the beauty in every situation and every person. Given a task for which she is passionate she attacks it with verve, but has no difficulty in running from those she dislikes. There is a charming flakiness, a perpetual child within her that disarms you all the while you are shaking your head at something she has said or done.

Finally, our youngest. Colourful and charismatic, a musician of modest success, he is our Kandinsky.  The guitar is as much a part of day-to-day routine as eating.  The world he has created for himself takes shape from the music in his life — the places he has been, the people he has met, the pleasure it has brought him.  From the start he charmed his way into the hearts of his family and strangers alike. He has been the love and the bane of his siblings' lives, using wit to bewitch and tease. He is typically the centre of attention, even on the rare occasions he is being quiet and serious.  When something interests him he attacks it with fervency — not always, admittedly, to the best results.

And so, these are the thoughts that inspired the selection of images for today. The vast Dover collection has rare and unique images and graphics, including these pictures of famous artwork: Dover Publications Paintings