Happy Birthday Danny Kaye

Happy birthday to Danny Kaye, born on January 18, 1911! We listened to the soundtrack of “Hans Christian Andersen” all the time when I was growing up, even though I was too young to have seen the movie and had to put the story together from the description on the back of the album. I chose this YouTube video of the spinning record and album cover rather than one of the many clips from the movie, because this one is really the way I remember experiencing the music and the story. (It was thrilling when I finally saw the movie on TV years when I was a teenager!) And of course we loved him in “White Christmas” — another movie that I knew from the soundtrack album long before I ever had the opportunity to see it.

Danny Kaye was also a social activist and served as first Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF from 1954 until his death in 1987. Kaye held a commercial pilot’s license and in 1975 flew his plane to 65 cities in five days on a UNICEF good will mission.

Ethereal Automobile

Chevy Bel Air

This classic car caught my eye as I was driving by. It’s a two-tone Chevy Bel Air, cream on the bottom and a pale blue on top. The soft color surprised me — I expect 1950s automobiles to be lipstick red, bright turquoise or tiger lily orange. My reference car for the period is the red and white 1956 Bel Air my mother bought in the 60s.

This one was different. It looked like the sky, like the car you might drive into Heaven.

Artist at Work

Artist Philip Coleman is currently working on a mural on the side of the Beverly Gas & Tire that provides a glimpse into the Gloucester Crossing neighborhood in the 1940s. Coleman, who has painted several other murals in Beverly, volunteered to paint the mural free of charge, using paint and supplies from Beverly Gas & Tire and a boom lift from Martin’s Construction Company. I love the 1940s theme, especially the old cars and service station, and the trompe-l’œil effect that looks like the past is always there below the surface, waiting to be revealed (because it is.)

Beverly Gas & Tire
383 Cabot Street
Beverly, Massachusetts

Artist recreates 1940s scene — Article from Wicked Local Salem

Artist Philip Coleman at Work

Gloucester Crossing Mural

Escape from Appleton Farms

Escaped from Appleton Farms

Some excitement on Route 1A in Ipswich this morning! I was at the entrance to Appleton Farms when I saw a Police car across the highway with the lights on, and the officer outside trying to guide an escaped cow back over to the farm. The cow kept running in and out of the road, coming right to the entrance of the farm at one point but then running back out to the road, heading for the Hamilton line. I hope the cow eventually returned home safe!

Stata Center

Stata Center

The Ray and Maria Stata Center at MIT was Pritzker Prize–winning architect Frank Gehry and opened in 2004. Robert Campbell, architecture columnist for the Boston Globe, gave a positive review and wrote that

People look at its amazing curves and angles and wonder what Martian colony has landed here…The Stata’s appearance is a metaphor for the freedom, daring, and creativity of the research that’s supposed to occur inside it.

Mathematician and architectural theorist Nikos Salingaros harshly criticized the Stata Center and other buildings by Gehry in his 2007 book Anti-Architecture and Deconstruction, writing

An architecture that reverses structural algorithms so as to create disorder—the same algorithms that in an infinitely more detailed application generate living form—ceases to be architecture. Deconstructivist buildings are the most visible symbols of actual deconstruction. The randomness they embody is the antithesis of nature’s organized complexity…Housing a scientific department at a university inside the symbol of its nemesis must be the ultimate irony.

I don’t have critical opinions, I just think it’s fun to look at and don’t know why it took me ten years to get around to taking a few photographs.

Ray and Maria Stata Center
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, Massachusetts

North Court

“My African Mother” by Marcus Samuelsson

51sfBjO0lkL._SL250_I am reading Marcus Samuelsson’s memoir, “Yes, Chef.” I checked it out of the library’s ebook collection because I have seen the author as a judge on cooking competition shows like “Top Chef” and “Chopped” and I like books about chefs and restaurants.

Marcus Samuelsson was born in Ethipia, and the first chapter of the book, “My African Mother,” is an essay about his birth mother. When she and her children all fell ill with tuberculosis, she walked many miles from her remote village with two year old Marcus on her back and his five year old sister by her side to reach a hospital in Addis Ababa. She died there, but her children recovered and were eventually sent to Sweden to be adopted by the Samuelsson family.

Samuelsson has no real memory of her, but has spent a lifetime trying to know her. He has never seen a photograph of her, but says he knows her features because he has seen them staring back at him in the mirror his whole life. He cooks Ethiopian food using the traditional spice mixture called berbere, and writes:

Today, in the dead of night when I should be sleeping, I sometimes imagine the breath of the woman who not only gave me life, but delivered me from death. I sometimes reach into that tin by my stove, take a handful of berbere, sift it through my fingers and toss it into the pan…I have taught myself the recipes of my mother’s people, because those foods are for me, as a chef, the easiest connection to the mysteries of who my mother was.

Samuelsson’s longing to know his missing mother is beautifully expressed here, and doesn’t in any way diminish his love for his adoptive parents. (Chapter 2 is called “My Swedish Mother.”) I think this chapter stands alone perfectly as an essay, and would be meaningful to many people who are not otherwise interested in memoirs of chefs. I found it very moving. My father died when I was nine and my brother was three years old. Losing my father was terrible for me, but at least I had memories. My brother grew up without any of his own memories of his father, just a profound sense of his absence — a different experience from the author’s but still the same profound longing to know someone who is beyond knowing.

Swampscott Railroad Depot

Swampscott Railroad Depot

I’ve admired this building for years, but this is the first time I have photographed it. I decided to be a little more intentional about my photography, and started making a list of places I want to capture, and this was the top of the list for nearby places.

This beautiful 19th century railroad station always looks to me like it belongs on the Island of Sodor with Thomas the Tank Engine — it’s almost too cute to be real! It’s all closed up and no longer in use, but the train still stops here. The train I take to and from Boston stops at this station, and I always find it a thrill to see the old Swampscott sign and all that great gingerbread wood trim out the train window.

Swampscott Railroad Depot
10 Railroad Avenue
Swampscott, Massachusetts

Built in the 1860s in the Stick Style by Boston Housewright George W. Cram
National Register of Historic Places #98001106

Appleton Farms

Appleton Farms

“Rolling grasslands, grazing livestock, stone walls, and historic farm buildings are part of this pastoral landscape – a rare glimpse into New England’s agricultural past. A gift of Colonel Francis R. Appleton, Jr., and his wife Joan, Appleton Farms is one of the oldest continuously operating farms in the country, established and maintained by nine generations of the Appleton family.” — Source: Trustees of Reservations

Appleton Farms
219 County Road
(Route 1A)
Ipswich, Massachusetts

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