January 30, 2007

Not Good Enough For My Home - reviewing "Two Sisters (On the Terrace)" by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

The days I sat in longing on a bench in Chicago's Art Institute with my mother, staring with fascination at this portrait are behind me. Time and age and death have stolen this pleasure. My appreciation of "Two Sisters (On the Terrace)" by Pierre-Auguste Renoir is still there. My visits to the two sisters continue with every passing through the esteemed art museum, but I never sit as long.

I was eight, and Renoir was 55 years gone. His message of romance: naive, pure and welcoming still spoke and still speaks to me now, 30 years later. Whether is was the beautiful young girl in the front, or her equally delicate sister, I cannot say, but asphyxiated with their demure smiles far outshone any subtle smirk portrayed on Mona Lisa. Smothered by their grace and gentle, innocent sophistication, I yearned to be where they were, and to find what emotive elixer put them at such ease.

The original painting is by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, painted in 1881. It is an oil on canvas, and in French is called "Deux soeurs (sur la terasse)." Although 100 x 80 cm from Renoir's brush, this one is 71.12 x 55.88 cm. Almost proportionately correct, the astute artisan may still find himself bothered by the green frame with the title and artist. In creating a pop-art variation of a classic work, the publisher removes a portion of the artist's intention.

Purchasing the original is out of reach, but owning a better quality print is quite possible. Fall in love, as I have, with two sisters waiting in peace on a cool spring day, but do not compromise by buying a print not worthy of their charm.

January 24, 2007

Suitable For Recording Every Adventure - Wire-O Basics Chile Pepper Red Ribbed Lined 5x7 reviewed

How notable is a blank notebook? How much can be said, other than the paper is taut, the spine is sure, and the cover is attractive?

It is not the purchase of a blank notebook that clamors for a review. It is the use.

Mine, now tattered and shorn of its original color, and its spine, now feeble and loose, has known value. The years will take their toll on any notebook. This one will do just fine.

The pages held well the ink of many years, chronicling the names and stories of loves lost, found and lost again. It did not buckle under tears, or tear under the angry scraping of my pen after the ending of what should've been. The spine did not bend or break when she left, and I threw the notebook across the room. The pages did not leave their shelter when I slipped the book quickly into my bag when I met her best friend, whose name was later written with a punctuated smile.

The spiral binding will suit most needs.

January 04, 2007

Easily Stains with Lost Love - Hand-Embroidered Handkerchiefs reviewed

Hand-Embroidered HandkerchiefsHand-Embroidered Handkerchiefs

When I touched the fabric, I felt it close and kind, wrapping around my fingers as do clouds around summer rain. Knowing she, too, touched these thin but supple threads has caused not less than a few moments of happiness.

The handkerchief I have is colored in one corner, slightly off-pink, almost salmon, but still red in it essence. It will not be on the one you purchase. On mine, it is the shape of soft lips with the scent of sweet wine. May you not be so lucky as I as to be haunted by owning one as beautiful as this. The opposite corner is delicately embroidered, and only half as angelic as the other.

We met quickly on the train, commuting one Friday night, later than either of us should have worked. "Dinner?" said she, after a shared discussion of truffles and morels, and which champagne suited each. "Yes, dinner," said I, hoping to talk of chocolate and caviar, and to learn her name.

The train stopped. We stepped off the platform and into a bistro, and ordered a bottle of recent vintage Zinfandel. The sommelier said our choice was perfectly matched to conversation between two entranced lovers. I smiled, she smiled, realizing we needed no wine. We sipped just the same.

The sommelier moved on, and her cell phone rang. She stood up, "I'm sorry," dabbing the wine on her lips with a handkerchief, and left. The handkerchief fell from her purse. I leant to lift it from her chair, but she was gone, nameless and reachless.

Never had I realized a handkerchief could be so heavy. I carry it now, exhausting my heart as I bear its cotton fabric daily. It is washable, but I will leave it as it is.

If you buy this selection of handkerchiefs, be careful not to drop them when your cell phone rings. The mark it may make where it lands could be indelible.


January 03, 2007

A Lovely Cookie Worth Sharing -- Betty Crocker Cookie Mix

These cookies are nothing like the ones I ate when I was 11, at the lunch table while sitting next to Nancy. These Double Chocolate Chunk cookies are exquisitely kind to the senses, but bring no memory of my fifth grade dream girl. Her pleasant eyes would assuage a long morning's pain in Miss Charminker's class, but it was the meting of her chocolate chip cookies that met my heart.

Betty Crocker's cookies are worth sharing too, all of these years later. Made in the oven, they are almost like homemade, almost like the ones Nancy's mom made. Twelve come in the bag if you bake them right. The subtle, bright sweet aroma tinctured with the bold, yet faint milk chocolate scent, captured in a classic cookie enraptured my senses, as they will yours. But, still, the crusty stale, brown-white cookies Nancy shared with me in my youth caused me to smile far more, with a deeper gladdening. She'd lift them gingerly from her brown bag, place one precisely in front of me, on the table, and one in from of her, on the table. She would then proceed to excavate the treasures within, and side-by-side we would eat our lunches until the bell rang.

If you don't know Nancy or her equal, then I suggest you buy the Betty Crocker cookies. They'll taste better than most of the cookies you'll've eaten, and maybe you'll sit next to someone nice at lunch to share them with. Be sure to share. If you do, she might sit next to you tomorrow.