A Cultural Smorgasbord

It was a happy accident that I experienced a cultural smorgasbord within a four-day timespan in March…

Every year, I like to try a new art form. This year, the Groupon gods sent me a water marbling (or ebru) class, which was taught at the Turkish Cultural Center. I’d never heard of water marbling. I invited my art partner in crime Mary along; this was our fourth birthday list art escapade.

Our teacher was Turkish and just lovely. She buys all of her art supplies from Turkey, including special paper, brushes, and paints. I can’t quite explain the process; it was like magic. There were about 10 of us in the class and we rotated among three work stations. We stood in front of a pan of water that was treated with something special for 24 hours. We then picked a few colors, dipped the brush into the paint, and kind of “flicked” the paint onto the water, circles of color floating in the water mixture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once we decided that we were done, we gently laid a piece of paper on top of the pan of colored water, slid the paper off, and voila, the paint ended up on the paper!

We each made two pieces and I was pretty happy with the results…but I mistakenly left one in the classroom and I have misplaced the other one! Search online for “ebru painting” sometime and you will see what a beautiful art form it is.

A couple of days later, I went on a tour of a local mosque, the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, thanks to the organization of my friend Anya.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I walked into the mosque not knowing anything about Islam. Our tour guide was wonderful and spent more than the allotted time with us, telling us about the history of Islam and the history of the mosque. She explained the main tenets of the religion and answered our many questions. I left with the message that Muslims want the chance to explain their religion to others; they want to be a part of the community just as other religions are. I highly recommend taking a tour at your local mosque if you are like me and didn’t know anything about Islam.

A few hours after I left the mosque, I was attending a performance by Kodo, a group of Japanese taiko drummers. I’ve been interested in taiko drumming ever since I took a class last year.

I was expecting a few hours of loud, powerful (but beautiful) banging on gigantic drums. Silly me. It was a few hours of drumming on many different types of drums, plus bell ringing, plus beautiful and sometimes humorous choreography.

In the aftermath of this smorgasbord, I felt grateful to live in a city that offers so many opportunities to experience other cultures. For someone who loves to travel but can’t always afford it, I cherish the fact that I can have such experiences without leaving home.

A Night of Stars

Boston is the perfect place for lifelong learners. With dozens of colleges in the area, one could probably attend a free lecture, performance, or event of some kind every night.

I finally made it to Harvard’s free monthly Observatory Night. This night usually entails a lecture and then a look-see through a telescope on the roof.

Harvard Observatory Night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My friend Abby and I attended a couple of months ago. I chose this particular Observatory Night because the speaker would be talking more about history than science. Nothing against science…I just comprehend history better!

A science writer named Dava Sobel spoke about her recent book, The Glass Universe. She gave a broad overview of a number of women who were hired at the Observatory in the 1800s as human computers to translate the observations of male researchers to paper. But once photography started being used to document the stars, many of the women started making their own observations, discovering stars and designing classification systems.

After the lecture, we received the sad news that there would be no observation on the roof that night due to snow/ice. There were volunteers offering tours of the building and of a room that holds half a million glass plates (or at least a few million of the half a million?), but we would have had to wait for hours (literally) because so many people had signed up before us.

So we went on our way, vowing to return during nicer weather.

Tea at the Library

Like any good Anglophile, I love afternoon tea. I’ve enjoyed trying it at different hotels in Boston: the Ritz-turned-Taj, the Four Seasons, the Park Plaza. I’ve also had tea at L’Espalier and Upstairs on the Square (R.I.P.). I had been wanting to try tea at the Boston Public Library, but up until a year or so ago, it was only offered during the week.

Therefore, I was psyched when I was invited to tea at the library last month to celebrate the upcoming nuptials of my friend Linda. It was a lovely outing to celebrate a lovely occasion.

Tea menu at the Boston Public Library

 

 

 

 

 

 

I chose Earl Grey tea (as I often do), which didn’t disappoint, and the sandwiches and petits fours were delightful as well.

Tea at the Boston Public Library

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The staff were cheerful and I loved the purple-ness of the room. The walls were purple, the chairs were purple, the glassware was purple. It was surprisingly…inviting. And different in a good way.

I think my favorite afternoon tea is still the Taj‘s (the live music puts it on top for me), but the tea at the library is a close second.

Bargain Shopping and Beer

What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than bargain shopping and drinking beer?

I grew up going to garage sales, flea markets, antique markets, you name it. So I was elated to finally make it to the Cambridge Antique Market.

Cambridge Antique Market

 

 

 

 

 

 

Allen and I spent a couple of hours perusing five floors of goodies. Vintage clothing, lots of china, old books and board games. Furniture and appliances. A little bit of everything.

We both walked away with one CD; he found a Death Cab for Cutie album for me, and I found a Patti Smith album for him.

Down the road is a craft brewery that we hadn’t been to yet = Somerville Brewing Company. I ordered a flight of its core beers, and Allen ordered a pint of the Trekker Trippel. I’ve tried a few of the beers before and they make me happy.

Slumbrew flight

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have about six weeks left until the birthday and nine things left to do. I got this.

Bearded Dragons and Baking Bread

You know you’re too busy when you’re still reporting on things that you checked off the list in February…

My friend Abby and I intended to ride a zipline set up in a Boston park by a Kissimmee, Florida, tourist organization one February weekend. But when I arrived 15 minutes before it opened and the wait was already two hours, we settled for having our photo taken with a baby alligator and holding a lizard called a bearded dragon. I pleaded with the handler to refrain from putting a large snake around my neck. (However, the snake was surreptitiously slipped around Abby’s neck.)

holding a bearded dragon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was expecting the bearded dragon to be solid and rough, but it had a very soft underbelly. It was cute for a lizard.

And with no segue…I baked zucchini bread for the first time. My mom baked it once in a while when I was young so I feel nostalgic whenever I buy it at a cafe. I found her recipe for zucchini muffins (not bread, curiously) and spent a Sunday afternoon grating zucchini.

grated zucchini

 

 

 

 

 

 

It turned out SO GOOD. I’m adding it to my baking rotation now.

zucchini bread

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’ll be hearing from me again soon as I attempt to make up for lost time…

 

 

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40 things to do on the birthday list!

BirthdayJune 1st, 2015

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