Saturday, July 31, 2021

A Little More of Iceland


One day we saw whales!

On the way back from the whales, some “vikings”
served us hot chocolate from a Zodiac boat.

The Bridge is always open so you can watch them navigate the ship. At the end of the day, the
sun looks deep orange for hours. A few hours later, around 2 AM, sunrise also looks orange for hours.

Waterfalls are everywhere!

Iceland is very beautiful!

Internet and time are both limited — there’s too much great stuff to do for blogging.You’ll hear more when I get back. This post © 2021 mae sander.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Paddington's Café

Paddington Bear, a finger-puppet, has a small café in a little garden house. The teapots are around half-an-inch in size. The tiny poster is an "ATC" -- a recent gift from Elizabeth at the Altered Book Lover blog. I'm grateful to her for sending me such a perfect item for Paddington.

An ATC is an Artist Trading Card.

The teapots are made with a 3D printer.
They were a gift from Evelyn, as was the little house.
This post is being written quite a bit in advance of the special day for sharing the ATCs that Elizabeth made and sent to the winners of her lottery at her blog. Each week, she has many bloggers link up posts which feature a beverage, and today, a few of these bloggers will be sharing the ATCs that she sent them. Obviously, Paddington's café features tea made in the tiny teapots! The ATC that says "Drinks" is the perfect addition to his café.

Blog post © 2021 mae sander. 

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Overnight to Iceland

Greenland from the window of the plane.

Hotel window view. It’s a foggy, rainy day in Reykjavik.
The hotel has wireless access. Maybe not the ship, which we
board this afternoon.

Blog post © 2021 mae sander.


Saturday, July 24, 2021

With any luck...

The National Geographic Explorer

With any luck, tonight we will fly to Reykjavik, Iceland, and tomorrow we will board the National Geographic Explorer for a trip to see mostly wildlife, and also a few other sights. A photo from our previous expedition on the Explorer shows the ship in the background, and a colony of penguins in the foreground. No penguins this time -- but maybe a few good Northern Hemisphere arctic birds and animals.

In these uncertain times, our family motto remains "You're never there until you're there." We are aware of a number of issues, especially bureaucratic, that can arise in the next 24 hours. But we have hope that we'll be there and that the trip will be a success!

We may be without internet access some or all of the time, so there may not be many blog posts until some time in August. I won't be visiting other blogs or leaving comments, and I won't be linking to other bloggers after today. If you see nothing here, there's a good chance that we were lucky! (I have one post about another subject scheduled to appear while we are gone.) But you'll hear from me again next month. I wish you all lots of summer fun and good health, and no problems with bureaucracy!

Blog post © 2021 mae sander.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Birthday Post

My birthday cake!

Driving to Virginia Today

Driving through Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, on the way to Fairfax today we noticed this mural.
We are at the beginning of a long trip — Fairfax is our first destination.

Blog post © 2021 mae sander.

A Report on Food Insecurity

The topic of hunger and how it affects people around the world is of great concern to me. A recently published report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has a very detailed study of this topic on a global scale, including possible ways to address the issues. This study is 236 pages long, published online here

I do not have the stamina to read the entire report, or even much of it, but here is a summary, from the foreword, of the unimaginable scale of the problem:

"This year, this report estimates that between 720 and 811 million people in the world faced hunger in 2020 – as many as 161 million more than in 2019. Nearly 2.37 billion people did not have access to adequate food in 2020 – an increase of 320 million people in just one year. No region of the world has been spared. The high cost of healthy diets and persistently high levels of poverty and income inequality continue to keep healthy diets out of reach for around 3 billion people in every region of the world. Moreover, new analysis in this report shows that the increase in the unaffordability of healthy diets is associated with higher levels of moderate or severe food insecurity." (p. 6)

I learned about this here:

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Huron River Bridges

A deer is standing under this decorated bridge (lower right)

Update: Map of Parks Along the Huron River 

The photos above are from Dexter-Huron Park. I live in Ann Arbor, and I often go to these parks.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Anaïs Nin in Paris and in Ann Arbor

Author Anaïs Nin (1903-1977) lived in Paris from 1924-1940, and was famous for her relationships with a variety of literary, psycho-analytic, and artistic figures there, especially with the American author Henry Miller. I was thinking about Paris and the writers' presence in the cafés of Paris, especially at the Dôme, which she frequented.

No matter where she was or what she was doing, Anaïs Nin constantly took notes in her diaries, a series of notebooks that were always with her wherever she went. A heavily edited multi-volume version of these diaries, published from 1966 through 1974 brought her to the attention of the growing feminist movement. Many women who were "raising their consciousness" embraced her as a feminist spirit who defied the male point of view that predominated literary publications of the time. 

Anaïs Nin's feminist credibility was boosted by the editing decision that all traces of her husbands (one of them a lifelong husband who supported her Bohemian Paris existence, the other a bigamous husband whom she lived with later in a separate parallel life in California) were completely omitted from the published versions of her diaries. In the 1970s, many of her obscure writings, especially her erotic writings, were also published or republished in popular editions.

Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1973. At the peak of her popularity, Anaïs Nin made a splashy appearance in Ann Arbor; I attended her lecture at an overcrowded auditorium on the campus. I remember her, a small figure in a large dark-colored caftan. I remember her calling on the audience (virtually all women) to repeat her name three times: ANNA--EES, ANNA-EES, ANNA-EES, to be sure it would be pronounced correctly, because, she said, women were naming their daughters Anaïs. 

I wonder what happened to those babies, and if they still have that name. The Ann Arbor library has several clippings from that time, as well as images of our most famous mural in which Nin is pictured with several other writers:

Another find from my attic. Other than rearranging my shelves, I doubt if I have touched these since the 1970s.

What's happened to the reputation of Nin now? An article in the Guardian a few years ago explains that brief quotations from her pontificating works have become ubiquitous as Internet memes! This long article traces her various lives -- including the double life she led in the 1950s, when married to two men at once, and caught when both of them claimed her on their income tax returns. 

The conclusion of the article:
"To blur the boundaries of life and fiction, as Nin did, has gone beyond being an acceptable tactic of experimental writers, and is now practiced by reality-television producers and popular novelists alike. Similarly, for a woman to write about her sex life hasn’t been shocking since the invention of Blogspot. Self-publication, too, has lost nearly all of its stigma, thanks to the fact that 'real' writers and civilians alike are expected to do it.

"Her polarizing personality, too, would have been at home in 2015: Nin was once called a 'narcissist' for gadding about in eye-catching thrift-shop costumes and dramatic makeup. Nowadays, that’s the day-to-day work of celebrities. The close personal connection Nin sought with her fans – toward the end of her life, she abandoned writing so that she could answer every one of her thousands of fan letters – is now the entire purpose of social media....

"The rehabilitation of Nin is taking place not because her work has changed, but because the world has changed to make room for her work. Like many great and 'mercilessly pretentious' experimentalists, she wrote for a world that did not yet exist, and so helped to bring it into being."

In the ongoing July event at Tamara's blog, there have been very few mentions of Nin and her many works about Paris, though she would be a wonderful source for this event, so I thought I would share these few thoughts of mine.

Blog post © 2021 mae sander.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

A Beautiful Utility Box

Ann Arbor, Michigan, South University Avenue.

… and some very ordinary graffiti which I may have showed you before.
Sharing with Mural Monday.

Photos © 2021 mae and len sander.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

The Café du Dôme, Paris

André Kertesz, 1925, Le Café du Dôme, Paris. 
"Well, we'll meet again shan't we? Of course we shall. It would be a pity not to meet again, wouldn't it? Will I meet them at the Pékin tomorrow for lunch? I have an idea that I shan't be feeling much like Chinese food at half-past twelve tomorrow. We arrange to meet at the Dôme at four o'clock." (Jean Rhys, Good Morning, Midnight, p. 42)
What was the Dôme? Founded at the turn of the 20th century, this was the café most popular with the artists, writers, and intellectuals of the inter-war period -- Ernest Hemingway, Robert Capa, Pablo Picasso, Anaïs Nin, Man Ray, Henry Miller, Gertrude Stein, Walter Benjamin, and so on. Also there: hangers-on who wanted to see the famous people. 

In Jean Rhys's 1937 novel Good Morning, Midnight, the narrator is an English woman who is staying temporarily in Paris at a rather seedy hotel. (Very similar in many respects to the central characters of the two earlier Jean Rhys novels I wrote about last week.) As she wanders around Paris, she remembers her life there quite a bit earlier, in the mid-1920s, and also experiences the Paris of the mid-1930s.

Her rather pathetic Paris wanderings often end up at the Dôme:
"I'm not going to any beastly little bar tonight. No, tonight I'm going somewhere where there's music; somewhere where I can be with a lot of people; somewhere where there's dancing. But where? By myself, where can I go? I'll have one more drink first and then think it out. 
"Not the Dôme, I'll avoid the damn Dôme. And of course it's the Dôme I go to. 
"The terrace is crowded, but there are not many people inside." (p. 65)

And later, she begins to talk to a man sitting at a table opposite to hers at the Dôme. She points out to him: "You want somebody very rich and very chick." He says "Yes, that's what would just suit me. And beautiful." And she answers: "But my dear, you're not going to find that at the Dôme." (p. 72) 

Good Morning Midnight makes reference to many other cafés and small restaurants in Paris, both in the narrator's 1930's frame story and in her flashbacks to her life in the 1920s. She mentions the Ritz Hotel (but never goes there), the Deux Magots. the Closerie de Lilas, the Select... many more. But somehow, she always comes back to the Dôme. (For a list of famous cafés during this era see: "The Lost Generation: Cafés in Paris.)

Eugene Atget, Café du Dôme, 1925.

Len and I ate breakfast at the Dôme a few years ago, when staying nearby.
Although the location and the decor are kept the same, the Dôme is now a very
high-priced seafood restaurant, not at all a meeting place for intellectuals.

In some ways, as I read Good Morning, Midnight, I felt as if I was reading yet another version of Jean Rhys's first two books. However, the character in this one is somewhat more developed and self-aware, despite being just as pathetic and helpless. Her constant need to ask for money, and to get people to buy her food, as well as to sympathize with her, is sad, and illustrates her desperate state. Sometimes her depression makes her not want food, though she manages to drink alcohol constantly. Sometimes in the flashbacks to earlier times she spent long times without a real meal, or she had to smuggle food into her hotel room when she had no money for a restaurant. Her hunger is often vividly described.
"I start thinking about food. Choucroute, for instance -- you ought to be able to get choucroute garnie here. Lovely sausage, lovely potato, lovely, lovely cabbage.... My mouth starts watering violently. I drink half the glass of Pernod in order to swallow convenablement." (p. 81)
"We go next door to a place called La Napolitaine and eat ravioli. Warming me. Eat slowly, make it last a long time... I've never been so happy in my life. I'm alive, eating ravioli and drinking wine. I've escaped. A door has opened and let me out into the sun. What more do I want. Anything might happen." (p. 118)
It's hard to describe the desperation of this character. And hard to read her very depressing story. Very different from the happy dreams and memories of Paris that are being shared this month at the blog event Paris in July. I'm also sharing all these beverage photos with the bloggers at Elizabeth's weekly blog party.

Blog post © 2021 mae sander.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

The Ann Arbor Art Fair

Bicycles are on my mind because of the Tour de France.

The fountain by Carl Milles was a welcome sight. Last year they never removed the winter covering,
thanks to the pandemic. Now it's back to normal.

The fountain and the iconic campus Bell Tower.

Artist Ray Kenyatta

This year's poster.
The Ann Arbor Art Fair has been an annual event every July since 1960 -- except for last year when everything, yes everything, was cancelled. The welcome decision to hold a fair this year was made very late. The size of the fair is much smaller than in the recent past, and the fair only lasts for three days. I didn't see any food trucks in the usual food vending area, so I suspect that outdoor dining was cancelled as well. The Ann Arbor Potters Guild participation seems not to have happened this year either.

We walked through quite a bit of the fair this morning, and my favorite photos are above. We were also very charmed by two artists: Ray Kenyatta, who makes silk screen images from his photographic negatives; and Radim Schreiber (, who photographs insects, especially fireflies. We bought one of Schreiber's works.

Today was Day 1, and it wasn't very crowded. I hope the artists do very well. 

Blog post and photos © 2021 mae sander