James Tissot (1836-1902) was a skilled French artist who was a friend of Whistler and Degas. He had an enormously important career in France and then decided to move to England in 1871 where he replicated his previous success as a skilled society painter. He met Kathleen Newton who became his model, mistress, muse and the great love of his life. She died tragically in 1882 and he immediately returned to France. He had a profound religious experience in a Parisian Church where he saw a vision of Christ as the Comforter, with His arms around the homeless people of Paris. Thereafter he devoted his life to painting religious subjects and visited the Holy Land twice. The Brooklyn Museum has a large collection of his series on the Life of Christ. One of his greatest Biblical paintings is Saint Joseph Seeks a Lodging in Bethlehem.
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The recent tragic derailment of a Metro-North train took place in the Spuyten Dyvil section of the Bronx. This is a section of New York City which many people are not familiar with. I am familiar with the name because when I was growing up my Mother used to talk about it because she had relatives who lived there and she used to go from Brooklyn to Spuyten Dyvil frequently. I was very impressed with the name but thought that it was German. However it is Dutch and basically means Spinning Devil in reference to the roughness of the waters nearby. It was also the site of the first recorded shark attack in the New World.
Years ago Christmas television specials would come on once a season and if you missed it, well, you missed it. There seemed to be something special about everyone getting together to watch “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” with homemade cookies and hot chocolate. But in today’s busy world it isn’t always possible to get everyone together on the one night something is on TV. Yes you can record it, but then there are all those commercials.
I was just looking in our catalog and found that we have 78 holiday movies. There is definitely something for everyone in our collection. As I reviewed the list I found several that I can watch every holiday season. What would Christmas be without “it’s a Wonderful Life”? Although I watch it year after year I always see something new. What do you think people’s lives would be like if you were never born? Just think of all the people you have touched or who have touched you; it’s an interesting thought.
“Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” has been around since 1964. It has been shown every year and is the longest running Christmas television special. An elf who wants to be a dentist, why not, everyone has the chance to be who they want to be. Then there’s the Isle of Misfit toys with a bird that swims instead of flying, a caboose with square wheels and a cowboy who rides an ostrich. Every one of them is OK in Rudolph’s book and it’s a great lesson for kids.
We also have “Miracle on 34th St.”, “A Christmas Carol”, and “Babes in Toyland” which are all popular during the holiday season. I’m sure most of you won’t get through the year without hearing someone say “you’ll shoot your eye out!” and although I’ve seen it year after year, I still laugh when the dogs take the turkey off the table or when the little brother bundled in his snow suit falls down and can’t move. You can’t help but be amused when you watch “A Christmas Story” and learn that important lesson that you should never lick a frozen flag pole!
Our collection has lots of movies for the little ones, names like Elmo, Eloise, Caillou, Dora and Mickey all pop up with the Christmas search. There’s also my personal favorite, “The Year Without a Santa Clause.” Watch it once and I can’t stop singing about Heat Miser and Snow Miser for the rest of the season!
So don’t be a Grinch, check-out one of your favorites or watch a new Christmas special. Make a date with your family for a fun holiday movie night. The hot chocolate may be instant and the cookies may be cut and bake but take some time out and spend it with your family during the holidays.
Fingal’s Cave is a sea cave on the uninhabited island of Staffa in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. Its size and eerie sounds produced by waves give it the atmosphere of a natural cathedral. It has been an inspiration to many artists including Felix Mendelssohn who wrote The Hebrides Overture (also called Fingal’s Cave overture) after visiting the cave in 1829. It also inspired J. M. W. Turner to paint Staffa, Fingal’s Cave in 1832.
I know that when I see the Dark Eyed Junco show up at my feeder it’s a sign that winter is near. Although that isn’t great news to most of us, I find the sight of new snow peppered with a flock of Juncos one of the best sights of winter.
Juncos spend the winter in flocks of 6 to 30 or more birds. Each flock has a dominance hierarchy with adult males at the top, then juvenile males, females and finally young females. Although they look like they are playing as they frolic in the snow, they are actually aggressively challenging each other. Either way, they could entertain me for hours.
Juncos live in the forests of the western mountains and Canada. They move into the rest of North America for the winter once a cold front moves in. These birds have also been called “snow birds” since they seem to show up when the snow does, but it is also believed that the name could come from their gray backs and white underbellies or “leaden skies above, snow below.”
Juncos foraging in the wild use a method called “riding.” They fly up to a seed cluster on a grass stem and “ride” it to the ground where they pick off all the seeds. Ingenious little birds who know how to get what they want!
If you are interested in learning more about Juncos or other birds that visit your feeder come in and borrow one of our bird identification books.