1. On Sunday I was feeling thin, so I decided I would go jeans shopping. For me searching for a pair of jeans is more ridiculous than searching for
Jimmy Hoffa a bathing suit. With a bathing suit, I’m realistic enough to know that even the most miraculous of miracle suits is not going to make me look like Gisele Bundchen. But jeans are clothes, and I’m not exposing skin (at least not on purpose). Plus, when did buying jeans get so complicated? Every brand has their own terminology so confusing that they have definitions on the tags: modern fit, loose fit, natural fit, demi curve, relaxed leg, boot cut, curvy boot cut, flare cut, moderate flare cut, blue vintage wash, rinsed wash, low rise, semi-low rise. As if that isn’t enough to make your head spin, then there are the descriptions that seem to be conflicting. What is low-rise curvy straight leg? Tapered boot cut?
And so, I have two rules: 1. Go to the store early in the morning, but after I’ve fully caffeinated. There is a small window of opportunity when I’m my most bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed self. Fifteen minutes on either side and it’s all over. 2. Go alone. For the sake of my relationships, it’s better this way. How disheartening would it be to hear a friend call from the dressing room: “Can you get me a size 0?”
After 2 hours at the store, I’m semi-happy to report that I purchased a pair of jeans I’m semi-happy with and I’m really happy to report that I don’t have to do this again for quite a while.
2. The leaves are still on the trees, but I’m stocking up for winter. One grower at the farmer’s market had huge bunches of basil for sale. So I turned this:
In my super secret pesto recipe, I mix pine nuts and walnuts into the basil and a couple of cloves of garlic. I had so much basil I was able to make 4 batches of pesto. I freeze it so I can have it all winter long. Aside from putting it on sandwiches and pasta, I like to drizzle a spoonful or two into homemade minestrone. Just thinking about it makes me excited about the cold weather.
3. The Discovery Museum held an exhibit on Pompeii: Life in the Shadow of Vesuvius. Armed with my Groupon deal, I braved the crowds of Times Square, and I was not disappointed.
In A.D. 79, when Vesuvius erupted, Pompeii was part of the Roman Empire and the 25,000 people who lived in this city at the base of the volcano were mostly living the good life (except of course for the slaves and peasants). The first room of the exhibit told the story of the daily lives of the Pompeiians with items such as fish hooks, terra cotta wine decanters and statuettes of the gods. On display were large scale frescoes that adorned the walls of many homes, usually depicting the gods. I was impressed by the artistry and detail of the artwork, but the vibrancy of the colors was most amazing. These weren’t paints. They made colors by grinding up barks, ash, pine needles and spices among other things.
The next section of the exhibit was the aftermath of the eruption, which was the reason all of the above artifacts had been so perfectly preserved. One of the placards said that the Pompeiians had no word for volcano in Latin. They thought they’d been living in the shadow of a lovely mountain. Imagine their surprise on the morning of August 24 (A.D. 79) when the thing started spewing ash. There were four eruptions of increasing intensity over the next two days, the fourth creating a surge of extreme heat reaching 570 degrees F. But by then most of the people had either escaped the city or had already been killed by the ash column which by some estimates had reached 98,000 feet into the stratosphere.
Pompeii was lost to time for the next 1,700 years when a man drilling for a well, discovered a city buried beneath 12 feet of compacted and hardened ash. As archeologists excavated, they found 1,100 remains frozen in place. Well, technically these aren’t actual bodies but impressions created from the cavities found in the volcanic matter. An archaeologist discovered that he could pour plaster into the cavity and when it set, the hardened ash could be chipped away to leave the indentation of the body that had been there. Incredible, no?
Most were found in a prone position like the ones shown here at the site.
But the one that captured my imagination the most was this figure, labeled “Crouching Man” who was found clutching his cloak to his mouth probably to try to keep out the ash.
And of course this poor soul who had even less of an idea of what was happening to him than his people did.
Have you ever been to Pompeii? What aspect did you find most intriguing?
4. Sung-bong Choi is a Shine-worthy person if there ever was one. He is a semi-finalist on Korea’s Got Talent. His story of survival is amazing. Homeless at the age of five, he was on his own and sold gum to get by. Now he is 22 and sings Italian love songs with an angelic voice. You may have seen this clip – 11 million people already have – but it’s worth a watch if you haven’t. One of the judges remarks, “Regardless of his hard life, he passionately runs toward what he really wants and even talented ones rarely have that passion.” Shine on Sung-bong Choi!
5. Celebrating Labor Day here in the US on my roof deck with a cup of coffee, a book of Mary Oliver’s poetry and Reggie.
Have a great weekend everyone!