The Burghers of Calais

Several years ago I visited the campus of Standord University in California. I was intrigued with these sculptures of Rodin. I have to admit I wasn’t familiar with the entire story behind them. Blogging is so educational!

These six men represent the Burghers of Calais (Les Bourgeois de Calais).

 

In 1885 the town council of the French city of
Calais commissioned Rodin to produce a
sculpture that would pay tribute to the
burghers of Calais, heroes of the Hundred
Years’ War and symbols of French patriotism.
~ ~ ~ ~
Rodin chooses to portray the moment in the
narrative when the men, believing they are
going to die, leave the city. He shows the
burghers as vulnerable and conflicted, yet
heroic in the face of their likely fate.

(Two excerpts from “THE STORY OF THE BURGHERS OF CALAIS”)

Most of the time, these men are portrayed in a cluster. Here on the Stanford campus, they are shown in separate bronze castings (1981). These were not from the original, however. By law, only a small number were made from the original after Rodin’s death. Here is a casting of Rodin’s signature.

 

Calais is an important French port on the English Channel. In 1347, during the Hundred Years’ War, Calais had been under siege for over a year by the English. Due to starvation, King Philip VI of France was not able to hold onto Calais. King Edward III of England said he would “spare the people of the city if any six of its top leaders would surrender themselves to him, presumably to be executed.”

Eustache de Saint-Pierre volunteered to be first. Five others followed.

 

They walked out wearing nothing but their “breeches” (underwear) with nooses around their necks. Jean Froissart (circa 1337-1400) wrote the story in his Chroniques that relate historical events of that era as he saw them.

The figure in the final monument portrays Pierre de Wiessant looking over his shoulder, his hand extended as if in despair. His face shows great anguish, and his intense emotions make him appear withdrawn from the other figures.
http://www.cantorfoundation.org/Rodin/Gallery/rvg34.html

 

As we confront Jean d’Aire, we find ourselves focusing on the self-absorbed quality of the figure and gradually, almost without our awareness, we come to realize that we are confronting the unheroic, complex human being that is ourselves. http://www2.davidson.edu/academics/acad_depts/art/facilities/jeandaire.html

 

Although Froissart does not mention Andrieu d’Andres in his Chroniques, the name of this man was uncovered in 1863. The figure is shown “already clutching his head in despair.” http://nga.gov.au/International/Catalogue/Detail.cfm?IRN=115165

 

Jacques de Wiessant was Pierre’s brother, and the fourth burgher to volunteer. Rodin gives his “his final gesture, the raised arm.” http://nga.gov.au/International/Catalogue/Detail.cfm?IRN=115165

 

Rodin assumed Jean de Fiennes to be the youngest of the six burghers. . . . The burgher’s expression is very doubting as if he has not quite accepted his seemingly imminent fate. http://www.cantorfoundation.org/Rodin/Gallery/rvg33.html

 

It was this moment, and this poignant mix of defeat, heroic self-sacrifice, and willingness to face imminent death that Rodin captured in his sculpture, scaled somewhat larger than life. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Burghers_of_Calais

 

Philippa of Hainault, England’s Queen, was expecting a child and she convinced her husband not to execute the men, claiming that “their deaths would be a bad omen for her unborn child.”

A remarkable incident in history – and a stunning set of sculptures for Stanford University, located in Memorial Court at the entrance to the Main Quad and Stanford Memorial Church.

For more of Rodin’s work, you might like to visit the Rodin Sculpture Garden, located off the Palm Drive entrance to Stanford University.

A hui hou!

Lothlorién

 

Two years ago, before I started this current blog, I created another blog that was designed to talk about my life as a sailboat live-aboard. That blog didn’t last long, because it was during those few weeks of its existence that I came up with the idea for “Lava to Lilikoi.”

So from time to time, I thought I would post something about the special time my son and I had for five years of adventurous living on a sailboat.

In the late 1970s, when Flower Power and Free Love were languishing, I flirted with trading the equity in my house for equity in a new 37′ O’Day sloop-rigged sailboat. Within five months, I became a “live-aboard” with fifteen-year-old Erik, my youngest child. We christened our new home Lothlorién, for the sanctuary in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy to which the Elf King and Elf Queen transported Frodo and his friends at a critical point in their adventure.

In Tolkien’s story, it was within the Lothlorién that all their healing and protection took place, while all the dangers and threats were forced to remain outside its borders. Our Lothlorién was that haven for us, our personal sanctuary of peace, safety, and healing. We needed the storms of life to remain outside. We often invited our friends to savor that sanctuary with us for a day sail, a weekend cruise, or sometimes longer. Tolkien’s famous quote was our motto – “…not all those who wander are lost.”

 

Characters who don’t know much about boats always ask, “How many does she sleep?” That’s the wrong question! We sailors usually respond by saying that a sailboat will “drink six, feed four and sleep two.” There may be room enough to sleep an army by spreading people out over decks and into hammocks, but you abandon all carnal comforts in doing so. Naturally, this can depend on just how close you are with the friends you bring along, too. My boat basically was designed to sleep six, but six people really wouldn’t do that if they wanted to remain friends after the cruise was over.

 

One summer, I hadn’t gotten paid for about three months. The insurance company that reimbursed us for most of our clients was undergoing a major change in their computer system. None of us in the clinic where I worked were getting paid on a regular basis. My boys and I were hanging on by a thread.

So what does a girl do when the going gets tough? She spends a week moored at the Isthmus of Catalina Island with a good book, and leaves her troubles behind.

 

We were really living a good life, in spite of having no money. I had a bag of masa, a hunk of cheddar cheese, a few eggs, and stuff like spices. The boys were fishing and diving for abalone. What else do you really need for food? We had lots of homemade tortillas with melted cheddar and scrambled eggs, along with plenty of fresh fish and abalone. That’s when abalone was still plentiful in California.

Someone taught us how to eat raw abalone. Instead of pounding it like you need to if you cook it, you cut the raw meat into pieces like shoestring potatoes. Dip it into a mix of soy sauce, ginger, and anything else your taste buds desired, and munch! It’s a wonderful treat!!

 

Once, when folks from our local sail fleet had a cookout, we showed up with fresh sheepshead, abalone, and hot tortillas. Everyone else was roasting wieners and opening cans of beans. Even though we didn’t have money for hamburgers or wieners, we ate well – and were the envy of everyone else.

When I feel bogged down with Life, I sometimes think about what fun it would be to live on a boat again.

A hui hou!

Remembrance of an Era

My brother recently posted about the concert he attended in Florida. Because he mentions that it was more about his sister’s era (that’s me!) I thought I would share it with you. Of course, watching the video clips he chose certainly did bring back a lot of memories. Since many of you don’t read my brother’s blog, he has given me permission to repost it here!

Enjoy!! And let me know if you are in my era, too! Thanks, Hilton!!


Work o’ the Weavers at St. Pete Palladium Side Door

 
A few nights ago, a friend called and said, “We’re going to the [Work o’ the] Weaver’s concert Thursday night at the Palladium. I know you like that kind of music. Do you want to come, too.” I said yes immediately.

Although I’m not quite old enough to remember The Weavers themselves (that’s more my sister’s generation who lived through all that in California, San Francisco, North Beach, the hungry i, etc.), but I am old enough to remember all the groups the Weaver’s spawned (The Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul, and Mary, and others of the American Folk Music Revival).

And…I am old enough to remember seeing Joseph McCarthy on someone’s television (we didn’t have one then). I mention that because the Weavers and other folk singers of that time, as well the classical composer and American legend, Aaron Copland, were all hauled before McCarthy’s committee and interrogated. And, yes, they were definitely left-leaning sympathizers and supporters of Henry Wallace for president.

Thursday night’s concert by the contemporary tribute group, Work o’ the Weavers (see workotheweavers.com), was one of the most enjoyable musical evenings I’ve had in a long time. If you ever get a chance to hear the group, go. Their appeal is not limited to folks my age; I saw a number of teens and young adults there who were bobbing and swaying and singing “Good Night Irene” along with us of the blue-rinse set.

My guess is the only demographic group not represented–or if they were there, they kept on the down low–were Tea Party members, because the tradition of the Weavers, which the Work o’ the Weavers is all about, is definitely tied to the Progressive movement during the Great Depression and World War II. So many of the songs that were sung then, and last night, are unfortunately still appropriate now during the Great Recession, especially the pro-labor and pro-peace songs.

The concert was in two parts. In the first part, every song was woven into a detailed narrative of the history of the (original) Weavers. It really was a complete history of the group, the music, its composers and lyricists, and the times. It was not just a series of songs by the Weavers. It was educational in a very real sense.

The second part of the concert followed the dictum of Pete Seeger, who is close to the members of the group and endorses it, to not just look backward, but to sing also what the Weavers would sing now if they still existed today. What a wonderful idea. Three songs from that second half were my personal favorites for the night: Red Goes the Vine/In Dead Earnest, We’re Still Here, and My Peace. They’re all on a CD called We’re Still Here. That’s a link to the MP3 “album” which just costs a hair over 1/2 what the actual CD sold at the concert cost. I recommend it, highly.

The Work o’ the Weavers website has plenty of information and videos. Here’s one, Work o’ the Weavers – Distilled, that gives you a good feel for the group.

The lyrics of the aforementioned song, “My Peace,” was written by Woodie Guthrie just after he was hospitalized with Huntington’s Disease and set to music by his son, Arlo Guthrie. Here it is being sung by the Guthrie Family – My Peace:

If you’d like to see some video of the original Weavers, here’s The Weavers – Around The World:

Here’s a Youtube presentation of them singing the first song the Weavers ever recorded, The banks of Marble – The Weavers (that’s Pete Seeger singing solo on first verse):

The words of that song are so appropriate today, maybe more than ever before. Here’s a more recent recording just by Pete Seeger and with a more meaningful video — Banks of Marble:

And…thrown in for good measure and having almost nothing to do with The Weavers or Pete Seeger or The Work o’ the Weavers other than it’s authentic, old-timey American folk music is this video I stumbled upon while looking up the other videos — the Best Bluegrass Clog Dancing Video Ever Made. Unfortunately, that has to be watched on Youtube, itself and can’t be embedded. So, please click on the link. That’s old style clogging. I promise you will not be able to hold your body still. I just LOVE that music!!!!!
 
 
If you make a purchase through any of the Amazon links in this article, I make a few cents but your cost is not increased in any way.

After the Rain

 

My family loved to backpack in the high Sierras. One year, after a refreshing afternoon rain, my youngest child, about seven at the time, looked down at his feet and picked up something shiny. It was a perfectly formed arrowhead of black obsidian. Evidently the rain had washed it out from an ancient hiding place. What a treasure the rain revealed!

In Hawai`i, we have the saying “no rain, no rainbows.” Too often we concentrate on the rain and neglect an openness to the treasures afterward. What riches or inner resources have you discovered after the rains in your life?

Mahalo!

Kait’s Wedding

Kait and Matt
Kait and Matt

 

Exactly two months ago on October 17, my oldest granddaughter got married. Kaitlin Weiss became Kaitlin Brazil. I wasn’t able to go, but her Aunt Inga, my second daughter, was there to take pictures of the event.

 

This is a good opportunity to share some of that with you. I’ve cropped some of the pictures in order to show you specific people.

Following behind three wonderful older brothers, Kaitlin was a pleasant surprise to her parents. I know how Debbie must have felt to have all four of her children back home for this occasion.

 

When Kait was seven years old, she served as the flower girl at my second wedding. That beautiful young woman has come a long way since then.

 

Almost 35 years ago, as high school sweethearts, her parents got married. What fun it is to watch your children grow up and have grown children of their own.

 

California’s central valley has some wonderful places for a serene outdoor wedding.

 

I wish them well! They make a beautiful couple.

A hui hou!

Stanford Campus Addendum

 

I promise this will be the last post about the Stanford Campus, but there were so many beautiful sights there that I’m afraid I got carried away. For those of you who have never seen the campus, this will be something new. If you haven’t been there in a while, it will be a “remember when.”

Standing 285 feet high, the Hoover Tower (shown above) dominates the campus. It seems that no matter where you are, the Tower can be seen. President Herbert Hoover started a research center there and this tower is part of that institution.

I kept taking pictures of Hoover Tower, thinking each shot was better than the one before it. Here are only a couple of them for you.

 

Go here to see a great view of the campus from the Tower

Probably my enjoyment of the Stanford campus stems from my love of old buildings and homes, as well as campuses in general. The Old Fire Truck House (circa 1904) is one of those buildings full of character and still in beautiful condition.

 

The path in front of the Old Fire Truck House is such a luscious spot for sauntering – or biking.

 

Of course, there is a “new” fire truck house now, but it lacks the charm of the old one.

 

Near the Old Fire Truck House was this sign showing the way to the LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) Community Resources Center and Women’s Community Center. I was pleased to see both of these.

 

These maps give you a good idea of the vast area of the campus. The first one shows where Stanford is located in the San Francisco Bay Area of California.

 

This map shows the specific area in Palo Alto that is Stanford property.

 

If you click on the second map, a larger image will enable you to see the location of the quad area I wrote about a few weeks ago and also where the Hoover Tower stands in relationship to the rest of the campus.

The campus includes not only the educational buildings, but the beautiful old faculty homes from the early 1950s. I could move right into any one of them with great ease.

 

I especially liked this one that reminds me of a fairyland castle. And I could just imagine sitting around a fireplace, discussing deep subjects with a few students.

 

Here is one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s creations that now is the property of Stanford. It was the home of the provost until 1989.

 

Because this is mostly a blog about gardening, I couldn’t ignore all the horticultural beauty on the Stanford Campus. Palm Drive is one of the most spectacular roads into the campus that I have ever seen. A long sweep of road lined with palms is truly an amazing sight.

 

Large areas of brilliant poppies and other fresh blooms were everywhere.

 

Of course, the outstanding medical facilities of Stanford are well-known. Here is the Stanford Advanced Medicine Center.

 

The entrance to the Stanford Hospital and Clinics is sleek and modern.

 

In spite of all the glittering modern buildings, in spite of the charming old buildings, Stanford is still a typical college campus. This sight made me feel right at home!

 

A hui hou!

A Trip Around the Stanford Quad

 

It seems that most large universities, as well as some smaller ones, have a “quad.” When I was a campus minister at University of Arizona, there was a massive quad where students and faculty hung out, played Frisbee, studied, slept, nuzzled with someone special, or whatever else they could find to do.

For an old college instructor like me, being on the quad of any school is thrilling. From the moment I first set foot in a classroom as a teacher, from kindergarten through university, I have loved teaching and being on a campus, being a part of campus life. I think I’d be deliriously happy just hanging out in a university library doing research in musty old tomes.

My visit to Stanford University (guided by a friend who is a Professor Emeritus from the Medical School there) included their quad. He added to my limited knowledge of the campus.

As we approached the main building of the quad, I was drawn to the floral arrangement in the center of the vast lawn.

 

It wasn’t until I stood a little elevated and distant from the floral arrangement that I realize the flowers created a large “S” for Stanford. I wondered if everyone else who visits miss it at first like I did.

 

Everything about the Stanford campus has history behind it. A walk along the corridor of the main building takes us back more than a century.

 

One of the stones on the floor of the corridor commemorated the centennial.

 

Each graduating class added a stone showing the year. This is the first one, laid by the graduating class of 1892!

 

You can walk along the corridor and see a class for every single year since then. A nice tradition!

 

And here is the latest one – for the class of 2009.

 

One of the pillars shows some of the damage done by the Loma Prieta earthquake of October 17, 1989, almost twenty years ago. You can read more about it here and here.

 

Other news articles discuss the donations and work done to renovate the Stanford campus . . .

 

. . .and how it looked 15 years later.

That last link has excellent pictures and history of the quake, including more information about the World Series that had to be cancelled that day. To read about damage that is more specific to Stanford, go here.

One dominating attraction on the quad is the Memorial Church

 

This chapel was built by Jane Lathrop Stanford in memory of her husband, Leland Stanford in 1899.

 

This close-up shows the intricate and exquisite mosaic artwork.

 

Due to regular church services being held, visitors were not permitted to enter, so I took many shots outside. I loved this sign in several languages.

 

The courtyard of the chapel offers areas to stroll, rest, meditate.

 

The jacaranda were in full bloom in the chapel courtyard.

 

So many tucked away treasures like these side doors of the church.

 

Every detail was considered, as evidenced by this mosaic floor in the foyer of the chapel.

 

I have included a slide show below of all photos I took around the chapel, many more than are in this post. Today, I end with a shot of these marvelous sculptures near the chapel. In a few weeks, I will do another post that shows the individual statues and who they represent.

 

A hui hou!

http://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf

 

To watch a larger version of this slideshow, click here, then click on the large arrow.