Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Slovenia or Bust!!

So the other week I started reading guidebooks about European countries in order to prepare myself mentally for all of the awesomeness I am going to see when I move to England in 10 months.  I went through the biggies, the British Iles, France, Germany/Austria/Switzerland, Scandenavia, etc. (Italy is PARADISE and I already know by heart, so no need to consult a guide book there...), and I finally found myself confronted with Eastern Europe.  I've heard Prague is the next big fad, and I have a roommate who served a mission in Poland and LOVES it, and I probably need to go to Romania to perfect my budding Romanian language skills, however I just wasn't getting excited over Eastern Europe.  There were interesting things to do mentioned in the guidebook, of course, but were they really worth choosing over another trip to Paradiso?  (Seriously, in my 2 years living in England, I plan to spend a SIGNIFICANT amount of time in my soul's birthplace--Italia).  So there I was, having thoughts only slightly more than apathetic in nature about Eastern Europe, when my guidebook turns to Slovenia.  Literally after about 3 sentences, I was hooked.  Apparently it is the perfect mixture of Austria, where so many of my ancestors come from and therefore I feel a particular connection to that country, and Italy (I think we've established my feelings on that subject).  For like 3 days I was envisioning great things that would come from a lovely little trip to this newly discovered delight.  And then a Most. Amazing. Thing. happened.
My mom was visiting over Thanksgiving break, and while she was here we delved into some family history research.  I've made the goal to find out which cities in Europe my ancestors have come from, so that I can visit these places while I'm living in Europe.  I had identified each of the countries (presumably) that my family came from, but I needed to dig deeper and find out which cities they were from.  There was one particular individual I was looking at, my great-great-grandmother Antonia Benegalia (married name Sperl), who was born in a "Borbek, Austria" which doesn't really exist.  This may reference a neighborhood in Oberhausen, Essen, Germany, however that part of Germany was never part of the Austria Empire so I don't even begin to know what Borbek, Austria might reference.  In order to try and solve this mystery, I looked at her Ellis Island immigration records.  On said records, I found another Benegalia family, also born in Borbek and traveling to Wyoming.  A quick search of the Ellis Island database led me to find 2 other Benegalia families born in Austria and traveling to Wyoming.  I learned that there were 3 brothers and 1 sister (Antonia).  The most astounding piece of information I learned though, was that despite the fact that these families put Austria as their birth country, many of them claimed their ethnicity as....SLOVENIAN!!  What are the odds??????  Technically at this point in history, Slovenia was a part of the Austrian Empire, so it totally makes sense!
I feel like I've inherited quite a bit of Slovenian in my gene pool.  For example, my guidebook talks about how Slovenians are excellent at learning multiple languages, even compared to the rest of Europe who all seem to be born speaking like 3 languages fluently.  That's definitely a talent I've inherited.  Also one of the brightest moments of Slovenian history was when Napoleon took them over and was setting up the capital city to be a big deal, so they look kindly on the world dominator that most people seem to regard as evil.  I also have had a long present secret fascination with Napoleon.  Slovenia has beautiful geography, and having grown up in Oregon there is nothing I appreciate more than decent nature (no California, you do not meet my standards, thank you for asking).  They have the Alps, and the famous Lake Bled, and some amazing caves, and they are part of the Adriatic Coast as well.  Did I mention that Slovenia was also once controlled by Venice, and that 15% of the population still speak Italian as their first language?  Yep, definitely my sort of country.  I have discovered my Motherland for sure.  Slovenia or Bust!!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Great Debate: The Sunday Outfit

Many Sunday mornings right before I head out the door, I look in the mirror and think to myself:  "Daaannnggg, I look AMAZING!"  And this is not me giving myself a pep talk, trying to boost my self-esteem, I actually do think this about myself.  However, 3 hours later as I come home from church, my thoughts are usually more along the lines of "What the heezy?  Why does no one else even know that I exist and am ridiculously attractive???  I should have gotten at LEAST 50 compliments today on my overwhelming beauty..."  This actually probably says quite a few things about my pride level, but we'll leave that topic for a different day.
So the debate every Sunday is this:  sleep in an extra hour and arrive to church only decent looking, or get up that extra hour and look Fabulous, with a capital F.  The problem probably stems from the fact that at this particular moment in life, there is no one worth dressing up for (though honestly, I'm much more of the camp from the Mormon Pride & Prejudice where in the end the one crazy girl ends up writing a book titled something akin to "I Look Good for Me and My Girls", as in boys don't notice all of the ridiculous things girls do to make themselves look uber beautiful, so when one dresses up it should be for your own benefit, and not for a guy).  So, I have no real motivation to look gorgeous each Sunday morning, yet every Saturday night I set the alarm one hour early, just in case it will finally be the Sunday I get compliments from the opposite gender.  (Once in my 2 1/2 years here in Paly I did get a compliment from a guy on my hair.  It was lovely.  It wasn't like I was fishing for a compliment from him either since a) he's already dating someone and b) in the past I spent quite a few years secretly, madly in love with his younger brother in another state, so that would be awkward to be attracted to him as well.  But it is always lovely to have a guy compliment you, no matter who he is.  Coincidentally, this same guy is probably the only guy in my ward that I think of as intelligent and able to recognize things that are virtuous, lovely or of good report).
I've noted of late that our society is losing the habit of compliments (Relief Society is the one exception to that, girls always notice how awesome we all look and we all let each other know).   I suppose in this singles ward it can be intimidating to just throw out compliments willy-nilly, because people are so over-reactionary and obsessed when it comes to dating, and someone might take a compliment to an extreme and think the other person is ready to marry them if they happen to like the necklace they are wearing that day (not that any opinion I have about dating should be taken seriously.  In the past 13 years since I was 16 and therefore eligible to date, I have been asked out on a total of 3 dates, never once a second date.  So any statement I make about dating should probably automatically be taken as the wrong opinion).  But seriously.  Why can't we just say more nice things to each other?
Even if the words themselves are hard to say, perhaps we could do better at letting our actions or body language convey the message.  I have a friend who is ever so excellent at that.  Probably because he is British, and the British have a dislike of expressing their feelings.  So instead of saying things like "You're beautiful, you are an amazing baker and I am so glad we are friends," he instead will take the time to shower after a long day of herding llamas and speed to my place of work in his convertible Porsche right before we close  just to pick up an extra cookie from a batch I made for my coworkers, with the decency to give a shy smile and blush when I see him walk in.  Just because he unfortunately isn't secretly, madly in love with me and therefore will never ask me out doesn't mean he can't make me feel great about myself, and act like it is an honor to be able to associate with me.
Not that I can really complain about the mote in others' eyes, because I'm definitely in the antisocial camp at church, and should take my own advice about talking to more people.  Well, boys at least.  I think I do a pretty good job at telling other girls in my ward how nice they look, and if I am super envious of their amazing skirt or shoes, and how I with I could do whatever they did with their hair too.  I can get better about complimenting guys' tie choice for the day.  Or how awesome they polished their shoes.  I hate when boys get haircuts, so I probably won't compliment that.  But I should get better at noticing nice things about people, and letting them know.  In the wise words of the great Josh Groban, "And all these words you were meant to say, Held in silence day after day, Words of kindness that our poor hearts crave, Please don't keep them hidden away."

Monday, November 12, 2012

Stanford Cantor Art Museum

The last post I have about museums I've been to is the Cantor Art Museum on Stanford Campus.  It didn't have anything famous (minus the MASSIVE Rodin collection, of course), but it was a lovely little museum.  My favorite part is that it had a tiny bit from every culture, so I got to see a lot of Native American, African and Oceanic art that I had never been exposed to before, so that was really cool.  I also really liked the section dedicated to the Stanford family.  I hadn't heard before the story of the family and how the school was founded, and I thought that section of the museum was really cool.  The only painting I remember really loving was a Napoleon painting, but I don't remember what it was called, and as I looked through the online collections I couldn't find it.  But here are some other cool things from the museum:

Rodin--Gates of Hell

Gericault--Passage du Saint Bernard

House post from Native Americans in Canada

Rodin--Bust of Victor Hugo

Rodin--Iris Awakening a Nymph

Rodin--The Kiss

Emile Auguste Carolus-Duran--Leland Stanford, Jr.

Medallion of General Bonapart

Rodin--Three Shades

China tea pot

Friday, November 9, 2012

Boston Museum of Fine Arts

Me and Julia stopped by this museum when we were out visiting Boston together.  I think at this point in our day we were pretty tired, and weren't super interested in a lot of the stuff, though it is pretty neat.  I think we enjoyed other Boston-y things a lot more than the museum, but it's still cool.

Here's the good stuff:

Bishandas--Birth of a Prince

Head of King Tut

 Renoir--Dance at Bougival

Sully--Passage of Delaware


Head of Aphrodite

Cezanne--Madame Cezanne in Red Armchair

Van Gogh--Portrait of a Post Man

Emperor Huizong--Ladies Making Silk

Dragon Ascending the Heavens

Under the Wave off Kanagawa

Monday, November 5, 2012

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de Buenos Aires

I went to this museum on P-Day on my mission.  Honestly the only thing that I actually remember from the museum was Rodin's Kiss, which from that instant became my favorite sculpture of all time.

The rest of the paintings though didn't really impact me all that much.  I do remember seeing a lot of famous names, and being awed by the fact that I was actually seeing stuff by famous people, but I can't say I loved the paintings all that much.  I did like a lot of nature pieces, which I found out later where mostly done by Pueyrredon:

Bosque de Palermo

Costa del Rio de la Plata

Paisaje (Suiza)

Paisaje de la Costa (San Isidro)

Manuelita Rosas

Malharro also had some nature scenes that were enjoyable, Paisaje and Las Parvas

The rest of these are by famous people that I probably should have cared more about:

Degas--Deux dauseuses jaunes et rosa

Courbet--Julieta Courbet a la edad de 10 anos

Van Gogh--Le Moulin de la Galette

Pisano--Santa Conversacion

Gauguin--Woman by the Sea

Rubens--Sagrada Familia con Santa Isabel

Manet--Surprised Nymph

Carcova--Naturaleza en silencio

Gallaria Dell'Accademia in Venice

This was one of my favorite museums!  It actually didn't have any really famous pieces or anything, but there were so many amazing paintings in this museum.  I actually can't even remember most of my favorites, and because they weren't big or important I can't find them on the internet.  But here are a few things I could find on the internet that I did see:

Tintoretto--Miracolo di San Marco


Da Vinci--Study for Madonna with Yarnwinder

Da Vinci--Vetruvian Man

Memling--Portrait of a Young Man

Mantegna--San Giorgio

Veronese--Cena nella Casa di Levi

Brera Museum in Milan and Capitoline Museum in Rome

The Brera Museum in Milan was really quite lovely.  Not a big name museum necessarily, but it had quite a few great pieces:

Caravaggio--Supper at Emmaus

Raphael--Marriage of the Virgin

Mantegna--Lamentation of Christ

Hayez--The Kiss

Rubens--Last Supper

The Capitoline Museum in Rome had mostly sculptures, but they were great!


She Wolf of Rome

Dying Gual


Head of Augustus

Marcus Aurelius