I recently happened upon the beautiful, timeless work of Maurice Sapiro, an accomplished photographer, painter and sculptor who calls Connecticut home. The images from his Europe gallery, circa 1956, are what captivated me: honey-toned scenes of Venetian gondoliers gracefully powering delicate boats across a lagoon; black and white images of Bavarians in frenzied celebration; silhouetted-figures spying London’s Tower Bridge under a veil of fog; and tiny figures standing among the lacy rivets of the Eiffel Tower. When I look at the photographs, they make me yearn to travel back in time. Perhaps that is why I enjoy Maurice’s gallery so much, for seeing its classic imagery makes me feel as though I have.
You may remember my having met German university student, Isabell Pfeufer, in late 2009. Introduced to her by a former colleague, I was invited to write a newspaper piece on Isabell’s experiences – as a blind student teacher – with a classroom of third-graders.
In the years following that interview, I’ve been delighted to have several chance meetings with Isabell on Heidelberg’s bustling Hauptstrasse, as she went about her errands and met up with friends.
Shortly before leaving Heidelberg for our Asian sabbatical, Shawn and I met with Isabell at a Heidelberg coffee house so that we could catch up. During our chat, Isabell talked about her dream to move to the United States to work with children or youth with special needs. Isabell is anticipating taking her final exams in October of 2012, so she still has a bit of time to find a position in an American city with a good public transportation system that will allow her to be independent.
Eat, Pray, Love ’s footprint is everywhere in Ubud, Bali, where the best-selling book’s author, Elizabeth Gilbert, spent her love chapter. From the plethora of single women who pound Ubud’s streets, to the clichéd tours and Balinese people who name-drop locals Ketut and Wayan, who were featured in the best-seller, the book’s influence is ever-evident.
Having heard what a character the spiritual healer Ketut Liyer is, Shawn and I thought it would be fun to spend a few moments with him.
In a black and white image, bordered in a simple silver frame on my piano, she is seated behind the wheel of a classic roadster. Coyly sporting a riding cap, cream-colored driving gloves, and her trademark smile is a woman who not only taught me arpeggios, flats and sharps, but about life, its remarkable coincidences and values that we should hold dear.
We first met in March 1987. I was nearly ten, and my piano-teacher to-be, Mrs. Erna Blonek, was 86. I remember thinking that the diminutive elderly woman, with wavy hair as white as snow, spoke with a funny accent. My mother later explained that Mrs. Blonek was originally from Czechoslovakia. Over time, I learned that she had been widowed in the 1960s and that she and her radiologist husband, František, had immigrated to the United States in the late 1930’s.