Tag: history

On watching The Crown

My partner was a little bit unintentionally dismissive when I told him how much my girlfriends and I have enjoyed watching The Crown. It was something like “Oh, you enjoy the pretty settings and costumes?” And I hadn’t considered why I enjoy watching it, but

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The weight of personal history

The trouble with having such a deep knowledge of my family history is I find I must bite my tongue when my kids speak casually of their interests. I have no desire to bog them down with the weight of our history. When my kid

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Family rumors and famous wine

It’s Holocaust Remembrance Day. You’ll recall I had a grandmother who escaped a concentration camp. In my historical digging I’ve learned of other tantalizing bits of family lore but it seems as though stories are getting mixed together and I am having trouble separating fact

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Geechee people and slavery past

I wrote a bit about my experience with transient agricultural workers as well as the time I worked as a tour guide in the South Carolina Lowcountry, so you already know about some of my southern ways. It was my privilege as a teenager living

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I forgot about American Thanksgiving coming up. Perhaps because nothing could top our photo from last year. [Faux puritans. Thanksgiving 2012, Auckland, New Zealand.] The fact that I’ve been re-reading The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell was a mere coincidence. This is a terrific read

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I’m a time traveler

In America, I was an awkward child. It’s because I’m a time traveler. Opera singers, more than many other artists, spend their entire professional lives immersed in the artistic product of people long dead. They inhabit roles created centuries ago. They’re meant to breathe life

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My maternal great-grandfather had many hobbies. One of the things he was known for was his horsemanship skills. Hector Lasserre was a small man even for his time and he did well for himself as a gentleman jockey. [Hector on the left with his father

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Grand-mère kicks ass: tales of World War II

I have few war heroes in my family of creative types, but the one most decorated got her medals in an unusual manner. As part of my ongoing memoir project, I’ve researched the concentration camp where my grandmother was imprisoned. She was running messages for

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What is “operatic” material?

I’m a big reader and this week I enjoyed Nuiala O’Faolain’s The Story of Chicago May. [‘Chicago May, one of the few notorious women in the male-dominated rogues’ gallery of American criminals.’] The Story of Chicago May  is a biography by an Irish author about

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Anniversary of the Titanic in song

I am lucky to be a part of a fundraising effort around the commemoration of the 100-year anniversary of the Titanic catastrophe. The recital will feature pieces from the actual songbook that was known to have been enjoyed onboard during that fateful trip. Even though

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