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First section of the mural


I’d say she’s a suffragette!

 mural3More Murals: Northampton, Mass 

We found this vast mural in the parking lot opposite Woodstar Coffee Shop, Northampton, Mass.

Too big to capture in one shot, it tells a fascinating story if you look at it carefully.

The title is The History of Women in Northampton from 1600-1980. The title seems very appropriate in many ways, as Northampton is the home of Smith College, a prestigious women’s college, also known as the college where women’s basketball was first played in 1892.

Information on the mural:

The History of Women in Northampton from 1600-1980mural4

Copyright Hestia Art Collective

Linda Bond, Mariah Fee, Susan Pontious, Rochelle Shicoff, Wednesday Sorokin

Restored 1986

Updated and restored in 2003

On a side note, two other firsts for this area: Nearby, in Holyoke, William G. Morgan invented the game of volleyball for men. It was in 1895 when he took the position as physical director at Holyoke. The newly-created game of basketball (created in Springfield, Mass), very popular with young people, was too strenuous for the local businessmen, so he decided to create a new sport. From basketball he took the ball. From tennis the net, and the use of hands from handball. From baseball he took the concept of innings. The game has evolved and changed since then, as has the ball. It soon became very popular worldwide.

It started as a competitive women’s sport in the 1920s, and at Mt Holyoke College in the 1970s.

Fun factoids!


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Exhibits at Chicago’s Cultural Center


Poster about the Wall of Respect


Old photo of the Wall of Respect

As mentioned earlier, this year is Chicago’s Year of Public Art and the 50×50 Initiative, sparked by Chicago’s 50 wards and the 50th anniversary of 2 famous public art works in the city: Picasso’s “Untitled” (see previous post), and The Wall of Respect.

The Wall of Respect is no longer in its original position but a special exhibition on it is in the Chicago Cultural Center until July 30th. The exhibition, called Vestiges, Shards and the Legacy of Black Power, is in the Chicago Rooms, 2nd Floor North in the Cultural Center (corner of Michigan, Randolph and Washington).


How the wall looked


The Blues panel


The Jazz panel

Curated by Romi Crawford, Abdul Alkalimat and Rebecca Zorach, and students in the Department of Art History, this exhibition chronicles how the Organization for Black American Culture designed and produced this first mural for, and within, Chicago’s Black South Side communities. It features 7 sections with the images of leading black icons (called heroes), ranging from Sarah Vaughan and John Coltrane to Marcus Garvey and Ossie Davis. Two of the panels are devoted to musicians—one for Blues, one for Jazz—not surprising, as Chicago has always been a hub for music, notably Blues and Jazz with many famous black artists.


Using photographs and documents relating to the Wall of Respect and other murals, this exhibition explores the mural movement in Chicago in its historical context, investigating how race and class have intersected with the spatial politics of the city.


Story of the Wall of Respect


Who is your hero today?

In 1967, the Organization of Black American Culture painted this huge mural “guerrilla-style” on the wall of a decaying building on the South Side of Chicago at 43rd Street and Langley Avenue. They called it the Wall of Respect. This mural, which grew out of the Black Liberation Movement of the 1960s, was controversial from the start and only survived a few years—but in that time it inspired a community movement that went on to paint vivid colors on walls across the city and beyond. The Wall of Respect received national acclaim when it was unveiled in 1967.

Just outside the exhibit rooms, the center has strips of colored paper. They invite people today to write down the names of their heroes and make a long paper chain—a Heroes Chain. Would be a fun project for school kids, I think.


Muddy2Not far away on the side of a building opposite Macy’s is a huge colored mural of Muddy Waters. I couldn’t find any information on that. Any ideas, anyone?

Somewhat linked to this topic is another exhibition at the Cultural Center: that of Eugene Eda’s Doors for Malcolm X College (see future post)


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Satoshi and Max enjoy the meal


Max helps cook the meat and vegetables

Sapporo is well-known for special Ghengis Khan grilled lamb meals and the principle places are run by big beer halls. The two main ones are at Sapporo Beer Garden, which I wrote about before (https://viviennemackie.wordpress.com/2016/10/23/japan-a-hokkaido-special-dish/ ) and the other is at the Kirin Beer Hall. Both Sapporo and Kirin are very popular Japanese beers.


Another marvelous meal!

On our final night in Sapporo this last trip, Satoshi booked us into the Premier Hotel. It’s in the Suskino area of town, where a lot of the nightlife is, so lots of neon lights, and really busy especially on a Saturday evening

For dinner that evening we went our for a Ghengis Khan meal again, somehow fitting, as we had Ghengis on our first evening in the city. The Kirin Beer Hall was within walking distance of the Premier Hotel, so very convenient.

Satoshi and Max took Rod and I and once again we had a lovely evening together and a


The grill is set down in the center of the table

great meal. Here, the grills are set out differently: they are set down a bit in the center of the tables. But, otherwise the concept is very similar: first, put on bibs to protect clothes, then cook plenty of vegetables and pieces of thinly sliced meat on the grill, using large tongs. Wash it down with plenty of beer and/or wine.

We also had a smoked hokke fish as a snack first. Over the years, Rod and I have come to really like hokke and Satoshi wanted us to have it “one last time”. Delicious and much appreciated.


Hooke is great

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What a magnificent creature

Championing Cheetahs in South Africa

Cheetahs—such lean and dignified, regal-looking, creatures.

The logo at Cheetah Outreach is: See it. Sense it. Save it.

You can still see a few cheetahs in the wild in southern Africa (and a small part of Iran) but the numbers are severely reduced (from an estimated 100,000 at the beginning of the 20th century, to about 6,600 today) and the threat of extinction hangs heavy.


Some people are about to begin a cheetah encounter


Various animal encounters are possible

So, on our last visit to the Cape in South Africa we were very happy to visit a new (to us) place called Cheetah Outreach. It’s in Paardevlei, on the south side of Somerset West (about 40 minutes from Cape Town airport), and is well worth a visit. Plan to spend a couple of hours, more if you’d like to do any of the animal encounters or if you stop to chat to any of the animal keepers, which you more than likely will do.

Entrance is R5 per person (less than US$0.50), regardless of age. You pay extra for the various animal encounters.


dogsignThe animals are in big grassy enclosures arranged in a rough oval around a central area, and in one of them there’s a viewing stand to watch the herding/guarding dogs. In the center grassy strip is a small mobile tea/coffee stand, where we had coffee and watched some visitors going into an enclosure nearby with a keeper and being entertained by the antics of the animal.

This is not a large place but seemed well organized and they are doing a great thing.



Black-backed jackal


Grace, the caracal

The focus is on the cheetahs but they have other animals too—meerkats, bat-eared foxes, caracals, serval, the special Anatolian Shepherd herding dogs, and jackals. There are paid staff, but they also have local volunteers and volunteers from around the world—we had one girl from Australia explaining things to us. The keepers are knowledgeable and tell lots of information about “their” animal, so it feels quite personal. We felt very privileged to see these animals up close and to find out their histories.


One of the bat-eared foxes waits for the keeper, who’s bringing food


The 3 foxes–Janet, Diggory and Firefox–rush to the gate


The keeper feeding the 3 bat-eared foxes

Cheetah Outreach was founded by Annie Beckhellig in January 1997 on a hectare of land (roughly 2.5 acres) provided by Spier Wine Estates. In the first year, the program reached more than 50,000 people, by traveling to educational facilities and other places with Shadow, a young male cheetah. It has successfully expanded and evolved since then.

The mission of Cheetah Outreach is “to promote the survival of the free ranging Southern African cheetah through environmental education and delivering in-situ conservation initiatives.”

Why is this necessary?

The cheetah is threatened with extinction for many reasons: loss of habitat and decrease in prey; presence of other large predators in protected areas, leading to competition for survival; conflict with livestock and game farmers; fragmentation of population, leading to inbreeding and number depletion; lack of self-sustaining captive population; public lack of knowledge.


Even young kids are fascinated by the cheetahs and other animals


This is either Lazarus or Liberty, the serval


And this is the other serval—Lazarus or Liberty?

This Cheetah Outreach is trying to address all of the above factors. School outreach and teacher training workshops are a major part of this, as are funding and co-ordinating a South African Cheetah Anatolian Shepherd Guard Dog project. These dogs are trained to guard livestock from cheetahs and other predators. Initially the dogs worked with sheep and goats, but recently the program has been extended to cattle and even on African game (mostly nyala and springbok) farms. The project helps with buying, breeding, veterinary support, and training of these working dogs, which will help in non-lethal predator control.


Black-backed jackal relaxing


Grace the caracal enjoys a snack

Another extremely important part of their program is using the cheetahs themselves as Ambassadors. Cheetah Outreach has hand-reared captive-born cheetah that are used for this. These lovely creatures can give people the opportunity to see and meet these cats up close, and to learn to care about them and their future. Not all cats are suitable for release back into the wild, but they do make great ambassadors! With the Ann Van Dyck Cheetah and Wildlife Centre, they train cheetah cubs as ambassadors for educational programs around the world. And in fact, some of the other animals are ambassadors too: the servals and meerkats, for example. For us, they could all be ambassadors!

On the way out you pass through a pretty good shop—cash only, but there is a handy ATM right there!


Information about the cheetah’s body, built for speed

 Fun Facts About Cheetahs

—the partnership between cheetah and man is ancient, dating from Cleopatra’s time. Ancient Egyptians believed that a cheetah would carry the pharaoh’s soul to the afterworld

—the cheetah is the oldest big cat on earth at 3.5-4 million years.

—the oldest fossil remains have been found in Wyoming, Texas and Nevada in USA

—the cheetah is the world’s fastest land animal. Its top speed is 110/120 km/h (68/75 m/h) and it can accelerate from 0-80km/h (50m/h) in 3 seconds (that equals the Formula 1 Ferrari in 1999).

–the cheetah’s stride is 7-8 meters (23-24 feet)servalsign

—an adult cheetah has over 2000 spots

—cheetahs are Africa’s most threatened great cat

Find out lots more about cheetahs and the Cheetah Outreach on their excellent website. Learn about the animals and see many photos.





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Abby the giraffe approaches


Holding the bucket of corn/maize


Giraffe candy!

Feeding a Giraffe in South Africa

This event made me think of the classic children’s book “If you feed a moose a muffin”. So…”If you give a giraffe a gift of corn”.

Only 23 km east of East London city center in South Africa is an unexpected surprise for the kids and for wild animal lovers—a small nature reserve called Areena. Areena is billed as a Riverside Resort, on the banks of the Kwelera tidal river. There are a variety of accommodations, a restaurant and pub, and all kinds of adventure activities (river cruises, kayak trails, mountain biking, abseiling, archery, horse-riding, zip-lines etc).



But what drew our hosts, Mike and Margie, to Areena were the wild animals—-wildebees, zebra, impala, ostrich. And especially the giraffe. The reserve has three giraffe and one is particularly tame as he was hand-reared because his mother was shot. They told us that it’s hard to tell the gender when giraffes are babies. They thought this baby was a female and named her Abby, but turned out she was a he!

At certain times of day a game ranger finds Abby


and brings him to a big open paddock and people can pay to have a Giraffe Experience. Our granddaughter (aged 6) was ecstatic to have this unusual opportunity to pat and feed a giraffe. Matthew the ranger helped her feed Abbey a bucket of dried maize (corn) kernels—giraffe candy! She was then able to stand on the fence and pat Abby. The rest of our party was pretty happy to have this experience too!

What a special adventure!


An almost giraffe “kiss”

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IMG_3973I’ve written about various animal parades before and the colorful fiber-glass creatures dotted around different cities—see here https://viviennemackie.wordpress.com/2016/03/18/animals-on-parade/ .

So, we were very interested to find one at Gateway Shopping Mall in Umhlanga Rocks in IMG_3974South Africa. Umhlanga Rocks is on the Natal coast just north of Durban and is in Kwa Zulu Natal Province. This cow is from a collection Cow Parade South Africa that was held in aid of the Childhood Cancer Foundation. This colorful cow has a very clever name: KowZuluNatal, a play on Kwa Zulu Natal, and is decorated with themes and icons from Kwa Zulu Natal.

The artist is Sibulele Mtshabe, and the cow was sponsored by The Scoin Shop and the SA Gold Coin Exchange.


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One of the many lovely vistas on the Mohawk Trail

This historic trail is on the US National Register of Historic Places and is perfect as a Weekend Getaway and to view Fall Foliage

The US boasts an incredible variety of different terrains and scenery, wonderful National Parks of all kinds, and many national treasures. To enjoy some of them, there are numerous great scenic drives, from coast to coast, past mountains, valleys, forests, canyons, coastlines: think of the Blue Ridge Parkway (Virginia, North Carolina), San Juan Skyway (Colorado), 17-mile drive (Carmel, California), the Overseas Highway (Florida Keys), the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1) in California past Big Sur, Route 66, and the Great River Road along the Mississippi River.


“Hail to the Sunrise” in Mohawk Park


Rod M and “Hail to the Sunrise”

These are the ones traditionally on the list of “most scenic drives” but you can find beautiful stretches of highway just about anywhere you look.

New England has numerous drives, especially lovely during the fall, and one such is the Mohawk Trail through the Berkshires in western Massachusetts. This large highland region is a broad plateau dissected by hills and peaks and cut by river valleys. Geologically very old, it’s linked to the higher Green Mountains of Vermont. The main North Berkshires region (according to the local map we got) is around the towns of Williamstown, North Adams and Adams.

We were there one weekend in October for a family wedding and found it


View from Whitcomb Summit Inn to the Elk statue

enchanting. It’s a very pretty part of the country and the fall colors were gorgeous. It’s not densely populated, with little towns strung out along the river valleys. It’s interesting to know that this is where Indian tribes used to live and hunt and that as we drive along the Trail we are, in a way, following in the footsteps of the first people in this area.


The Elk statue

The Mohawk Trail began as a trade route for the Native Americans of the Five Nations and connected Atlantic tribes with tribes in Upstate New York, hundreds of years before European settlers arrived. They used it to pass between the Connecticut and Hudson Valleys. It followed the Millers River, Deerfield River and crossed the Hoosac Range in the area that is now northwest Massachusetts.

These days, the Trail is part of Routes 2 and 2A, following much of the view2original Indian trail for about 69 miles, from Williamstown (home of Williams College) in the west, to Greenfield in the east. When it was incorporated in 1753, Greenfield was the northern frontier before the Canadian border. The Berkshire Mountains are easily visible from some places and many people think this is the most beautiful drive in Massachusetts. There are stopping points along the way, with scenic viewpoints, roadside attractions (notably the “Hail to the Sunrise Statue” at Mohawk Park in Charlemont—a tribute to this Native American heritage), and gift shops.


The famous hairpin bend


Golden Eagle restaurant at the hairpin bend

The Trail is very tourist-oriented now, but you can imagine those old traders passing through. The road is narrow and winding, and the multiple layers of rolling hills, ablaze with color at this time of year, are generally quite gentle, although there is a steep climb up to Mount Whitcomb, the highest point of the Trail at 2173 feet. On the western side of the summit is the popular hairpin bend and look-out at Western Summit (called Spirit Mountain by Native Americans) over the city of North Adams and to the Taconic Mountains. On the eastern side the highway descends steeply down the slope of the Hoosac Range, following the Cold River and then the Deerfield River. Note the “Elk on the Trail” statue at Whitcomb Summit.


Walking on the trail in Natural Bridge State Park

foliagesigncloseEach new vista around a sharp corner had us all “oohing and aahing”. The prettiest section (we thought) was between North Adams and east to Charlemont, where often the road is winding along the edge of the Deerfield River. If you stop at some of the roadside lookouts next to the gently gurgling river the sound of water is very soothing. The river is gentle now, but gets much fuller in spring and summer—full enough for tubing and whitewater adventures, popular pastimes. Many of the outdoor activities were not open now, as it’s out of season, although winter sports season will begin soon. In summer, camping, hiking, horse riding, fishing, zip-lining etc are offered. We passed a couple of ‘Bear Crossing’ signs, and wondered how often bears are still seen around here.

It’s a spectacular drive, always lovely I’m sure, but especially now. We tried to absorb the scenery, to imprint it on our minds, as we know it’s fleeting and will be gone in a few weeks. Perhaps it’s that transitory/fleeting element that makes it even more precious.


Part of the gorge in Natural Bridge State Park


Rod M pointing out part of the natural arched stone bridge

Besides the recreational and nature possibilities and fall foliage tours, the Berkshires (Hills or Mountains) are popular with tourists because of the vibrant visual and performing arts and music scene. There are a number of good museums (for example, MASSMoCA in North Adams); performing arts institutions like Tangelwood; America’s first and longest-running dance festival, “Jacob’s Pillow”; and it’s the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, to name but a few.

The name Berkshires came from Sir Francis Bernard, the Royal Governor in office 1760-1769, who named the area “Berkshire” to honor his home county in England.

Besides the Native American history, this area has other interesting


Susan B Anthony Birth House in Adams

historical tidbits. For example, during the American Revolution, a Continental army force under Henry Knox brought captured cannons from Fort Ticonderoga by ox-drawn sleds south along the west bank of the Hudson River from the fort to Albany, where he then crossed the Hudson. Knox and his men continued east through the Berkshires and finally arrived in Boston. This feat, known as “the Noble train of Artillery” was accomplished in the dead of winter, 1775-1776.

NAdamssignAdams is also the birthplace of Susan B. Anthony (in 1820), the famous suffragette, and you can visit her birth house.

If you only have a few days, here’s what we suggest.

Where to Stay:

—at the Whitcomb Summit Retreat, 229 Mohawk Trail (about 15 minutes out of North Adams, and just next to the Elk statue). You can easily drive to places from there. www.whitcombsummitretreat.net Their logo is “stay at the top” and the views out are spectacular.

—or you could stay in North Adams at the Holiday Inn, 40 Main Street.

Where to eat In North Adams?

A good breakfast place is Renee’s Diner, 780 Massachusetts Ave (on


Brewhaha Cafe

FaceBook). A lovely coffee shop is Brewhaha, 20 Marshall Street (on FaceBook).

We had excellent meals at Public Eat and Drink, 34 Holden Street in North Adams (www.publiceatanddrink.com ), and at the Golden Eagle, right on the famous hairpin bend, at 1935 Mohawk Trail (www.thegoldeneaglerestaurant.com ). MASSMoCA has a café, called Lickety Split, and a restaurant called Gramercy Bistro.

What to Do:

First, do the drive between North Adams and Charlemont and stop to visit the “Hail to the Sunrise” statue, a memorial to the Mohawk Native Americans, sponsored by the Improved Order of the Redman. Also stop at the Elk Memorial on Whitcomb Summit.

If you have a clear day, visit the Natural Bridge State Park, just outside of North Adams. It’s an easy, pretty walk and well worth the view of the only natural water-eroded marble bridge in North America, created by the Hudson Brook. It’s about 550 million years old, and is 30 feet wide, spanning a chasm about 60 feet deep.

Drive a little south to Adams and visit the Susan B Anthony Birthplace Museum, 67 East Road, Adams, www.susanbanthonybirthplace.org




An amazingly detailed mural

In North Adams, visit MASSMoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, the largest Contemporary Art Museum in USA), and then check out the colorful murals on the wall nearby, on the underpass of Route 2.

A must-see is the Western Gateway Heritage State Park, right in the center of North Adams. This freight yard district has been restored and has a variety of historical attractions, including an exhibit on the building of the Hoosac Tunnel.

North Adams was a railroad and manufacturing hub, using power generated by the Hoosic River (producing textiles and shoes), with many huge old mill buildings (MASSMoCA is in the largest now). Many of the others have been converted into art spaces, galleries, and little shops (most closed during winter).

North Adams has a Fall Foliage Festival at the end of September/beginning of October, and there’s a Farmer’s Market on Saturdays, close to the MASSMoCA.



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