Hole in the Clouds

Tag: (Image credit: Katrin Maldre)

The Chicago Open

Sep 21, 2009

In the small but earnest world of competitive badminton, the Chicago Open is a big deal, a tournament sanctioned by the body that will select the Olympic badminton team. Some of us forget that badminton is an Olympic sport.

Katrin Maldre is new to the competitive version of the sport and feared she wasn't yet playing at the Chicago Open level, but she took first place yesterday at this year's tournament. There were four divisions, from A, the strongest, through D, the weakest, and Katrin won the D division. Still, she noted, "the picture says it all."

What helped her compensate for badminton inexperience was a lifetime of athletic engagement. At the age of six, she was selected for intensive sports training by the Soviet athletic academy, and as a teenager she joined Estonia's national table tennis team, which competed in all the Soviet Republics across Europe and Asia. In recent years, she's played tennis, skiied, dabbled in recreational soccer, even tried a little bit of mountain climbing.

"There's just something magic about sports events," she says. "Also, while I play I don't eat, I get a lot of exercise, and I don't say any bad words, so I improve myself. And maybe that helps to improve the world a little bit."

sports   Chicago   badminton   Katrin Maldre   (Image credit: Katrin Maldre)  

Plate for sale

Jan 2, 2010

This plate was spotted at the antiques market alongside the Navigli canal in Milan. I'd like for somebody to buy it and take it to Antiques Roadshow so we can find out if the asking price was ridiiculously low or obscenely high or just right. Till then, we just don't know, do we?

Milan   Italy   (Image credit: Katrin Maldre)  

Goats or cows

May 19, 2010

You may recall that it was in the mountains here above the village of Maienfeld, Switzerland, that Heidi and Peter used to take the goats to pasture. The cows, which didn't really figure in the Johanna Spyri novel or in the Shirley Temple movie, presumably stayed down below in these pastures in the Rhine River Valley. Heidi and Peter climbed up the goat paths every morning, frolicked in the meadows, and lived happily ever after in the bright clean air, curing the invalid Clara, bringing the old hermit back to the church, and spreading joy and good cheer and etc.--even so, it was a nice book, a nice movie, and there's no denying it's a beautiful piece of the world.

 Today the people of Maienfeld mostly tend vineyards and host tourists looking for Heidi. An hour's walk up the valley is the spa town of Bad Ragasz, where tourists come looking for Roger Federer.

landscape   mountains   cow   Heidi   Switzerland   (Image credit: Katrin Maldre)  


Jul 12, 2012

The Moorish-style synagogue in central Sofia, Bulgaria, was built in 1909, when it served as the religious and cultural center for a Sephardic Jewish community of about 20,000. Today, the congregation numbers about 50. Bulgarian Jews were not executed by the Nazis, but almost all left for Israel after the postwar Communist takeover.

Sofia   Bulgaria   synagogue   (Image credit: Katrin Maldre)  

Long Ways from Home

Dec 1, 2013

We're on the road again, headed for faraway places–not Ragusa Ibla, the magical Sicilian place shown here, but the other end of the world, where it's summertime now and we get to dance at the wedding of another niece, Gillian, who is marrying Mark Openshaw next weekend near Wellington, New Zealand.

Hole in the Clouds will remain update-free for a little while, till we make it back home around December 18–bearing stories and pictures, perhaps, but certainly carrying with us some of the energy and glow generated by this sort of happy family occasion.

As for Ragusa Ibla–some other day. Right now, we've got penguins and albatrosses to attend to, and sheep and glow worms and waterfalls and those absolutely outstanding kiwi accents.

Meanwhile, y'all can go ahead and start the holiday season without us. We'll catch up soon.

New Zealand   Sicily   Ragusa Ibla   wedding nieces   (Image credit: Katrin Maldre)