Sunday, May 26, 2019

Yellow Gloves, Yellow Dye

No, this was not staged. Yellow is a common color for rubber gloves and I just happened to walk into the tent when a students were working with yellow dye. I love the line of yellow hands. This moment happened at the Quilt & Surface Design Symposium a few years ago.  We no longer need a tent for "messy classes." The symposium starts tomorrow and I can't wait to discover what colorful and surprising scenarios everyone will stir up.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

May Roses

With so many flowers to choose from, I used to think that roses were a cop-out. Particularly the stiff-stemmed pointy-petaled almost scentless hybrid tea roses. Over the years, I met the rest of the rose family: untidy antique varieties that scramble up walls, David Austin-style roses shaped like teacups packed with petals, wafting heavenly perfume, and hardy neighborhood roses in neglected yards on broken fences, still determined to bloom. Five-petal roses like these pink ones often fall into the family known as dog roses. They are considered invasive in some parts of the world. This type of rose is what you see in heraldry. It represented both families involved in the Wars of the Roses; red for Lancaster and white for York. I'll take the pink ones and enjoy them while they are blooming.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Mauve Pansies

After the daisy, the rose and the daffodil, what other flowers are children most likely to be able to identify? I'd say the pansy is a likely candidate, with their distinctive petals forming little faces. They grow in a vast range of colors, some dramatically splotchy and contrasty, others quiet and subtle, like this ravishing patch, in shades that would grace a Victorian lady's gown. How can sibling blooms sprung from the same seed show off so many different colors and markings? "Pansy" derives from the french "pensee." As Ophelia said "And there is Pansies—that's for thoughts."

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Bathing Bird

A bird bath nestles between the flowering shrubs in the Smithsonian’s Ripley Garden. It's a popular place. I watched this guy for a good five minutes, flapping his wings, ducking his head under the water,  splashing droplets in all directions. He knew I was watching and stopped a time or two to stare at me, with a look that said "This is MY garden and MY bath so Whatsitooya??" Then he flew off, leaving another shower of  shower of droplets in his wake.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Irregular Carrots

As children we quickly develop standardized images of things. An apple is roundish and red. A carrot is long and orange...except when they are not. One of the delights of going to the farmers market is discovering yellow-green apples with brownish-red speckles, or red, yellow and purple carrots ranging from short and stout to thin as asparagus stems. But even at the farmers market, some things get relegated to a discount bin. Last week, it was the carrots that were too odd or unattractive to go in the usual bags. Some looked like half-formed animals with tails. The two-legged ones seemed distinctly human. I am pretty sure that there is a children's story waiting to be written about these carrots, explaining what happens when they come to life, then scurry out of this bin.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Artist Sketching Notre Dame

Some years ago, we spent a week in a small hotel near Place St Michel. Notre Dame was an ever-present sight and an orientation point as we explored the crooked medieval streets of "our neighborhood." We had the luxury of going inside on a whim to view the stained glass windows in the morning and in the afternoon, enjoying each window when it glowed the most beautifully. We watched tour groups gather, then march into the cathedral and marveled at chic women in high heels, bicycling across the cobblestones of Place Parvis. One afternoon this gentleman sketched the flying buttresses of Notre Dame. Oh how I wished to join him on that fine sunny day. Now the scene is different. The story of Easter is one of triumph over death. I hope that Notre Dame de Paris will somehow be reborn.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Photographing the Cherry Blossoms

The people who take photos during cherry blossom season fall into two distinct categories: those wielding cell phones and those loaded down with big cameras with heavy lenses. The phone-wielders tend to be more interested in taking selfies than actually looking at the cherry blossoms  I like to follow the big-camera guys. It’s fun to watch them check out every blossom-laden branch. They are happiest when a memorial or monument is perfectly framed in artistically drooping branches. Here’s to the folks who are keeping the camera shops in business. May all their photographs be in focus.