Sunday, October 23, 2016

Unusual Barriers

"What the heck ARE those things?"  Sometimes I can almost see the thought balloons containing those words floating over the heads of tourists. In parts of Washington DC close to the Capitol or the White House, these bellows-like security features can be found at the entrances to underground garages,  making it impossible to drive in. They remind me of accordions gone awry or giant fireplace bellows being birthed from the concrete. They spend most of their lives unnoticed, compressed flush with the sidewalk so there is an element of surprise. The bright yellow color scheme gives them an unintentional air of whimsy. Lord knows we can all use a little whimsy in our security features.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Unfortunate Bank Sign

We've all seen signs like this one, where the light has burned out on part of it, creating an inadvertently humorous typo. I still regret never stopping to capture an image of the Goodyear tire store's sign that, for a couple of years, said "Goo ear." A neighborhood grocery store had an unlit letter O for so long that shoppers still refer to the store as the "Fod Star." A bank cannot afford to have a partly-lit sign for long. It implies a lack of attention to detail. Burned-out letters also imply a lack of funds. Happily, this sign was fixed quickly, but the image still makes me chuckle.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Bloomed Out Perennials

The days are getting shorter and the perennials that made it through the summer are getting seedy. Literally. This is a good thing. I have seen goldfinches perching on my neighbor's coneflowers. They were most likely looking for a palate cleanser before returning to the sunflowers down the street. There is an odd beauty in these flowers as they undergo inevitable changes. Petals turn dusty shades of mauve, then become gray, then almost black before they drop. Those are Victorian mourning colors, worn in reverse order by the coneflowers. Winter is coming but the coneflowers will rise again in the spring.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Dream Garden, Switzerland

There are places in the world where, late in the season, you can easily discover a lush, colorful dream of a garden. Our weather has finally turned cooler. A few days of rain and mist are greening up the crispy crabgrass in the side yard. The ambient light reminds me of a cottage garden glimpsed one misty day in Switzerland. It was tidy and colorful. The Swiss are proud of their asters---so many asters, in every color, size and type, standing tall amidst the roses and chrysanthemums. I feel so lucky to have seen it. Now it is in my head forever, the perfect fantasy of a cool weather garden.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Rookwood Fountain, Withrow High School

For ninety-six years, students have walked past the Rookwood fountain that sits between the front steps and the tower of Cincinnati's Withrow High School. Rookwood was a local business, famed for their art pottery and tiles. For most students, the fountain was just...there, bubbling away as they came and went. I was lucky to have six years to study that fountain and sketch the astrological symbols. I looked at it so often that it's easy to recognize those exact shades of blues, greens and golds when they appear on vases or tiles in antiques shops. Something like a fountain may seem extraneous when planning a school these days.  Everyday art, right there where you live or work or go to school  is important. It can get in your head and stay with you for the rest of your life.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Ohio Corn Field

Traveling south from Columbus, the land flattens out and the sky becomes more spacious. In the late afternoon light, even the cornfield edging a rest stop takes on a seductive golden glow. The stalks rustle and ripple in the breeze. As cars whiz past, headed toward the hillier and more populated regions around Cincinnati, it's a reminder of the slower, more rural life that almost everyone lived not long ago. 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Pentagon Memorial View

On a day as brilliantly blue as that one fifteen years ago, I stood with my back to the Pentagon and looked out beyond the rows of memorial benches to the Air Force Memorial up the hill. This is the trajectory that flight 77 took on that terrible day. If those three soaring arcs had existed then, the plane would have taken them out. All is calm and somberly peaceful among the Pentagon Memorial’s benches, each with a name. We will look at them, pay our respects, then look to the beautiful sky, ever changing but always there. We will remember.