Friday, October 31, 2008

And finally, Halloween

More Halloween creatures on this night of all hallows’ eve, or Samhain, the original Celtic festival Halloween came from.

The weather set just the right atmosphere for the day. As I drove to work this morning, it was dark, windy, and leaves from trees pelted the car, swirled throughout the streets, alleys, yards. Some large leaves looked like odd creatures bounding across the street.

By late afternoon, the wind had slowed, but it felt unusually warm, expectant under gray skies. And tonight, it was cloudy and dark as witches, wizards, skeletons, ghosts, black cats, fairy queens, elves, ewoks, Yodas, Darth Vaders, and others trekked through the neighborhoods in search of treats (including our house).

A few blocks from where we live is Harrison Boulevard, a major street lined with large houses and mansions, and beautiful trees in a center traffic island. The street has been a popular “treat” destination for many years, a Halloween tradition, and residents decorate to the max and buy candy by the case. Around 2,200 revelers trick-or-treat Harrison every year.

Although we have a good time handing out treats at our place, I wouldn’t want to have 2,000 revelers coming by. I like having the time and space to ask kids about their costumes -- and most them seem to like that, too.

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'Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world.
~William Shakespeare

Eat, drink and be scary.
~Author Unknown

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Meet The Count. He’s eagerly looking forward to tomorrow night, to greeting all the costumed visitors, checking them out to see who might be “suitable” for his “purposes”…

Of creepy creatures, vampire stories have been my favorite. Watched Count Dracula appear through Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, Frank Langella, Gary Oldman. Also read Bram Stoker, and later followed Anne Rice's Lestat and the mournful Louis as they haunted the streets of 19th century New Orleans, as well as other cities around the world.

Then there were “The Lost Boys” of the spooky southern California town of Santa Carla, where the carnival on the beach runs all night and people continually "go missing". Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the “Scooby Gang” came later, and now there are even more shows, movies and books about a plethora of new vampires and their foes.

Just like creatures of the night, vampire stories never really die…we won’t let them…

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

No bones about it

The second most popular Halloween decoration scheme in the neighborhood has to do with skeletons and/or skulls.

You’ve heard of skeleton keys; here are some skeleton jokes:

Q. Why can’t a skeleton lift weights? A. He’s all bone & no muscle.

Q. Who was the most famous skeleton detective? A. Sherlock Bones.

Q. What do the skeletons say before eating a gourmet meal? A. Bone appetite

Q. Why didn’t the skeleton dance at the party? A. He had no body to dance with.

Q. What do you give a skeleton for Valentine’s Day? A. Bone-bones in a heart shaped box.

Q. Who was the most famous French skeleton? A. Napoleon Bone-apart

Q. What instrument do skeletons play? A: trom-bone.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More spinning about spiders

Another Halloween spider…

Even though spiders can bring on arachnophobia for many people, they are a beneficial and necessary part of the ecological system, keeping the insect population under control.

Scientists are researching if venom from spiders can be made into a natural pesticide. They are also looking into medical uses for spider venom, including treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease, heart arrhythmia, and strokes.

Fried tarantulas are considered a delicacy in Cambodia; some Native tribes in Venezuela also dine on these large arachnids. (I think I’ll pass on these dishes…)

Many myths and legends about spiders have been spun through the centuries. Some are creation stories, such as how Spider Woman created the world. According to the Greeks, spiders themselves were created through a weaving competition between the goddess Athena and the princess Arachne. Of course, gods and goddesses aren’t very good losers, so when Arachne won (and gloated about it), she and her loom became the first spider.

The Japanese told stories about Tsuchigumo (Earth spiders) who were a group of beings that lived under the mountains. The ancient Egyptians saw spiders as a legacy of Neith, the goddess of weaving, who was said to have woven the world into existence on her loom.

Some Native American myths tell of Grandmother Spider who created everything through shining threads that came from her body. Another story says the constellation Ursa Major (the Big Dipper) came about because of seven men who climbed a spider’s web into the heavens in search of paradise, and became stars in the process.

And later, we have “Little Miss Muffet,” the “Itsy Bitsy Spider”, “Spider’s Web” (another song), the giant spider Shelob from Tolkien’s "Lord of the Rings", “Charlotte’s Web,” Aragog (one of Hagrid’s pets in the Harry Potter series), and Spider Man.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Spider dancing

Spiders and cobwebs seem to be “in” this year for Halloween decorations. Of course the spiders are either black widows or tarantulas, although some people find any spider rather scary.

As a kid, I recall playing a piano piece titled, “Tarantella”. Above the music was a drawing of a boy who was very ill, lying on a bed. He had been bitten by a tarantula (you could see the hairy culprit racing out of the room in the right hand corner). Because the doctor could not cure him, his desperate parents brought in musicians to play the Tarantula dance. As they played, the boy rose from the bed and began to dance. The musicians increased the tempo, playing faster and faster, and the boy danced so hard that he sweated the poison out -- and was healed (as shown by the second drawing of the boy dancing in jubilation).
So -- proof of the medicinal power of music.

Here’s what said about the Tarantella:

The "Spider Dance" or Tarantella is a wild erotic trance dance ritual from Southern Italy which has been used to cure the mythical bite of the tarantula. This form of ecstatic dance originated in ancient Greece as a rite of devotion to the god Dionysus (god of ecstasy and wine). The women involved in these rites were called Baccanti, and later TARANTATE, and they danced the PIZZICA TARANTATA (which means, "the bite of the spider tarantula", also called "the bite of love"). It is this bite of love that has driven people over the centuries, especially women, to dance in a wild frenzy in order to free themselves of repressed sexual desires.

This seems like a precursor to vampires, doesn’t it? Maybe we all should dance wildly a little more often…

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Beautiful things

Some beauty to start the new week, to remind us of beauty that not only can be seen – but experienced in other ways…

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The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched; they must be felt with the heart.
~ Helen Keller

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Patterns under construction

Another view of a new house.

Construction - synonyms:
building, edifice, structure;
creation, assembly, erection, formation;
interpretation, understanding, comprehension, meaning, explanation

Antonym: destruction

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Living a life is like constructing a building: if you start wrong, you'll end wrong.
~ Maya Angelo

The whole difference between construction and creation is exactly this: that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists.
~ Charles Dickens

Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction.
~ Pablo Picasso

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ramblings on a nightshade

They almost look like large beads from a distance.

But as you can see up close…


Romas and some other kinds, left after frost killed the plants. As long as they don’t rise up on Halloween night and haunt the neighborhood (a la Attack of the Killer Tomatoes). Wonder if squirrels like them? (They do eat small pumpkins)

According to Wikipedia: “It is thought that the Pueblo people believed that those who witnessed the ingestion of tomato seeds were blessed with powers of divination.”

Wonder if the ability of fortune tellers to foresee the future increases after a serving of tomatoes? Are there squirrels who can divine the future?

I wonder how many houses will be "decorated" by the art of tomato tossing on Halloween night?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fall is the artist

From colorful corn to colorful leaves. The trees and bushes seem to vibrate with color now, just spectacular! So bright and wonderful – takes your mind off of all the other stuff going on right now.

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October is a symphony of permanence and change.
~ Bonaro W. Overstreet

Fiery colors begin their yearly conquest of the hills, propelled by the autumn winds. Fall is the artist.
~ Takayuki Ikkaku

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I love the variety of colors of maize. Maize is ground into flour to make tortillas and is used in other food products. Some types of maize can also be popped to make popcorn.

Here’s a little more info about corn kernel colors from

Corn kernels have different colors because of genes that control color. Each kernel is an individual with its own set of genes, like an embryo. Kernels are siblings housed on the same ear and so naturally have many different colors. By naturally, I mean, through the course of natural selection. One-color ears are unnatural products of human selection.

So, corn has been "genetically engineered" for a long time to get the different varieties we have today. As have many other plants.

For another view of corn: The Legend of Indian Corn...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Best of all, Fall

A stream by the Hemingway memorial near Ketchum. The colors were just turning bright the day we were there.

The memorial sits on a ridge that overlooks a lovely valley area (part of which is now a golf course – oh well…)

Still, it’s quiet and beautiful with the rippling water, mountains, and trees.

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Best of all he loved the fall … the fall with the tawny and grey, the leaves yellow on the cottonwoods, leaves floating on the trout streams and above the hills the high blue windless skies.
~ Ernest Hemingway

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Aspen confetti

Aspen leaves dotting the walkway like colorful coins. Such the beauty of fall…

Heard Taj Mahal in concert this weekend. Excellent power-driving blues! And a fun show – besides being an amazing musician, he’s also a great entertainer on stage. Corey Harris, a phenomenal blues guitarist, opened the show.

And, I got a kalimba, also known as a thumb piano. Its bell-like tones are so beautiful… Playing it is an exploration, and meditative. More on that in future posts.

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As the wind gusted through the grove of golden aspens, she watched the leaves tremble and shake, imagined them ringing like small golden bells.
~ Anonymous

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A curious hole

Doing some virtual viewing of art exhibits tonight. MoMA has a great website where you can view a number of the exhibits online.

One of the shows you can see, titled Wunderkammer: A Century of Curiosities, features the unusual. Here’s what MoMA says about it:

Wunderkammern, or cabinets of curiosities, arose in mid-sixteenth-century Europe as repositories for all manner of wondrous and exotic objects. The works on display include prints, books, multiples, drawings, and photographs, with subjects ranging from architectural marvels and blueprints for impossible machines to oddities from the animal, vegetable, and mineral worlds.”

Another great online show is Van Gogh and The Colors of the Night. I’ve always loved night photos, night paintings, and some of my favorites, like The Starry Night, and The Starry Night over the Rhone, are in this exhibit.

Surfing over to The Met you can see The Essential Art of African Textiles: Design without End. The patterns seem to dance to colorful rhythms that aren't heard -- but felt in the heart.

Just a few ways to feed the curious…

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It often seems to me that the night is much more alive and richly colored than the day.
~ Vincent Van Gogh

Monday, October 13, 2008

Red chair

Seen on a Sunday, outside an architectural firm.

As a little girl, I remember rocking dolls in a small red wooden rocking chair. It had been my mother’s when she was a girl, and it was my favorite because it was red.

A few other references to red chairs:

“In the Red Chair,” a series of personal stories on DVD

Red Chair Antiques, Peterborough, NH

Red Chair Project, Orlando’s art and culture guide

Red Chair School of Performing Arts, in Burbank, CA

Red Chair Photography, Chicago, IL

So, if you’re blue, find yourself a red chair…

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Golden grasses

Golden grasses of Fall along the river trail.

If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things in nature have a message you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.
~ Eleanora Duse

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.
~ Walt Whitman

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Scenes before snow

I love the flaming colors of these trees. These shots are from our Ketchum trip last weekend.

We've since had a cold front move through, so the mountains have a lot more snow now.

We even had a couple of inches of snow in the "Banana belt" of Boise. The heavy wet snow stuck to the leaves on trees and bushes, and weighed down the branches. Huge branches broke off and fell on streets, sidewalks, yards. Today, the air buzzed with sounds of power saws as people cleaned up.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Our Lady of the Snows

This is Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church between Ketchum and Sun Valley. I’m told that Ernest Hemingway attended Our Lady of the Snows, although not in this building, which was built just a few years ago.

I really like the design of this church, at least from the outside. Next time we’re there, we’ll have to see if we can take a peek inside.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Scenic walk

More scenes from our trip to the Wood River Valley...

It is turning colder here now. They are predicting snow in the mountains by the weekend.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Fall in the mountains

We’ve been in Ketchum / Sun Valley area the past few days for a much needed getaway. Taking in art (including Picasso and Chagall) and shops, excellent food, long walks in town and by the river. The air was crisp, cool, filled with scent of pine. And the views were awesome…

I'll be sharing a few more photos from our trip during the next few days.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Time for a change of scene

It’s been a busy week, meeting people, visiting with friends, taking in a couple of art exhibits. And tomorrow, we’re heading out on a trip. A much needed change of scene.

A toast to good friends, good art, good news, and new vistas…