Friday, May 30, 2008

Entering the silence of iris

Irises are in full bloom now; delicate petals in myriad colors, their gentle scent. This deep red is one of my favorites.

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Since Iris is the Greek goddess for the Messenger of Love, her sacred flower is considered the symbol of communication and messages. Greek men would often plant an iris on the graves of their beloved women as a tribute to the goddess Iris, whose duty it was to take the souls of women to the Elysian fields.
~ Hana No Monogatari: The Stories of Flowers

All artists dream of a silence which they must enter, as some creatures return to the sea to spawn.
~ Iris Murdoch

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Rain song

Sat on the front steps, sketching with a black pen as the storm moved in. Rain peppered the sidewalks, bushes, trees. Amid gentle thunder and occasional flashes of lightning, a Mourning Dove sang.

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The Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) is a member of the dove family Columbidae. The bird is also called the American Mourning Dove (named for its plaintive call) or Rain Dove.
~ Wikipedia

Let the rain kiss you
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops
Let the rain sing you a lullaby
The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk
The rain makes running pools in the gutter
The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night
And I love the rain.
~ April Rain Song, Langston Hughes

Monday, May 26, 2008

Stormy weather

We’ve had stormy weather for several days now, usually in the afternoon. Tonight, we finally were able to take a walk.
Everything clean, wet, fragrant. Birds singing. Swallows circling and swooping overhead. Mourning dove’s call echoing through the neighborhood. Mood of spring.

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Can’t go on, ev’ry thing I had is gone
Stormy weather
Since my man and I ain’t together,
Keeps rainin’ all the time
-Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler

Stormy days remind me of this song, which has been performed by so many over the years. Ethel Waters first sang it at the Cotton Club in Harlem in the 1930s. Later, Lena Horne sang it in the movie, "Stormy Weather," which was loosely based on the life of Bill Bojangles Robinson, innovator and supreme master of tap dance. This film has an amazing dance scene by the Nicholas Brothers; also has performances by Cab Calloway and Fats Waller. Fred Astaire later said the dance sequence by the Nicholas Brothers was "the finest piece of tap dancing ever filmed."

Orange twilight

Another extraordinary sunset to share...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Bright beauty

A bit of bright beauty in a basket to carry us through the summer.

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The temple bell stops
but I still hear the sound coming
out of the flowers.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Water art

Do you love waterfalls? This summer, New York City will offer views of waterfalls extraordinaire. Scandinavian artist Olafur Eliasson will install 4 waterfalls at various sites along the East River, including one at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge. The falls will be between 90 to 120 feet high and will be illuminated after sunset.

Check out this site for more details:

Since a trip to NYC is not in my plans this summer, I’ll settle for a smaller version of water art at the Nature Center…

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Leisure is a form of silence, not noiselessness. It is the silence of contemplation such as occurs when we let our minds rest on a rosebud, a child at play, a Divine mystery, or a waterfall.
- Fulton J. Sheen

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Underlying definitions

A quirky find while taking a walk after a storm.

I’ve worn culottes, but don’t think of them as "briefs", which are defined as:

++ Short, tight-fitting underpants; men's or women's underpants without legs.

So, I looked up "culottes":

++ A woman's full trousers cut to resemble a skirt. Often used in the plural. [French, breeches, diminutive of cul, rump or backside, from Latin cūlus.]

And "sans-culottes" also came up:

++ Literally, ‘without breeches’. A term loosely applied to the lower classes in France during the French Revolution. The name was derived from the fact that these people wore long trousers instead of the knee breeches worn by the upper classes.

When I looked up ropa interior, (Spanish translation: underclothes), links for Victoria’s Secret and other similar stores popped up. Olé!

But what’s really impressive is that this underwear features "the NEW AZS (Advanced Zoning System) for maximum targeted absorption."

I guess it was only a matter of time before underwear, too, went hi-tech… :-)

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Politicians, like underwear, should be changed often, and for the same reasons.
-P.J. O’Rourke

I do not believe in an afterlife, although I am bringing a change of underwear.
-Woody Allen

Monday, May 19, 2008

The wonder of a sunset

Sunset sweeps over Camel’s Back Park.

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When I admire the wonder of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in worship of the Creator.
~ Mahatma Gandhi

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Music, water & fish

A Saturday of walks, sitting in a coffee shop and sketching (yes, some chores, too); later doing colored pencil drawings to the music of Fats Waller and Pedro Luis Ferrer (amazing Cuban musician who has been underground all these years because the Castro régime banned his music). Because it was hot today (in the mid-90s), the weather conjured dreams of water and fish…

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Water which is too pure has no fish.
~ Ts'ai Ken T'an

Someone said wisely that "art does not give responses to those who do not ask questions of it." I offer my art to audiences who ask questions of art.
~ Pedro Luis Ferrer

Friday, May 16, 2008

Squirrel tales

This little guy was so intent on eating and so used to humans I could take photos of him up close. There are a lot of tall, old trees in the neighborhood, which make perfect hang-outs for squirrels. So, we have a lot of them skittering around.

Last October, I put out several miniature pumpkins on our front step to decorate for Halloween. One by one, they began disappearing. Finally I happened to catch a glimpse of the thief, a brazen squirrel, sitting on our porch roof munching away on a pumpkin.

A gal I work with is an animal lover and puts out food for squirrels at her house. One day she’d bought a large bag of peanuts for the squirrels on her way to work and left it on the back seat of her car when she parked in our office lot. She left windows open a crack because it was hot. When she later returned to her car, she found that several squirrels had managed to squeeze in through the windows and had been having a grand feast. It took about 45 minutes to get the squirrels out of the car, not to mention cleaning up the mess.

This same person also trained a squirrel to come into our office, go through a maze, and climb up on a desk to get a peanut. She named the squirrel Gladys. Unfortunately one day Gladys, driven by her mad peanut addiction, sprinted across the street in front of a car. So, she ended up in that big maze in the sky; probably is still sitting and feasting amid a pile of everlasting peanuts.

Here are some unusual video clips of squirrels, including one that features an encounter with a candy machine:

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Squirrels for nuts contend, and, wrong or right,
For the world's empire kings ambitious fight.
What odds?--to us 'tis all the self-same thing,
A nut, a world, a squirrel, and a king
-Charles Churchill

Too much even of food most squirrels enjoy can be bad for them. For example, many wildlife rehabilitators agree that over-indulging on peanuts or walnuts can cause some squirrels to have elevated levels of phosphorus, and therefore to become over-excitable.
[Just look at what happened to Gladys…]

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Drawing a dream

Streak across the twilight sky
drawing a dream

where would you go
if you could
– at that moment –

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You haven't seen a tree until you've seen its shadow from the sky.
~Amelia Earhart

O! for a horse with wings!
~William Shakespeare, Cymbeline

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Opening windows

Love how sunlight
through windows
of late afternoon

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To me the world of poetry is a house with thousands of glittering windows. Our words and images, land to land, era to era, shed light on one another.
-Naomi Shihab Nye

The windows of my soul I throw
Wide open to the sun.
~John Greenleaf Whittier

Blossoms for the soul

Into full blossom…

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
-Marcel Proust

The living self has one purpose only: to come into its own fullness of being, as a tree comes into full blossom, or a bird into spring beauty, or a tiger into luster.
-D.H. Lawrence

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Spiral cloud?

An unusual cloud hovering above Boise recently…


This seems to be the law of progress in everything we do; it moves along a spiral rather than a perpendicular; we seem to be actually going out of the way, and yet it turns out that we were really moving upward all the time.
-Frances E. Willard

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Outsider art?

Drawings on a public art wall at the May Day fest last weekend.
"Outsider art", outside…


Inside yourself or outside, you never have to change what you see, only the way you see it.
-Thaddeus Golas

Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.
-Carl Jung

If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, I'll bet they'd live a lot differently.
-Bill Watterson (Calvin & Hobbes)

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Make a wish

It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are thoroughly alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger after them.
-George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans)

Monday, May 05, 2008

Tulip in red

Tulips marked our path as we walked tonight -- yellow, pink, orange, purple – and red.

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Red is the ultimate cure for sadness.
-Bill Blass

He liked to observe emotions; they were like red lanterns strung along the dark unknown of another's personality, marking vulnerable points.
-Ayn Rand

Saturday, May 03, 2008

A celebration of May

During a walk today, we came across a May Day celebration in a park.

The scene could have been in Berkeley in the 1960s.
But then, so many things are retro now...

We watched as some adults led kids in a dance around the Maypole. It was a bit like herding cats, but they did manage to braid the pole without anyone becoming too entangled. And they had a lot of fun.

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A little Madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King
- Emily Dickinson

The world's favorite season is the spring.
All things seem possible in May
- Edwin Way Teale

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Of water and reflection

This looks more like fall than spring. But it will change as the weather warms. The composition and the reflections are what called to me the most.

Of course, my favorite images of water lilies are the paintings by Claude Monet. Seeing his canvases of shimmering colors and light is breathtaking. Wikipedia has a gallery of some of his paintings.

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I've caught this magical landscape and it's the enchantment of it that I'm so keen to render. Of course lots of people will protest that it's quite unreal, but that's just too bad.

These landscapes of water and reflection have become an obsession.

People discuss my art and pretend to understand as if it were necessary to understand, when it's simply necessary to love.

--Claude Monet