Saturday, September 26, 2015

Helvetica, moms, soup, and cities

I enjoyed this visually graphic post about Ten Fonts that Designers Love to Hate. I am with them on Comic Sans. That particular font evokes a visceral reaction in me every time I see it, I hate it that bad. Unfortunately, most teachers love to use it, so I'm surrounded, lol. I had never heard of Bleeding Cowboys font before, go figure. And I was sad to see Helvetica dismissed, solely due to ubiquitousness. I prefer to stay loyal to the things that last and last. Try life WITHOUT Helvetica.

Helvetica lives! They even made a movie about it!

It's a quiet Saturday around here. It has been raining for a few days so the air is cool and the ground is muddy outside. I got a first wind, lol, and cleaned and vacuumed and did dishes and did laundry and even polished the furniture before 9am today. It feels like I have the whole day ahead when my chores get done early.

My friend is going to FB message me when she is ready for me to meet her and pick up my Bountiful Basket she has gotten in the city. She picks up at the site and I meet her halfway to grab it from her before she heads home. I am looking forward to some fresh and good produce. For a change of pace, I will probably make soup.

Here is a UK Daily Mail article about a Utah mom who sang to the tune of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah song but changed the lyrics to share her feelings about being a mom. She has a great voice and the lyrics are dead-on. The video she posted of herself singing it has garnered millions of hits on Youtube and Facebook. It's nice to see there are moms who love being moms. Hallelujah to moms who unashamedly love their job!

Utah woman with the voice of an angel sings her own version of Hallelujah with lyrics being about a mom... and now she's rightly famous
A Utah woman with the voice of an angel is a viral sensation after her version of ‘Hallelujah’ with lyrics about being a mom racked up more than two million views. Shannon Christensen Abbott posted a clip of herself singing Leonard Cohen’s famous song on her Facebook page recently. But she changed the lyrics to reflect her hectic lifestyle as a mother to young children, including: 'It's a dirty job but someone's gotta do it.'
I'm going to play with my photos today also. I have pictures of just about everything. Except...a cityscape. All the times I was in NYC or San Francisco or Miami or Fort Lauderdale or London or Montreal and all the other cities I've visited, even Portland Maine where I lived near for thirty years, I'm shocked I do not have ONE cityscape picture. I have a sunburst one of the street in NYC where the NYC Public Library is, and one top of the skyscraper pic of San Francisco, but that is about it. I'm amazed at the oversight. I'd wanted to play with cityscapes and light but I guess not.

Here are my city pictures and you can see that I took them with a different theme in mind and not the city landscape I now wish I had.

I was fascinated with the heavy door and the gilding, not the city.

I liked the colonial-ness of this Portland street

The closest thing I have to a typical cityscape,
but Portland Maine is a small city and so are its buildings

I framed this to show all the funkiness of San Francisco, contained in one shot
The County Fair is finishing up tonight. It is a very big deal around here. This fair is actually mainly an agricultural fair, given that our economy is so heavily based on agriculture. Of course there is a fairway and funnel cakes and rides and music to go along with the cows and the tractor sales and the sheep show, too. I have some old fair pics I'll probably noodle around with later.

At school we received a bulletin sent from our Superintendent (who is one of 4 finalists for State Superintendent of the year!) regarding the dangers of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). As the State Coordinator at Georgia Emergency Management Agency-Homeland Security (GEMA) said, and I paraphrase his bulletin, given that poultry farming is a multi-billion dollar industry within the state of Georgia that touches either directly or indirectly every Georgian, and given that there are now many avian enthusiasts who won birds (especially chickens) in their backyard, a case of HPAI will significantly impact our beautiful state. This is something we want to avoid. If you own chickens, turkeys, or other birds please heed the warnings. I am told by farmers and state officials that there have been many meetings in GA lately about the increased risks. The reason the GEMA Coordinator sent the bulletin to the Superintendent is because the school systems are an area where information has been lacking, yet many teachers are also farmers who own birds of some kind in micro-farming endeavors.

So that is my Saturday morning. I hope you all have a great weekend yourselves and enjoy the time, but better yet, redeem the time. (Ephesians 5:16).

My cat is very sick

My cat Luke is doing very poorly. He has been sick for a while. More recently, he's had several hospital visits this month. This week, he has been at the vet since Thursday. He has been declining fast and I was hopeful that the two day visit to the kitty hospital with fluids IV and meds to stimulate appetite would be what he needed to become stabilized. But sadly, no. Today the vet said she would like to keep Luke the rest of the weekend. He won't eat and he has lost a third of his body weight. Poor thing is skin and bones. I think I am about to lose my best friend.

Saddest of all though, is that not just Luke, but all 3 cats have been diagnosed. Bert is showing symptoms and not doing great, and though Murray is not showing any symptoms yet, he will. I fear the empty nest.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Recommended books: Adventure and seagoing

I watched a short documentary (11 minutes) titled "9/11 Boat Lift". It's narrated by Tom Hanks and it chronicles the largest sea evacuation in history- the lifting of 500,000 Manhattanites desperate to be rescued from terrorized, smoky, ash-laden lower Manhattan on 9-11/2001. All the more incredible is that this rescue was not organized, it occurred naturally as mariners of all stripes- ferry boat captains, tug boat operators, harbor pilots, and recreational boatmen realized that there were many fellow humans stuck on an island needing rescue. Manhattan is an island and no one realized it more than did the Manhattanites the day they closed the bridges, roads and tunnels. There was no way off.

Thinking about seagoing mariners and rescue operations and such brought back to mind some great adventure books I've read. These are non-fiction but read like narrative. They're interesting, factual, and  heart breaking in some cases. Here is my list for you to peruse, in case you're looking for some good ole yarns to read. The link brings you to and the blurb is also's.

Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea
In 1857, the Central America, a sidewheel steamer ferrying passengers fresh from the gold rush of California to New York and laden with 21 tons of California gold, encountered a severe storm off the Carolina coast and sank, carrying more than 400 passengers and all her cargo down with her. She then sat for 132 years, 200 miles offshore and almost two miles below the ocean's surface--a depth at which she was assumed to be unrecoverable--until 1989, when a deep-water research vessel sailed into the harbor at Norfolk, Virginia, fat with salvaged gold coins and bullion estimated to be worth one billion dollars.

Author Gary Kinder wisely lets the story of the Columbus-America Discovery Group, led by maverick scientist and entrepreneur Tommy Thompson, unfold without hyperbole. Kinder interweaves the tale of the Central America and her passengers and crew with Thompson's own story of growing up landlocked in Ohio, an irrepressible tinkerer and explorer even in his childhood days, and his progress to adulthood as a young man who always had "7 to 14" projects on the table or spinning in his head at any given moment. One of those projects would become the preposterous recovery of the stricken steamer, and the resourcefulness and later urgency with which the project would proceed is contrasted poignantly with the Central America's doomed battle in 1857 to stay afloat.
Did you know that Herman Melville's story Moby-Dick was based on a true story? Here it is:

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex
Nathaniel Philbrick's In the Heart of the Sea examines the 19th-century Pacific whaling industry through the arc of the sinking of the whaleship Essex by a boisterous sperm whale. The story that inspired Herman Melville's classic Moby-Dick has a lot going for it--derring-do, cannibalism, rescue--and Philbrick proves an amiable and well-informed narrator, providing both context and detail. We learn about the importance and mechanics of blubber production--a vital source of oil--and we get the nuts and bolts of harpooning and life aboard whalers.
Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage
The astonishing saga of polar explorer Ernest Shackleton's survival for over a year on the ice-bound Antarctic seas, as Time magazine put it, "defined heroism." Alfred Lansing's scrupulously researched and brilliantly narrated book -- with over 200,000 copies sold -- has long been acknowledged as the definitive account of the Endurance's fateful trip. To write their authoritative story, Lansing consulted with ten of the surviving members and gained access to diaries and personal accounts by eight others. The resulting book has all the immediacy of a first-hand account, expanded with maps and illustrations especially for this edition.

Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History
September 8, 1900, began innocently in the seaside town of Galveston, Texas. Even Isaac Cline, resident meteorologist for the U.S. Weather Bureau failed to grasp the true meaning of the strange deep-sea swells and peculiar winds that greeted the city that morning. Mere hours later, Galveston found itself submerged in a monster hurricane that completely destroyed the town and killed over six thousand people in what remains the greatest natural disaster in American history--and Isaac Cline found himself the victim of a devastating personal tragedy. 
Using Cline's own telegrams, letters, and reports, the testimony of scores of survivors, and our latest understanding of the science of hurricanes, Erik Larson builds a chronicle of one man's heroic struggle and fatal miscalculation in the face of a storm of unimaginable magnitude. Riveting, powerful, and unbearably suspenseful, Isaac's Storm is the story of what can happen when human arrogance meets the great uncontrollable force of nature.

Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time

Sounds boring. It isn't.
Anyone alive in the eighteenth century would have known that "the longitude problem" was the thorniest scientific dilemma of the day--and had been for centuries. Lacking the ability to measure their longitude, sailors throughout the great ages of exploration had been literally lost at sea as soon as they lost sight of land. Thousands of lives, and the increasing fortunes of nations, hung on a resolution.

The scientific establishment of Europe--from Galileo to Sir Isaac Newton--had mapped the heavens in both hemispheres in its certain pursuit of a celestial answer. In stark contrast, one man, John Harrison, dared to imagine a mechanical solution--a clock that would keep precise time at sea, something no clock had ever been able to do on land. Longitude is the dramatic human story of an epic scientific quest, and of Harrison's forty-year obsession with building his perfect timekeeper, known today as the chronometer. Full of heroism and chicanery, it is also a fascinating brief history of astronomy, navigation, and clockmaking, and opens a new window on our world.
And for a change of scenery: this is one of the most gripping, heart-rending adventure stories I've ever read.

Into Thin Air
A bank of clouds was assembling on the not-so-distant horizon, but journalist-mountaineer Jon Krakauer, standing on the summit of Mt. Everest, saw nothing that "suggested that a murderous storm was bearing down." He was wrong. The storm, which claimed five lives and left countless more--including Krakauer's--in guilt-ridden disarray, would also provide the impetus for Into Thin Air, Krakauer's epic account of the May 1996 disaster.
I really enjoyed this slim but fascinating book:

Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture

Filippo Brunelleschi's design for the dome of the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence remains one of the most towering achievements of Renaissance architecture. Completed in 1436, the dome remains a remarkable feat of design and engineering. Its span of more than 140 feet exceeds St Paul's in London and St Peter's in Rome, and even outdoes the Capitol in Washington, D.C., making it the largest dome ever constructed using bricks and mortar. The story of its creation and its brilliant but "hot-tempered" creator is told in Ross King's delightful Brunelleschi's Dome. 
Both dome and architect offer King plenty of rich material. The story of the dome goes back to 1296, when work began on the cathedral, but it was only in 1420, when Brunelleschi won a competition over his bitter rival Lorenzo Ghiberti to design the daunting cupola, that work began in earnest. King weaves an engrossing tale from the political intrigue, personal jealousies, dramatic setbacks, and sheer inventive brilliance that led to the paranoid Filippo, "who was so proud of his inventions and so fearful of plagiarism," finally seeing his dome completed only months before his death.

The Pillars of the Earth

Historical fiction set in the Medieval times, chronicling both the building of a cathedral and the history behind a little- known time when Empress Maud and King Stephen reigned. It was a time of anarchy, survival, love, and betrayal. Note: some sex scenes.

Happy Reading!

9/11 Boat Lift- an untold part of the terrible day

I love mariners. THIS is the heart of the ocean.

"The Great BoatLift of 9/11" became the largest sea evacuation in history. Larger than the evacuation at Dunkirk in WWII, when 339,000 British and French soldiers were rescued over the course of 9 days. On 9/11 nearly 500,000 civilians were rescued from Manhattan by boat in less than 9 hours."

Narrated by Tom Hanks. 11 minutes. Please watch, very interesting and emotional.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The chair that got away

Let the weekend begin! My landscape: ice water with Bountiful Basket lemons in good ole southern mason jar; laptop, and waiting for me later, my reading chair by the breezy window. Ahhh. Did you hear that sigh, Madison County?!

This weekend is one in which I've anticipated since June. Georgia summers are hot, no surprise. But in mid-September the humidity and heat breaks into the loveliest fall seasons anywhere. Temps lower to the 70s during the day and 50s at night. The air is clear and bright. It's refreshing and wonderful to be outside again.

That is what is predicted by meteorologists for this weekend. I can't wait.

It's a Bountiful Basket Weekend, so that means going to get the Basket Saturday morning, and then returning home to wash it all and process it. I soak it all in the sterilized sink in tepid water with a cup of vinegar mixed in (to kill bugs or germs). By process, I mean storage for lengthier life, and cooking the rest right away.

A new second hand store has opened up an eighth of a mile from me, and is on the street I go down to pick up my Bountiful Basket. If you're from RI this store is like Job Lot and if you're from Maine this store is like Marden's. If a truck carrying Nike's crashes on the highway and the boxed get damaged but the shoes are OK, they can't really sell the clothes as new, but they will sell them in bulk at a reduced price and off the booty goes to the 2nd hand store. Like Warehouse Deals. Inventory changes daily.

I am not a shopper nor a consumer and I strive to "want" very few things that I don't "need." But last Saturday I stopped in on my way home just to check it out. It would be good to know if there were useful things in this nearby store that I could buy inexpensively. There was the usual jumble of new clothes, 20lb bags of non-clumping litter, small kitchen appliances, expired cereal or candy in bulk, and in the back, some furniture.

I have a nice dining chair at my table where I spend a great deal of time. It's Italian, so that equals pretty and well-made. It's about an inch too high though, and the circulation gets cut off behind my knee. I compensate by wearing one-inch flip-flops so my feet rest ergonomically at the floor, but still, it's a good chair just the wrong height for the table and my legs.

In the 2nd Hand Store, I saw some chairs. There were nice upholstered chairs for $30, which is a terrific price since upholstered furniture is expensive. I hesitate to buy any kind at any yard sale unless I know the person, because I'm convinced the chair will be infested with rats or bugs. In one lonely corner I saw a dusky gray Lexan or Lucite chair that had no legs, but runners.

I sat in it. It feels like the glass slipper when it went on Cinderella. I sank into it and it was both sturdy but comfortable. I knew that I knew it was a good chair. It wasn't marked with a price but considering upholstered living room chairs and recliners were listed at $25 or $30, I suspected I could grab the chair for $15 or even $10.

Then I talked myself out of it. "You already have a chair. What will I do with the chair I have if I get this chair? I have no room for more furniture. Skip the chair. Make do."

I went home. I thought about it Sunday. I regretted not getting the chair. I have only felt that way once or twice. Because consuming things means they're consumable, and my life is eternal, I usually don't stress about making or not making purchases. But this one nagged at me.

I looked up the type of chair it was and to my dismay I discovered that it was an Ikea Tobias Chair, selling for $100-125. They apparently are much beloved and highly sought after. I KNEW it!

IKEA photos
They were closed on Mondays so I had to wait until Tuesday to go back. The chair was gone, as I suspected it would be. Someone else was not as dumb as I was and nabbed that thing up right away.

Losing out on that deal, and a really comfortable chair, will haunt me forever. Sometimes my frugality and my practicality comes back to bite me. And a good deal on 20lb non-clumping litter just doesn't feel the same.

Happy shopping and happy weekend!

Monday, September 07, 2015

Crafting: Vintage Graphics printed on old book paper

Here is a great idea for book arts and crafting I got from a friend on Facebook who had posted a HomeTalk article. Here is the article

DIY Book Page Art Magnet With Graphics

It's actually not just magnets, but greeting cards, book covers, book marks, and kind of paper art really. Here is what you do.

Select an old book bought at a jumble sale or library discard sale. I have several neat ones. One is a Spanish dictionary and one that is an oversized 1950s world architecture book.

HomeTalk pic

Tear out a page from it and put it upside down in the printer.

HomeTalk pic

Then find an image you like, either on your computer or on the internet. I really enjoy The Graphics Fairy for free vintage clip art and other graphics.

In essence, you're just using the book page as your printer paper.

EPrata photo
then once the graphic is printed on your book paper, you can do what you like to it. As a first try, I made bookmarks. I am still working on how to center my graphic on the book page. It was easier to make bookmarks because I could cut them up and not worry about the centering until I gained more experience with the process-

EPrata photo
You can see here that I glued the papers onto cardstock. You can, at this point, glue them onto magnets, or fiberboard coaster material, or cardboard, or whatever.
EPrata photo

I pressed them, let the glue dry and then I laminated them with my new Swingline Laminator I bought for cheap through Amazon.  Voila!

So easy! I can see already I am going to have to buy more printer ink! ;)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Art Deco, steampunk, Metropolis, Tesla and Sherlock: what do they all have in common?

I like the early Art Deco movement's style.
Art Deco is an influential visual arts design style that first appeared in France after World War I and began flourishing internationally in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s before its popularity waned after World War II. Deco emerged from the interwar period when rapid industrialisation was transforming culture. One of its major attributes is an embrace of technology. This distinguishes Deco from the organic motifs favoured by its predecessor Art Nouveau. ~Wikipedia
Art Deco's strong lines, streamlined aspects, and heavily graphic qualities are intriguing to me. I like them. Examples of the style range from the Chrysler Building

To the Chrysler Airflow

You might recognize Art Deco from the frequent use of strong sunbursts, like this Parker Duofold Desk Set

I became interested in this form of art after watching the incredible silent film Metropolis.
The appearance of the city in Metropolis is strongly informed by the Art Deco movement; however it also incorporates elements from other traditions. Ingeborg Hoesterey described the architecture featured in Metropolis as eclectic, writing how its locales represent both “functionalist modernism [and] art deco” whilst also featuring “the scientist’s archaic little house with its high-powered laboratory, the catacombs [and] the Gothic cathedral”. The film’s use of art deco architecture was highly influential, and has been reported to have contributed to the style’s subsequent popularity in Europe and America.
Here is the movie poster for Metropolis

The movie's premise was that automation created drudgery rather than relieving it, the movie was about machines and man, man and machines, and what we lose due to the nature of 'progress.' It really is an incredible movie, especially since the message resonates more even now than it did nearly 100 years ago upon its original release.
Roger Ebert noted that "Metropolis is one of the great achievements of the silent era, a work so audacious in its vision and so angry in its message that it is, if anything, more powerful today than when it was made." The film also has a 99% rating at Rotten Tomatoes, based on 116 reviews. The film was ranked No. 12 in Empire magazine's "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema" in 2010, and it was ranked number 2 in a list of the 100 greatest films of the Silent Era. ~Wikipedia
But it wasn't only the message that caught me, it was the look. The film is visually stunning, a blend of machine and art, humanity and technology.

The architecture in the film was its own character.

This is the iconic picture from the film most people remember:
Pic of Freder arduously working a ten-hour shift on the clock machine

I love clocks, watches, the concept of time, and clock design. Clocks and time figure prominently in Metropolis:

Interpretation of time: One great example of German Expressionist mise-en-scene is in the scene showing the two clocks. Much is encapsulated in the spatial, semiotic and geometric relations of these clocks. The two social classes exist in different zones. The bottom clock counts off the time in ten hour increments for the workers. Implying that its readers have only basic numeracy skills. They are also systematically denied the rhythms of daylight and night. The upper clock uses a 24-hour system. This is intended for use by the managers, engineers and administrators; it relies on a more sophisticated mathematical concept. the numbers are literally higher as well, and the clock is placed higher in a position of privilege. 
Finally the relative dimensions are significant. the lower clock has a greater mass. This depicts the social crisis of capitalism graphically. In order for the 'haves',( the Club Sons) to have noticeably more than the ''have nots', they must be out of balance. The placement of these two clocks symbolizes the inner workings of metropolis in miniature: a utopia for the few on top and a dystopia for the many on the bottom. It is interesting to study the complex meanings of just one frame of Metropolis and to realize the depth of meaning that was expressed in this remarkable film.
And this gives rise to steampunk. They call Metropolis "A Steampunk Opera".
Steampunk refers to a subgenre of science fiction and sometimes fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century's British Victorian era or American "Wild West", in a post-apocalyptic future during which steam power has maintained mainstream usage, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power. It may, therefore, be described as neo-Victorian. Steampunk perhaps most recognisably features anachronistic technologies or retro-futuristic inventions as people in the 19th century might have envisioned them, and is likewise rooted in the era's perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, and art.~Wikipedia
If Firefly had lasted longer, it'd have gone steampunk, I guarantee it. See? Almost there...


Steampunk has a fascination with watches and clocks because they exemplify the overall durability, design, and functionality of intricate machinery and mechanisms (mainly powered by steam, of course). So the Laughing Squid's promotion of a Steampunk Tesla watch caught my eye:

Tesla Watch, An Elegant Steampunk-Styled Analog Watch That Features Two Light-Up Vacuum Tubes on Top
The Tesla Watch is an elegant steampunk-styled analog watch from ThinkGeek that features a “weathered-brass look on metal findings, a leather strap, and two light-up vacuum tube LEDs on top”. The Nikola Tesla-themed watch is available to purchase online. ... The Tesla Watch goes with your steampunk aesthetic. With a weathered-brass look on all the metal parts, this analog watch features a leather strap. The highlights of this design, however, are the two faux vacuum tubes with red LEDs inside that you can turn on and off with the flick of a switch. Everybody will want to ask you what time it is so they can see your watch. Just remember to follow the answer with, “… 1875.”
LOL, I'm not SO into steampunk that I'd go this far, but I understand the fascination. In my tiny apartment I have one nod to steampunk, a glancing reference to intricate but highly functional metal mechanisms...the clasp to my prayer journal

It's interesting that art and design can incorporate futuristic elements of Art Deco and still give rise to the retro/futuristic look of neo-Victorian Steampunk. Cool.

So that was all probably way more than you ever wanted to know about art deco, Metropolis and steampunk. Unless it's these two PS's:
Nikola Tesla is the quintessential 'mad scientist', (10 July 1856 – 7 January 1943) was a Serbian American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist, and futurist best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system...(Wikipedia).
Futurists like Nikola Tesla and Jules Verne are well known to Steampunk/neo-Victorian enthusiasts. If you want to know more about the crazy scientist Tesla, Netflix has a bio-pic on him.

Speaking of neo-Victorian enthusiasts, fans of Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch know that the art design and costuming for that British series treads a remarkable line of keeping the Victorian roots of the inimitable detective intact by nodding to but not indulging in blatant Victorian pieces. Until this Christmas, when Sherlock and his trusty sidekick Doctor travel back in time to the original Sherlock's time of 1887!

ha ha ha Sherlock is wearing the hat. ;)

All I can say is AWESOMESAUCE! (hey, that's a word now)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Mona Lisa's changing smile, and other art thoughts

A flurry of news articles related to the famous Leonardo da Vinci painting "Mona Lisa" have come across my twitter stream. Here's one.

Mystery of the Mona Lisa’s smile solved: Second painting shows how da Vinci created an optical illusion to trick viewers
The Mona Lisa's mysterious expression may have captivated the world, but hers isn't the only enigmatic smile Leonardo da Vinci created. Researchers examining an earlier painting by the Renaissance master claim to have unravelled the painter's secret to creating an 'uncatchable smile'. The study reveals how La Bella Principessa, painted by da Vinci before he completed the Mona Lisa in the late 15th Century, uses a clever trick to lure in the viewer. Researchers found that by expertly blending colours to exploit our peripheral vision, the shape of the subject's mouth appears to change according to the angle it is viewed from. When viewed directly, the slant of the mouth is distinctly downwards, according to the research by scientists at Sheffield Hallam University and Sunderland University. As the viewer's eye wanders elsewhere to examine other features, however, the mouth appears to take an upward turn, creating a smile that can only be seen indirectly, much like the Mona Lisa's.
The Mona Lisa is an interesting painting. First, it is SMALL. With the centuries of hubbub and attention one would think it was as big as Picasso's 25 foot wide Guernica. Mona Lisa by comparison is just 30 in × 21 in.

It is also encased behind bullet proof glass, thick glass. And roped off. You cannot get close to examine the brush strokes or colors, since it has been the target of vandalism.

But is still an extremely compelling painting, as evidenced by the story above. How did Leonardo do it? Who is the woman? Why is she smiling secretly?

When my husband and I traveled to Italy and Rome I kept a travel journal. Here it is,

Here are the two pages logging my trip to the Louvre in Paris, where Mona Lisa is on display.

I'd written, "I won't even try to describe the Louvre. It is huge, wide, filled and absolutely tear-jerkingly beautiful."

So much art, so beautiful. I'd been moved by the power of the art of the Raft of the Medusa. The desperation the fear, the sweat, the piercing pain of sharks, sting of salt water, all palpable.

...intrigued by Cimabue's Maesta. Cimabue was the bridge between the Byzantine era and the Renaissance, when perspective and shadow began to be used.

...kind of disappointed by the Venus de Milo. I just don't get that one. but then again I've never been able to understand statues that well (except for Michaelangelo's David).

and fell in LOVE with the Renaissance ceramiche
Source: Louvre
It's been a long time since I gazed at beautiful art, except for the art in my home. Art is moving. Art is thought provoking. Art chronicles history. Art is necessary. Encourage your kids to experiment with clay, paints, pencil. Have fun one Saturday making papier-mâché. Indulge the crayons. I still remember the glory of coloring with sharp crayons, and when Crayola expanded the colors and included gold and silver. It was thrilling. It turned out I cannot make art all that well, but I enjoy looking at it and thinking about it, and being moved by it.

My aunt gave me this Childe Hassam "Boston Common at Twilight" twenty, thirty years ago...and I look at it all the time. It calms me. It's a charming and wonderful painting. I always discover something new to admire in it.

What are some of your favorite pieces of art? How do they make you feel, what do they make you think about?

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Pixlr collages

Here are a few Pixlr collages I created for this week's Pixlr challenge. I am really no good at collage. If you want to see some good ones, and by good I mean witty, thought provoking or just plain pretty, go here or here or here or here

I can't wait for Monday and a new challenge. I feel I have hit the wall with artistic photo collage.

Friday: from sunrise to closing song, it was a good day

My favorite parts of the week are Friday nights and early Saturday mornings. There's a sweet relief of having made it through the week and then being able to come home and just exhale.

Saturday mornings before dawn are pregnant with weekend possibilities. What shall I do with this time I'm afforded? Craft? Cook? Read? Nap? Anything is possible with the dawn's early rays still below the horizon and all is quiet.

Yesterday was a great day. On the way to work there is this one spot junction that always has beautiful sunrises,

and some days they are just spectacular,

There is a 4-way stop with an old timey (closed) General Store on one corner

A convenience store on the other, and the industrial park on the third. The Middle School is located here, some chicken houses, an engineering/electrical company, and fields. Even the industrial park is picturesque.

But on the fourth corner, ahhh, this is the one everyone loves. It is a canola field and when canola blooms it is gorgeous.

The field is atop a long, slow rise on all sides, so you get these dramatic cloud formations, with the "Christina's World" aspect of the old store and run-down house next to it.

You can see the local fascination with the location on this Flickr page. Many other photographers have stomped these fields to get just the right vantage point for the house, store, fields, and dramatic sky with clouds. An independent movie company recently filmed some sequences here. It's funny to see on Internet Movie Database "Filming locations, Comer Georgia". LOL.

Anyway, my day began with a dramatically painted sunrise over the field, gorgeous colors and silence except for dawn light breeze.

It was a good day, and finished sweetly at the end with songs.

I was on duty in a classroom, watching some kids who were going to line up for car riders. Their teacher had brought the bus riders to the bus line. During the five minute interim or so, we have some down time. On a Friday afternoon with five or 7 extra minutes to kill, until they left for home, it could get wild unless I engaged the kids in something. There were about twenty. As they sat on the rug, all packed up with their little bookbags on, these little first graders looked so cute. I said, "hey, boys and girls is there a song someone wants to sing?"

Some hands shot up, and I picked a boy I knew liked to sing and I knew he would remember the words. He stood and sang a song about Jesus.

A second girl wanted to sing and I let her because she is usually shy. She also sang a song about Jesus. All the kids looked at the singers and listened patiently and clapped approvingly when he and she were done. Then a third girl stood up and she sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. It wasn't more than a few notes when one or two others began to sing, then a few more, and by the last line, all twenty children were warbling it out in their best little voices. It was as if I could see the notes in the air ascending to heaven with Jesus looking down and loving His children so much. Even the kids felt it too, their union of hearts and voices through song and a small sweet moment to end the week.

So my day began with a sunrise and ended with children singing, and all is well.

This weekend I plan to cook cream of carrot soup; roast cauliflower, potatoes and Hatch chili peppers; and make oatmeal/banana cookie bars. I also plan to nap. Of course, all those plans could be interrupted if the Lord returns. And that is more than all right by me.