Friday, January 11, 2008

For lo...the winter is past????

So...on Thursday I was riding my bike around the neighborhood after getting the mail.
I enjoyed the sunshine and the last of the colorful fall leaves shimmering against a vibrant blue sky.

I noticed one house still had a Christmas wreath on the front door, and I wondered how long it would stay up.

Then I saw this tree:

White blossoms bursting forth on the bare branches.

Bees buzzing from flower to flower.

And all I could think of was....

Oh COME ON...Give me a break...YOU have GOT to be kidding me!
It's not even half way through January yet!

This is just wrong.

No trees should be allowed to bloom until at least mid January... pul-ez!

Caddy corner from "Springtime" was this huge Bradford pear tree complete with squirrel nest.

As I snapped a shot, a turkey buzzard sailed through the picture. The buzzards are usually seen gliding in circles over the forest, twenty or thirty of them at a time.

Guess this one wanted some alone time or something.

Man, would I love to peek inside that squirrel's nest.

Beneath the pear tree was a sago palm tree, with a multicolored leaf wedged within it's fronds.
Later I took B. to the doctor, who said surgery is not going to be needed on his injured knee.
Three more weeks in a brace, then rehab. It is still very painful for him, and it is difficult for him to get a full night's sleep.
Or any sleep at all for that matter, even with the prescribed medications.

Two nights ago he finally tried taking the prescribed painkillers, a glass of wine and a couple of melatonin tablets.

And then was able *finally* to sleep through the night for the first time in three weeks.
. When asked about adding the wine with the med, the doctor nodded sagely and said "yeah...I does help..."
Now the three of us are enjoying sharing a nice bottle of wine each night, and exploring various vintages and types.

Definitely less side effect are likely to occur with a glass of wine than with your typical prescribed medication.
And wine is a lot more interesting to talk about too.

Like was this winery really making wine in 1124 AD???

On the way home from the doctor's office we stopped to get a refill on the pain management prescriptions, and to pick up another bottle of wine.
It was a tad chilly as the sun was setting, and I commented that I would enjoy having a fire in the fire place later on.
B. said "Yeah, we should probably have a fire before summer gets here."
And it took several moments for my brain to register that summer is SUPPOSED to still be six months away, yet we are already thinking it is almost here.

And as promised: the bee going about his business on the camellia.
Love that golden pollen anklet he is wearing!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Worth the wait: The camilla bud

A few days ago I posted a picture of a camellia bud in my garden.
The bud had opened just enough to show color in mid December and seemed to open no further for several weeks.

Yesterday the bud finally opened and fully became a bloom.

A single pop of deep rose pink in an otherwise flowerless garden.

Pretty eye catching, eh?

Imagine you were out on a walk and you saw that bloom along side your path.

Would seeing the wide view of the garden and single bloom be enough for you?

Or would you step over for a closer look?

And would you then consider the composition of the petals?

See the delicate droplets adorning the bloom, sparkling like jewels?
Would you smile then and think that you had now seen the flower fully?
Would you then continue on with your walk?
Or would you look closer still...and see the flow of stamen white against the deep rosy color?

Stamen swimming out from the heart of the flower, with velvety golden points...

Tips that are pointed like arrow heads.

Gold dusted heart shapes.
Bits of the gold are gilding the petals...powdered gold traces of genetic promise.

Thoughts of Georgia O'Keefe...of botany....of genetics drift about.
"Be fruitful, and multiply..."
The golden pollen is a witness to the obedience of the flower to its Maker.
A party gown...a ribbon flower...light and shadow...ruffles and folds.

Why was the wave of stamen divided by one wrinkled petal?

How could I draw this?
How would I paint this?
The sparkles are so fine...
A child would touch...and bear tell tale yellow upon tiny fingers.
A yellow smudge would betray a curious nose.

All this beauty would fit within the palm of my hand.

Yet my eye can scarcely begin to take it all in.
My mind can scarcely conceive that this glorious beauty was created to last only days.
But I saw it, and photographed it, and traveled through it with my eyes and my mind fully engaged in observation.
And because of that, this flower can now last forever.
And can be enjoyed, potentially, by millions.
(PS: Last year this bush had dozens of flowers. This year it was pruned as it was becoming leggy and weak. The bush produced only two buds this year; the second bud is still green and hard and is located low on the bush. It is an added treat that this first bloom was front and center on the bush where I can enjoy it easily.)
(PSS: If you look closely at the last picture, you can see on one side where the stamen has yet to release it's pollen. And along one petal edge you can see a fringe. The veins of the petals are also worth studying. The more I look, the more I always see. This morning, after I posted this, there was a bee visiting the flower. I'll post those pictures tomorrow.)

The Art of Travel

I traveled to China this morning.

There I visited a family in a high rise building and watched their cat "Miss Peach" have a thirteen second encounter with "Sister Pigeon."
Seeing Miss Peach all wide eyed as she watched the bird made me laugh so hard I woke up Bernie.

Wasn't that a great way to start the day?

Sitting in my kitchen as I traveled in my pjs half way around the world via a blog and the Internet.

Apparently Miss Peach spotted Tiggie's pictures yesterday and thought he was a very handsome cat. She left him a note, and via the note I was invited into Miss Peach's home and was introduced to her family.


I love to travel. Last year I visited Switzerland, Canada, Minneapolis, Utah, Washington, Louisiana, and Colorado.
Not bad for one year.

While in Switzerland, I had the chance to read "The Art of Travel" by Alain De Botton.

The last two chapters of that book truly changed my life.
Each chapter of the book covered an aspect of why travel is pleasurable.
One chapter talked about anticipation; how some people savor the experience of looking at train schedules, and shipping schedules, and plane schedules, and maps. They may actually never travel at all...for them, the anticipation and planning is thrilling enough.

I know people like that. One friend declares where she is going two years ahead of time, and I get quarterly updates.
"I booked our flights!" she will announce. "I'm looking at places to stay in France" she'll announce the next time.

For two years I will get breathless updates. After the trip I call and ask her to tell me all about the trip, demanding that she tell me everything about the trip in detail, and I will hear something along the lines of "We had a great time! The weather was really good, except a rained a couple of days in (someplace). We had the best time!"

I ask for more details, and getting them is like pulling teeth. She will think hard and say what towns they visited. She will tell me the names of her distant family members that she met over tea. And how long the drive was from place to place. And that she would love to go back there again. The mountains were beautiful. It was cold.

A few weeks later she will begin again with planning another trip to some place new.

I am agog.

I shouldn't be: it is simply her way of traveling. Two years of anticipation for her is two years of sheer delight.

Other people are more like me. Trip arrangements are made in an hour or two, a few months or weeks or days before departure. Only the barest skeleton of travel structure is created: Stay in this place, want to see that place....

As I travel, I vacuum in every detail, sketching on paper, photographing, writing journals. After the trip each detail is savored over and over again. A single picture brings back a flood of memories: The color of the room where I slept, what the sheets felt like, what the view out the window contained, what was served at breakfast, how the shape of the spoon was different, the cologne that man ahead of them in line was wearing.

I savor every detail, and after my trip, I journal every detail that I recall, and I add to my journal as I remember things even later.

Be careful of asking me about my trips!

Be thankful if you are only stuck looking at the pictures!
(although a few friends have asked for and enjoyed reading my travel journals...usually people who have already visited where I have gone...they say it is fun to go along with me to a place they have already been.)

The first big "Ah HA!" of the Art of Travel was in the second to last chapter, where it was discussed how we can capture and savor our travel experience best by observing and sketching. Even if done poorly, the details that we struggle to capture will forever be locked in our mind in ways that a photo could ever aspire to do.
The same is true of writing a descriptive passage or poem about what we observe while we are there.

Golly, I have been doing that for years.
No wonder I have such vivid memories of my travels.


Here was the real AH HA!!!!!!

Actually, in the end, it is the observations that make travel enjoyable. The author talked about how the first time you drive to a new job you see all kinds of interesting and exciting things. Flags, trees, buildings...
The second time you see fewer new things.
A few days later the trip to work is a blank.

The first trip to work was experienced as travel.
The consequent drives were not.
Same path, one with observation, one without.

The author (each chapter has a different author) spoke about a man who put on his pajamas and spent an entire day traveling around his bedroom.
He looked at each thing in the room as if he had never seen it before.
The bindings of the books. The pattern of the weave of the sheets. The lamp post outside the window.
An entire day!
He delighted in discovery, and he honed his ability to observe.

Ever since I read that chapter my life has been changed.
I can travel looking at a single lemon.
I can look at three far off pine trees and be enthralled.

It helps to have a camera handy as it inspires me to stop and capture my travels as I go about my day.
Since I've read the book I am shocked at how much is out there to see that I never saw before.

And I wonder at my friend who spends two years preparing for a trip, and yet apparently sees almost nothing while she is gone.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Still into posing

I got chewed out gently corrected by Tiggie the other day. He said he was extremely hurt and humiliated that I had posted a picture of him in a woman's hair style last week.

I told Tiggie I would formally apologise on my blog.

And that I would post pictures of him posing where he looked really good.

He is right...he looks perfect just the way he naturally is.
I'm truly sorry for hurting your feeling Tiggie.
I will try harder to do better in the future.

(Please note that the flute of champagne was mine, not Tiggie's. It was pink champagne, with a splash of blood orange and a drop of grenadine. A lovely Sunday morning brunch drink; and lord knows I needed a drink that with that nutty cat would drive anyone to drink. He himself had a gin and tonic later.)

And just to keep peace in the family, here is a picture of Hart playing with his new knitted catnip filled snake from Grandma D.
He bit the dickens out of that snake. Scary it was. Bells jingling and back feet flying...Hart is one furious fighting cat when he is dueling against catnip snakes.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

I met Louise today.

I got the biggest smile...a hat named Louise...with a wing!
Jane over at Glorious Hats has knocked another one out of the ball park, in my humble milliner opinion.

Really, why isn't Jane's work being covered in magazines???

I read craft magazines all the time, and go "pff, this has nothing on Jane's stuff."

And yeah, it is warm here again today.

Lucky me, but dang, all the really cool hats out there are either for cold weather or cocktail parties.

I'm striking out on both around here.

Today's fantasy: A hat party with my blog friends where we wear our winter hats as we go to visit a great art museum.

Tomorrow's fantasy: A cocktail party with my blog friends where we wear witty cocktail hats and sip beverages from creatively shaped glasses while singing around the piano at the St. Regis hotel. You know, like they used to do in the old movies.

Ah, winter day dreams. Feel free to join in!

(PS: There are more shots of Louise on the Glorious Hat blog. Definitely worth dropping by...)

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Into a fresh winter look

Each year, after all the Christmas red and green trims are retired from my world, I love to place a cleansing splash of yellow and blue accents through out our house.

This year a bowl full of bright yellow lemons on a silver tray (thanks Mom S. for sending the lemons from her yard!) lifts my spirits in the post holiday lull, and they are refreshing to consider as I sip a hot cup of tea.

It is so much fun to re-decorate my blog as well!

The weather is "soft and warm" here today, as Laura noted this morning. The three of us agreed; the humidity in air does feel soft against one's skin.

We've already had a celebratory King's cake, and Laura and I took a long walk together as well.

As Bernie and Laura watch a game on TV, I found my thoughts turning to millinery once again.

I put "winter white hat" in as an ebay search, and this lovely creation popped up on my screen:

A faux suede body, with real mink, Victorian lace, a Victorian button and pearls as trim.

The milliner's name is Judith Krantz, and I think this hat is the perfect romantic winter hat.

I can imagine wearing it with a long white woolen coat with mink cuffs and collars and a parade of rich velvet buttons marching down the front.

Sigh. Clearly such would be too warm for Houston winter wear.

But oh, if I lived where there was snow and ice...I think I'd make the coat and wear it with the dreamy hat everywhere I went on wintery days.

If you are interested in seeing it on ebay, click here. Judith promises she is about to make more hats. I hope she does. I'll be watching for them, and dreaming of snowy winters.

(UPDATE! She has posted three more hats...sheared beaver, mink, velvet....and more to come. Swoon. See them here!)