Thursday, May 28, 2020

Sketchbooks, petticoats, and alpenstocks

The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.
~William James

Judith Wright
born May 31, 1915

An Australian poet for Poetry Friday. It's past Mother's Day, but Father's Day is coming up and some people have birthdays, and the Year owes us anyway. Judith Wright:

Request to a Year
by Judith Wright

If the year is meditating a suitable gift,
I should like it to be the attitude
of my great-great-grandmother,
legendary devotee of the arts,

who, having eight children
and little opportunity for painting pictures,
sat one day on a high rock
beside a river in Switzerland

and from a difficult distance viewed
her second son, balanced on a small ice-floe,
drift down the current towards a waterfall
that struck rock-bottom eighty feet below,

while her second daughter, impeded,
no doubt, by the petticoats of the day,
stretched out a last-hope alpenstock
(which luckily later caught him on his way).

Nothing, it was evident, could be done;
And with the artist's isolating eye
My great-great-grandmother hastily sketched the scene.
The sketch survives to prove the story by.

Year, if you have no Mother's day present planned,
reach back and bring me the firmness of her hand.


A Year of Reading has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Mary Lee!


The hydrangea’s color ranges from white to blue to pink and purple, determined by the acidity level of the soil. (Acidic soils produce blue flowers, neutral soils produce pale cream petals, and alkaline soils result in pink or purple.)

I remember reading somewhere that looking at flowers can lower your blood pressure. They meant in person, but maybe flowers in art can also help.

Hydrangeas today for Art Thursday:

Wren with Hydrangeas
by Watanabe Seitei (Watanabe Shotei), c. 1906, color on silk

Still Life with Irises and Hydrangea
by Richard La Barre Goodwin

Hydrangea and Swallow

Hydrangeas and Other Garden Flowers
by John Ross Key, 1882

Time is The Enemy
by Gerard Byrne, 2014

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Pink Unicorn

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine

Hi folks,

Today's post is about something charming that's been happening near me. A runner decided to wear a pink unicorn costume while she takes her near-daily jog and can I tell you how much people love it?? She posts messages on our community messageboard about where she will be running that day and parents bring their kids to see her. So much community affection for the pink unicorn.

photo by Steve Hutt

From a Bethesda Magazine article by Krista Brick:
She’s happy to stop and kick a soccer ball, chat with children and just spread her rainbow-and-sparkle disposition. It’s a demeanor she learned as a Disney employee.

“When you work at Disney, you have to put anything bothering you aside when you are on the park. It’s the same when I put on the unicorn,” she said.

... [Pink Unicorn] knows a thing or two about overcoming obstacles. She had to hang up her sneakers in 1995, when she was hit by a car, injuring her ankle knee and hip. Perseverance and determination helped her build back her strength and endurance to tackle that first marathon in 2004.

“Being injured gave me patience and endurance. It gave me the knowledge that sometimes you don’t know when the finish line is,” she said. “That’s much like the pandemic. Like you don’t know: Will we get out of this in three months, six months, two years? Being hit taught me patience and that you can control a certain amount of things for yourself, (then) some of it is the luck of the draw.”

Wise words!

Monday, May 25, 2020

Nowhere else to go

So, I don't know what's ahead
So, I don't know
But oh, there's nowhere else to go
~Sea Wolf

For Music Monday, a fan-submitted pandemic video. Sea Wolf:
The new Sea Wolf album Through A Dark Wood came out on March 20th, 2020, just as Covid-19 was declared a pandemic and the whole world was shutting down. We all go through 'dark woods' - aka hard times - in our lives, but I never thought we'd all be entering into one together at the very moment this album was released.

Since then, I received so many messages from fans and friends saying how the album was perfect for this moment, getting them through etc.. As difficult as the Pandemic is, I've repeatedly been moved by the glimpses of solidarity we are experiencing as humans through all of this. So when it came time to do a video for Blood Pact, based on what people had been saying about the album and what I'd been feeling, it felt right to make a direct connection between the song - which is about being in a hard place and finding courage in the face of fear and anxiety of the unknown ahead - and all of our lives right now.

So in late April we put out a call for fans around the world to make something with us, by sending us video clips documenting slices of their lives during the Covid-19 pandemic. Within days we received an avalanche of videos. We were not able to include everything that was sent, but this video is made up entirely of clips they sent.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Zine III

I swiftly discovered that there are few things in DIY (and possibly life) that can't be solved with a large mallet, a bag of ten-centimetre nails and some swearing.
~Monty Halls

Hi y'all! Having a hectic week and I didn't know what to share today so I made another colorblock zine. (The above DIY quote doesn't exactly apply to this, but I liked it anyway. If you make a zine that it does apply to, show me!)

* How To Make A Zine
* I've been wondering what to do with my zines. Put them in an album? Give them away? Leave them in books or ?

Beyond LiteracyLink has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Carol!

Street Organs

The magic of the street is the mingling of the errand and the epiphany.
~Rebecca Solnit

Vintage public art today in the form of street organs:

Dutch street organ of the Five Figures Cabinet
originally built by Gasparini

Museum speelklok tot pierement

Festival de musique mécanique de Dijon 2015 (Côte d'Or, Bourgogne, France)
François de Dijon

Antique Band Organ, 1892, Germany
Ruth Organs

Limonaire Frères street organ fet Zonnetje

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Cards and tickets

As much as you’ve changed during your time here, more change is coming. You’re going to continue to evolve in unforeseen ways. You are full of complexities and wonders that haven’t even begun to surface. Life’s unpredictability will draw these out and what defines you now will be mere shades and hues of a more vibrant you over the next five, 10, 50 years.
~Octavia Spencer

Y'all seem to like my silly posts on celebrations, so here's another. A couple of weeks ago we celebrated my son's birthday and graduation.

My "card" for Dash's graduation was a little Jeopardy game. He and his girlfriend took a Jeopardy tryout test thingie. Maybe they'll get to be on the show someday. I customized the categories: ceremonies (because graduation), candidates (because he's been a campaign manager for over a year), state flags (he knows a lot about flags), and quotable women (in honor of his candidate). I got the questions from a collection of crowd-sourced questions.

Before the game started, Elena guessed that one of the "Quotable Women" would be Eleanor Roosevelt, and then wouldn't you know that the answer to the first "Quotable Women" question was Eleanor Roosevelt! (But Elena didn't guess her because she thought it couldn't be! Ha.)

Answer: Commencement!

Crossing the graduation finish line!

A couple of days later, we celebrated Dash's birthday. His birthday theme was "vintage movie theater" in honor of his history thesis. My husband hung four sets of red (vinyl) curtains. You really felt like you *arrived* by the time you made it through all four! We put up a bunch of vintage etiquette posters...they were pretty obsessed with hat-removal back then, rightfully so:

Dash had decided to shave his beard on his birthday (so N95 masks could fit well), so I added that to his "ticket":

"Strictly formal"!

Next up: a family writing project. Five of us have created characters...the idea is that a story develops through the letters the characters write each other. Or something like that. We'll see how it goes!