February 14, 2009

God Knew What to give me for Valentine's Day

More snow.

An oh-so-friendly and soft kitty cat who hangs out with us but we don't have to take care of or let in the house.

A back yard.


JECubSnow Mix together and you get: playtime with kitty in the snow. Seriously, she likes it. She's very social and her owners appear to be away for the week. So she's full-time at our place. Napping in the winter garden, being patted, eating, drinking, playing in the snow with us. She's ever so well-behaved.

Where is My Actual Human Valentine during all this, you might ask? Baking me his traditional, multi-step, complicated (but worth it, indeedy) cookies in between battling the flu with naps and Tylenol. Aw. We'll see if the flu lets him get to the last step of a final product today or not. I brought him up some freshly blended banana-strawberry-blueberry-vanilla yogurt smoothie this morning; hopefully pumping him full of vitamins to fight with.

DrSeussSnowTower Happy Valentine's Day to you - may you know that you are loved with an enormous love today, by the one who fashioned you in the womb before anyone else knew you. Hopefully by some other people too, but that's a good start anyway. :-)

Some favorite music today, from the Windham Hill Windows album:

In Flight - by Michael Allen Harrison
Children's Song - by Øystein Sevåg
A Morning with the Roses - by Richard Dworsky
If you Believe - by Jim Brickman

I shoveled the driveway for the third day running today - and it's been lightly snowing all day. Have I mentioned that I love snow? I love shoveling it, looking at it, playing in in, sledding and skiing on it, touching it, noticing it, living where it can occur... yesterday I measured the snow in the back yard with a firm ruler and found 18cm / 7" !

And for my last comment: watch Kit Kittredge - it's a lovely movie for kids, with
- Julia Ormond (of the 1995 Sabrina with Harrison Ford)
- Abigail Breslin (from Nim's Island and The Ultimate Gift)
- Stanley Tucci (of The Terminal)
- Joan Cusack
- an actor from the Princess Bride whom you will recognize before you see him.

Some other fun surprises. Don't read too much about it.

CubByJCloseUpSnowECubSnow CubSnowBackYardTowers 
P.S. Photo credit of the close-up kitty shot goes to Jason. Thanks, J!

February 14, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 18, 2008

Cards from Calendars

I had fun this afternoon making 56 simple greeting cards by cutting up old calendars and gardening catalogs. Therapeutic for someone who loves colors and flowers and correspondence. Here is my yield (the cards are lying on envelopes):

February 18, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 22, 2008

Other Art in the Kitchen

Emilyschocolatecakeartage9Jason's salads in the previous post were a form of culinary art.

Meanwhile, on the wall in the kitchen is Emily's latest artwork from school: chalk pastel chocolate cakes!

And on the window sill is an orchid plant I haven't managed to kill yet (happily living with us since November 3rd when we received it as a thank you gift for some volunteer work related to school).

January 22, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 08, 2007

Birgit's Artwork

BirgitsartworkMonths ago, my friend Birgit in Idaho made a startling offer on her web log.

I took her up on it, and she made good on it.

Here is the promised "artwork that is in some way about you."

It's our little family! I love it!

Thank you so much, Birgit.

You are very talented.

Not to mention generous and kind and creative.

March 8, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 02, 2006

The National Gallery, London

TrafalgarAnother thing I didn't know about London: The National Gallery (of Classic Art) is located in Trafalgar Square (webcam link which updates every 5 seconds!). So is Nelson's Column, which was completely enshrouded in scaffolding during our visit (and still is, as you can see on the webcam if you look during London's daylight hours, 5-8 hours ahead of the continental U.S.). These are all familiar names to me, but I wasn't aware of how they interacted. Standing on the front steps of the Gallery, looking beyond Nelson's Column, one sees Big Ben in the distance. By the way, if you want to know why Lord Nelson deserves such a prominent column all to himself:

"Admiral Nelson [...] won four notable naval battles, at the personal cost of losing an arm and one eye. Nelson's last and most famous battle was fought off the Spanish cape of Trafalgar, when he defeated Napoleon and the French and Spanish fleets; during which he lost his life, dying aboard H.M.S. Victory."

As we toured the National Gallery, Emily took notes and Jason made detailed sketches of whatever drew his attention, be it a picture frame, an architectural shape, or a painted weapon. Visitors are not allowed to take any photos, which means you actually have to LOOK at the artwork! I found that an interesting phenomenon, being forced to spend time just looking rather than doing any photography. Being forced to do what I ought to be doing anyway, taking in the masterpieces with my own eyes and nothing in between. In Paris at the Louvre and the Musée d'Orsay, this is not the case, since photos are allowed.

NatlgalleryceilingNatlgallerymosaicBefore I discovered the camera rule, I took a few shots of the entrance hall, which is particularly beautiful: marble Corinthian columns, mosaic floors, a domed skylight, and red, blue, white and gold patterns on the upper walls and ceilings. Pink stargazer lily arrangements imbued the air with a delightful fragrance.

Just now I found out that the NG's website hosts photos of their complete collection. Pretty cool. Some of the artworks of which we took particular notice:
- Rembrandt's Self Portrait at the Age of 34 (my age in a few days, only he was 34 in 1640; that's a pretty old painting).
- Rubens' Samson and Delilah (quite an attention-getting chest on her, and really enormous muscles on him, about to have his hair cut off, with soldiers waiting at the door to capture him)
- Vermeer's A Young Woman Standing at a Virginal (an instrument like a piano)
- Leonardo da Vinci's "The Virgin of the Rocks" (very, very dark - Jason sketched the golden picture frame!)
- Van Gogh - Sunflowers. Cool. His Chair, which Jason sketched.
- Dégas: After the Bath, Woman Drying Herself.
- Cézanne: Landscape with Poplars
- Monet: Irises (a new one I hadn't seen before, big and with an olive green swath in the middle); Water Lily Pond (with bridge perfectly arching over pond); Houses of Parliament at Sunset (fun to see while in London where they really are)
- Picasso, from his blue period: Child with a Dove) - we especially noticed since Jason had done a project on this artist's pink and blue periods, and their significance, in his art class at school this year.
- Seurat - "Bathers at Asnières" striking skin complexion/color.
- Cassatt, Manet
- My new favorite painting of the week: Lake Keitele, which is apparently North of Helsinki, by Akseli Gallen-Kallela (Finnish version) / Axel Gallén (Swedish version). This artist heretofore unknown to me lived 1865-1931. This painting draws me in, makes me want to be there: lake and mountains and island, the peace and beauty, the stillness, the quiet...

We didn't even get around to Michelangelo, Botticelli, or Raphael...just too much to see, and limited patience from children and all eight of our feet. Blog readers' comments have already indicated this museum is a favorite, but personally I still prefer the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. ;-)

Some of Jason's sketches, including Van Gogh's chair, Picasso's dove boy, and the picture frame around Leonardo's Virgin of the Rocks:

May 2, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 26, 2006

Olive Tree Story

BaillarguesmuralIn our village of Baillargues, France (about 5000 inhabitants), there is one mural. I drive past it at least twice daily, as it is prominently placed on the route between the kids' two schools.

The olive tree is real, as is the large tilted urn. But the sand, sea, scroll, steps and column are painted on the wall.

OlivetreestoryThe scroll tells the story of the naming of Athens after Athena as opposed to Poseidon, due to Athena's gift being the more useful one: the first olive tree.

They are really big on olives around here: every pizza carries them (luckily whole ones, easy to remove for non-fans), and people participating in scavenger hunts are expected to be able to name a few different local varieties, such as the "picholine" and the "lucques."

January 26, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 11, 2006

Magic Drawing

Jason's art teacher here in France posted an animation of a fun little drawing Jason made. His is not the one with the tongue sticking out, rather the Christmas tree being lit...

January 11, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 07, 2006

A Monet Year

MagpieMy sister-in-law (who also lives in France, but four hours north) gave me a cool daily calendar for Christmas - every day in 2006 I get to see a different Monet painting, in color! It tells me when he painted it, the medium, and where it is now located. Sprinkled through the year are some B&W photos of Monet himself as well. I love Monet, as N knows, from reading this here blog.

My favorite featured painting so far is from January 2nd: The Magpie (see left). David took this photo on a Musée d'Orsay visit in September 2004. Notice the top of Emily's head :-)

From the calendar I am also learning the words for the days of the week in German, and how to say holiday names in eight languages. I love Europe. Thanks, N.

January 7, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack