Yesterday seemed to be a ladybug day. At this time of year, in this neck of the woods, ladybugs are drawn to warm buildings to nest until next year. Unlike the dreaded stink bugs, ladybugs are cute, little and make no smell. It is fun to look at all the different ones, I had no idea that some have spots and some don’t.
Yesterday was also trash day. This probably shouldn’t excite any of you (unless you are a somewhat off the wall South African lady who like to dress up to take the trash out) but for me it was a big day. You see, it was the first day of my penance for losing the weight-loss battle that my husband and I had set for ourselves. He (being a guy) seemed to slough off the 15 pounds with very little effort, and I (being a girl on a certain medication) trudged slowly to 10 pounds and stayed there. Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled that my husband has become svelte(r) and that I have lost a certain roundness to my frame. But taking out the trash is not my idea of fun. (I suppose that was the point wasn’t it?)
For us, taking out the garbage involves more than just rolling a trashcan to the curb. Our house is 1/4 mile from the road so the trashcan has to be hoisted into the back of the truck, driven out to the end of the driveway and dropped back on to the ground. Only then can you roll it to the, um, well, we don’t have a curb, we live in the country so it gets rolled onto the grass by the side of the road. Recycles get put out at the same time. Fortunately all of them can go in the same container so there is no pre-sorting. Today, the process will be reversed, although occasionally I take the dogs for a walk to get the mail and bring the can back on foot.
Do I sound like I am whining? That’s about right then. I am spoiled. I sometimes help with this task but most often, the trash magically disappears every week and I have not lifted a finger to help. I have only three more weeks of this and then I can go back to being a (thinner) princess.
Before I go, I will tell you that yesterday I also added pictures of the second basket onto my web-site, http://virginiasperry.com/non-tradition/ I’d love to hear your feedback if you get a chance to view it. It will be a while before the third one gets finished, it involves sewing and I feel about sewing the same way I feel about…you guessed it, taking out the trash.
My sister-in-law is an amazing woman. After raising her two children with her second husband, starting her own events design business, selling it and working for a nationally known company, she left work and went back to finally get her art degree. The woman does not NEED an art degree, she is already an amazing artist with a keen design eye. However, it’s a dream that she has held onto for many years and the time seemed ripe. (I forgot to mention that she has been primary caretaker for my mother-in-law for several years as well, a thankless, exhausting job on the best days.)
So when she and her husband John started posting something about a joint venture called 43 Trees on facebook, I was intrigued. I wasn’t too sure about it, but I understood it to be something about how many trees in one of their local parks was affected by Hurricane Sandy last year. It occurred to me that this was a good moment for my husband and I to run up to NJ (a three hour drive) and attend the opening of the exhibit.
We arrived at the Municipal building in Edison last night to find that the exhibit was hung in the hallway outside the mayor’s office. Said Mayor was not only in attendance but presented John and Deborah on a video that would be aired on local TV. (If you live in that area and see the video, look behind the podium and you will see my husband and me.)
It turns out, the number 43 comes from 43 years of Earth Day. The trees (or their remainders) were photographed by Deborah and John (who went back to school and got his own photography degree a few years ago). Each tree was then named and assigned a writer to write a poem or story to go along with that tree. The photos and writings were then framed and hung on the walls. In addition, Deb created some wonderful sculptures out of materials she found in the woods at the park and displayed them on pedestals around the hallway.
It was a wonderful way to honor the trees (wow, I feel like the Lorax at this moment). If you live in the Edison, NJ area (or are passing through on your way from point A to point B) I invite you to go to 100 Municipal Boulevard until January of 2014 to view it in person. You can even take a walk in the park and see the site of each tree. If you are elsewhere on this planet, go to their website and look at all 43 of the trees and read their words. I will share my favorite here on this post.
Charlotte, From French Stock August 1923
I’ve tried not to fall but what can I say? It’s inevitable? That this is the way we all end? I’ll hold on a bit, but then I’ll be just like Jesse over there, both of us on our backs, helpless. Then we’ll be the past. We’ll decompose, return to the earth. If it hadn’t been this storm, it would’ve been the next. And if not that, sooner or later, there’d be a change in outlook, a difference in values. Someone would’ve said the upkeep was too much, more land is needed for more housing stock, build a ball field, even a parking lot. Torn down, roots ripped right out, plowed under. At least this way, I can hang on for a week or two, a month if I’m lucky. I can watch my own demise and that of my friends and family.
I’ve been here for some time. Over ninety years, if I’m right. I got here from Pennsylvania, near Altoona. Carried on a breeze; yes, a breeze. And before that, from Acadia, up north. The stock originated in France. Near the border with Spain. Some time in the 1600s my forebears were carried over unknown by the Catholics, mixed in with some grain. Not just any Catholics, they were Jesuits, who’d declared they’d come to conquer souls. And we know how that went.
But imagine that! I’m French, and end up in New Jersey. Strange how we get to where we do, how the world turns, the events of history colliding against each other to create what seems like order. In the end, no matter how or why, we find the years have passed. And then, what? On our backs, or close to it, hanging on for one last look, a few more sunrises, a couple more breezes lighting on our remaining limbs. Only hoping one of them carries some part away, so we might somehow live, continue. Maybe regenerate.
I had a super wonderful day today. It was the kind of day where anything could happen and only good things did. AND I got to share it with a really good friend.
I wanted to go to the Renwick in DC to see an exhibit of baskets since I am back into the weaving mode in my artwork. Due to the gov’t shutdown, this was an impossibility for a couple of weeks, but fortunately, the exhibit is open again and will be until Dec. I invited my friend to go with me and we planned to spend the day in DC.
The morning started with having to do a little windshield wiping. Before I did it though, I took a picture of the lovely artwork my cat made on the condensation on my windshield.
I picked my friend up and drove to the Metro which we took into DC. We got off at Farragut North and walked down to the Renwick. It was a beautiful fall day, on the border between warm and chilly with a light breeze and a bluuuuuuuue sky. We got to the Renwick and spent two fascinating hours perusing the plethora of amazing baskets. The exhibit had 63 baskets, all by contemporary basket makers. Every basket was in a traditional mode but took the tradition to new and amazingly precise heights. We also got a bonus when we walked in to the museum because there was an exhibit of raku by Wayne Higby which was absolutely breathtaking. It was also a really nicely put together exhibit, showing the development of his pieces throughout his lifetime.
Needless to say, I also spent some time in the bookstore and came away with a book on baskets that I had never seen. It is not easy to find books on baskets, I’m not sure why, but I suspect it has to do with the fact that it is an art form that originated with a part of the population that was not always literate.
Leaving the Renwick, with a brain full of images and ideas, we walked to the other side of the White House and decided to go up to the top of the W Hotel where there is a lovely outdoor bar and lounge area. (In full disclosure, I was following my friend’s lead. I am woefully ignorant about certain parts of our nation’s capital and hope some day to be able to navigate it without looking at a map.) The lounge, called POV, had the best view of the White House in one direction and the Washington Monument in the other. I have to admit that I actually like the Monument better with the scaffolding. It seems much more interesting and much less like a phallic symbol.
After a delicious (but not inexpensive) sandwich, we walked over to the Old Post Office Building. I knew more than nothing about this building but I came away absolutely in love with it. Despite the security gate you have to go through (complete with X-ray machine for bags) this building is very accessible. The interior is awesomely funky and beautiful and the tour of the tower is free. From here you can see a 365 degree view of DC and there is an incredibly helpful and friendly park ranger to tell you what you are seeing. We asked lots of questions and saw buildings from a different view. In fact, I had never really realized what a European influence there was to some of the buildings until I saw them from above and saw the red roof tiles that are so common all over Europe.
The other new thing we learned is that the Congressional Bells that were given to the US by England in 1976 are situated in the PO tower. They are rung when Congress starts and finishes a session and at select other times. You can view them if you walk down from the tower instead of taking the elevator.
Once we left the PO Bldg (yes, we HAD to stop for a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream), we walked across the street and under the arch in the Clinton Bldg. There is a lovely courtyard there with a food court underneath.
You can also enter the Reagan Bldg (again, you have to go through a security checkpoint) and see what is there. We stopped at the “Concierge” desk. I asked what a concierge does in a building like that and she replied “everything”. Basically concierge is a glorified name for information desk. I was amazed at how open everything is and how friendly and full of information she was. You can get tours of the building on Mon, Wed and Fri.
And finally, before we left the building, the concierge pointed out that there was a piece of the Berlin Wall right in the entryway. Very cool.
We then walked up to the Metro station and headed home. One of the best things about the day was that, except for the cost of the metro and the food, everything was absolutely free. We just wandered around into buildings we had never been in before and found wonderful treasures that are slightly off the “best of” list. I thoroughly enjoyed this low key day and will treasure everything I saw and learned for a long time.
Yup, it’s another Key West post. I am writing this as I look out the window at a gray sky presiding over the greens, reds, yellows and browns of fall. It is a pleasure to be able to revisit the moments of bright purples, greens and turquoises that are inherent in tropical vegetation.
First in our quest for color is the fan palm. It is one of my favorite shapes and I love the color when it is backlit by the sun.
Next is the orchid. Our bed and breakfast had these attached to the trunks of some of the palm trees and they were absolutely gorgeous.
A small plant was tucked away on some rocks that used to be a fountain by the side of the pool. The water no longer flows, but the flowers are still very pretty. Such a delicate pink. Pink is not usually my favorite color, but I really like this one.
As I was waiting for the sun to set on the last night, I walked along the beach and found a whole bunch of Gazanias just hanging out. They are not native to Florida but they seem to have naturalized really well. I loved the little spots of color amongst the gray rocks.
And finally, my favorite tree, the Banyan tree. If you have never encountered one of these beauties, you will not know what it is like to stand under a tree that reaches its roots down from its branches in tendrils that are reminiscent of nerves spreading through the body. Eventually they find their way to the ground and bury themselves, giving the tree yet another place from which to get the water in the soil.
And I can’t resist adding a picture of one of the six-toed cats at Hemingway’s house. I ran around trying to pet as many of them as I could (they are mostly friendly). I love this particular picture.
While I loved being with all of our friends in Key West, I did take some quiet time for myself. Being an introvert always requires a juggling act with being social and being by myself. Fortunately, my camera is a really good excuse to take off by myself. Key West is a wonderful place to poke around and get some good pictures. The downtown area is designated as an Historical Area. The feeling stays the same, but the quirky residents find ways around the strictures to expand or decorate in order to feel unique. Because the island is so small, it doesn’t take long to change views. From pier to neighborhood is about two blocks. My pictures came from different days, on the water, next to the water, in my bedroom, walking through a neighborhood…some of them were taken with my Lumix and some were done with my iPhone…
P.S. If you want a sneak peek at my ribbon piece after it was painted, click here!
I just got back from Key West, Florida. If you are not familiar with this southern-most tip of the continental US, it is the last island of an archipelago that drips off the southern tip of Florida between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of … Continue reading Sunset