I wandered lonely as a cloud

daffdilsketchThere have been gusts of golden daffodils at the back door. I sat and sketched one at the back door on Saturday, before the snow came and crumpled their petals. And still, they bloom on.

 

Getting ready for Easter

Getting ready for Easter

Lots of singing (not for Easter or Palm Sunday exactly), but I was in church, anticipating a short drive to see family. The location really looked like the inside of an Easter diorama. A Byzantine sugar egg diorama, like something out of a 1940s or 1950s illustration. This picture, unfortunately only taken with a cell phone. Glorious location. I just wanted to get on a ladder to see the stenciling more closely (stencils all around the arches of the windows, in the arches on the vaulted ceiling, in the half dome above the mosaic cross). Lots of Byzantine/Victorian Moorish style architecture in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington DC. I’ve seen more of it in Scranton, PA. I’m not sure about further in the east coast of the USA or if it spread out to the midwest at least. I’ve seen a couple of synagogues and temples further south that seem to have caught the trend too. It would be interesting to know if it was because of literature from the time, or maybe a World Fair, or travels to England.

Travels on the bookshelf: Czechoslovakia

Melnik, the wine town of Czechoslovakia, lies due north of Prague, and about a hour away by road. We left town by way of Karlin and Kobylisy, skirting the bend of the Vltava, and climbed out of the valley to rolling upland villages, leaving the military airfield away on our right hand. The factories of the north-eastern suburbs slipped behind us, and there was the true Bohemia, the clean, colour-washed houses, the ponds and greens and orchards of a garden and meadow country, made for the sun and the summer; and the day was opening in warm splendour, the very day for which the land was made. Strips of poppies, white and red, the white tinted at the roots of the petals with mauve, made gay patterns across the fields; geese were encamped in the stony beaches of ponds like miraculous drifts of fresh snow.” — Edith Pageter, The Coast of Bohemia.

It took me a while to get “into” this book’s writing style, since it isn’t like other books of Edith Pageter’s that I’ve read (the Brother Cadfael series). But now I’ve come back to the read it again, and to read it less like a history book of what Czechoslovakia was like right after WWII, and more like a time travel book. It’s worth reading, if only for the stories of misadventures (such as a tall fellow traveler who suffers when they can’t get seats on the bus because he scrapes his head on the roof while standing unless they’re lucky if it’s a “tall” bus). Or descriptions of what people at the time thought were important “sights” to show the author when she visited.

So, what books are you traveling through on your bookshelves? Are you getting any ideas for actual travels, or are you “revisiting” places by rereading books or novels?

I think next on my list is a Victorian travelogue about the Isle of Scilly, if I can find the book.

A wintry depression is in town

crocusesStill gusty outside. There’s still snow. But we had daffodils starting in the sun trap, right before the last blast of snow. I picked one so it could bloom in the kitchen. I know there are crocuses under the snow, because I took a picture of them in full bloom on Saturday, when we had a nice day. This evening, even though it was cold outside there was enough light for a quick walk outside with the Gardener, before things got too cold. We’re trying not to let the winter become too depressing. It’s still March, after all, and its often weird with icky weather.

At least I’m not in Cape Cod. Or further north. Right now, it’s just cold with warmer, rainy weather scheduled for the weekend.

Small town America and Easter

There’s something about small town America that I’m not sure exists in other countries (but I could be wrong). My Mom grew up in a small town in the Midwest, moved 580 miles or so to a small city on the East coast, and then I moved south to the big city for college. While at college, I became homesick at Easter, and couldn’t find a church from my home denomination, so I went to the closest denomination I knew (Methodist, which had been my Mom’s church). I was 69 further miles away from where my Mom had started (close t0 700 miles) and someone greeted me with, “Aren’t you –’s daughter?” When I think back on that woman (who was possibly only 10 years older than I am now), I smile. She gave me a small shock, but she may have known my mother.

The Methodist denomination is not small. At the time, it felt like there was an unseen pathway of information, almost like ants carrying wild ginger seeds underground to eat, and starting a colony in a place you don’t expect. There is a strong tug underneath the whole story — the triumph of small town America, where we tell family members back home about a visit to Central Park in New York City, and they ask “did you see the Jones boy? I hear he’s in the Bronx now.” There’s an eternal optimism that people don’t get lost, they just turn up… and coincidences are amazing but not as unusual as you think. Sometimes, to those of us who feel like we’ve escaped the small town, it feels like ghost tracks in our hearts, like we’re not as anonymous as we think. But other times, it’s incredibly reassuring even if we are hardworking college students and not prodigal sons.

Rollercoaster weather

SeadragonThe eastern half of the USA is suffering from roller coaster weather. Vermont got snow, and those of us further south have a sudden warm up tomorrow, followed by the threat of snow flurries and cold next week. Everyone I know either has a cold, or a desperate desire to sleep until spring. But still, fig leaves are showing up on branches, snow drop blossoms are in the yard, and we almost have some daffodils by the south facing wall. I’m hoping to spend some time outdoors in the sun, and try to find out if the hellebores are blooming now that the snow has melted. And the spring concerts are beginning. It’s going to be a very busy singing season.

(The picture on the right is from a lovely trip to the shore during the non-winter months of another year. Can’t find my picture of the old coaster at Dorney Park…. wow, we loved that thing. All wood, with amazing creaks and clicks that convinced you that death was imminent.)

Modern artists and craftspeople

These days, when everything seems to be going digital, there are people still working time-honored crafts, wielding a paintbrush, or creating pottery. They’re creating art, and managing to make a career or vocation out of it.

Recent finds:

  • Check out Pellinore Press for their Greeting cards. There’s a lovely one of two owls, made with wood engraving.
  • An artist in London is crafting cans of Spam and sticks of Wrigley’s Chewing gum out of felt to stock an abandoned corner shop. Read about Lucy Sparrow’s Corner Shop at FastCoDesign.
  • Detroit has a Craft Map. No, honestly — this is seriously cool. Check out Handmade Detroit for info about where to buy supplies, meet indie artists, and more. (Do other cities have the same thing? Let me know!)
  • If you’re ever in Racine, Wisconsin, visit the RAM and its fabulous American Craft Collection. Prints by Frank Boyden are really amazing, and on view until early June.
  • J.M. Syron and Bonnie Bischoff create furniture inlaid with polymer clay. It’s more interesting in real life, but worth a visit to their website.

I’m sure there are artists and craftspersons in every city putting their brushstrokes on the world. These are just a few things that I noticed. I’ll probably be focusing on Spring in the next few days. We might have seasonal weather, someday. The snow’s almost gone, at least.


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