Needlework in gilt frames – Berlin wool work

Whenever I’m at a museum, I look for examples of needlework, either etched in stone or part of a painting. At the Kunsthalle Bremen, I found a portrait of Frau Medizinalrat Nicolai, from 1830. The artist was Georg Friedrich Adolph Schöner, and he used oil paint to portray her in clothing from the day — pointed lace collar, fitted brown silk dress, carefully crimped black hair. At her side is a small sewing box, with bits of colored wool or silks peeking out. In her lap, artfully displayed was this:

Detail from Schoner painting, Kunsthalle Bremen

Detail from Schoner painting, Kunsthalle Bremen


Thousands of Berlin work patterns made their way over to the USA and England back in the 1800s, and I wonder if this pattern is somewhere in someone’s attic? I’m sure there is already a treatise on the artful display of “women’s work” for the leisured classes in paintings of wealthy women. But I like to think this was the work she was doing while she sat for the portrait, and the artist wanted to add the color to the picture or an excuse to show off her wedding ring (her husband’s portrait is nearby).

A view of the portrait from the Kunsthalle website can be searched for here: Kunsthalle. So, when you’re traveling (on vacation, or taking little 11 hour “vacations” over the weekend), what do you look for when you’re in a museum? More photos later from Bremen and a trip to a gorgeous garden in Hamburg.


Garden Inspirations, Hampstead

 We went to a lovely garden nearby, at an estate called Hampstead. Lovely place to walk.

This photo was taken from a hillside that overlooks a patchwork of plantings. I think volunteers must work doublet time to fill these in every year. But it’s a lovely postage stamp effect from above.



Garden inspirations from my morning walk

The early morning beauty of hostas, nodding gently on stalks. Even when they’re right next to the street, they’re wonderful to look at in the early morning sunshine, before the day fades their colors.


The Perfume Collector – by Kathleen Tessaro

From the elegant cover of a woman in a red dress walking into a darkened room (a photo from the Condé Nast Archive) to the introduction of Grace Munroe, this novel provides a layered feeling, as though there’s more under the “layers” of the main character’s narrative. I spent much of my time wondering who Eva d’Orsay and why she left an inheritance to someone she didn’t know in London. The moment Grace gets the letter from the lawyers, complete with airline tickets to Paris, my brain was abuzz wondering what one should/could do in 1950s London if offered a mysterious bequest. And also, I wondered even more who the “perfume collector” actually was. The story takes one from Jazz Age to WWII and back to the 1950s — all in the pursuit of the motives and the story of the mysterious Eva.

If anyone else has read it, do you also wish there had been a “scratch ‘n sniff” section to the book, so one could smell the scents described? Or do you think it is better off to “wonder” which perfumes in real life the writer was alluding to?


Happy Independence Day

It’s a beautiful day outside, and I’m hopeful that the Capitol Fourth celebration has started today as scheduled. It should be broadcast tonight on the local PBS affiliate. It also gets broadcast around the world via Armed Forces Network to our service members, Department of Defense Civilians, etc. stationed at bases or on US Navy ships.

John Williams will be conducting. He has written a new score of the Star Spangled Banner to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the song.

It features a patriotic combination of talent including the Joint Armed Forces Chorus, the Choral Arts Society of Washington, the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, the National Symphony Orchestra and cannons.” Article by Jessica Gelt in the LA Times.

I’m looking forward to this. It sounds exciting.

I’m glad Hurricane Arthur decided to give us only buckets of rain, although driving yesterday was really awful. Hopefully New England battens down the hatches, and can enjoy delayed fireworks displays. (If you’re ever in Boston during Independence Day, the Boston Pops concert is wonderful. Although it looks like they had to move forward the concert to yesterday this time.) Just a lovely time to be outdoors, if the hurricane isn’t nearby, and enjoy the best weather on the East coast of the USA.

Knitting of cowls, baby hats, and other things

Leaf lace baby hat

Leaf lace baby hat

I’m in the process of knitting the Feather and Fan cabled cowl, just finished off a few baby hats for charity… and wonder why I’m picking up so much knitting. Possibly because the concert I’ve been prepping for since December was finished last Saturday. And now, things feel a bit empty. Being surrounded by a composer’s dream is kind of weird and overwhelming. And now I want to sing the whole piece again, to see if it’s the same.

So, I’m knitting. The hat on the left was called “Leaf Hat”, and its for a 2- to 3-month old. It was in the March 2014 Newsletter from Carewear Volunteers Inc.

Thoughts after singing a premiere work in concert

Our LGBTS community chorus did the premiere of a new piece of music by Nathan Hall (I am in Love with the World), and now I’m sorting out my feelings about it. It was like 40 of my friends all chose to go out on a vocal tightrope, and trust that we were singing the music the way the composer wanted, based on the thoughts of our director, who had only heard the notes played on piano/electric keyboard. It’s based on Maurice Sendak’s words (not his creations), and many of us are fans of his work — The Night Kitchen, Where the Wild Things Are. So we wanted to do justice to his life with an amazing 15 minutes of song. Continue reading ‘Thoughts after singing a premiere work in concert’

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