Monday, September 29, 2008

Sculpture Garden

One of my favorite things on Kelleys Island is Charles Herndon's sculpture garden.  It's located on the east side of the island, south of the airport - hidden waaaay back there.  

I became acquainted with his work when I was doing a project for the Natural History Museum that featured works created from glacial erratics.

He had a number of female nudes that appeared to be cast in concrete, and the human form is often abstracted in some of his other pieces as well.

A number of other works are large red or black abstract shapes, but I'm particularly fond of this one. I have a weakness for the quattrofoil shape.

This bell is spectacular. I can't imagine what it must weigh... The sound (when you wack the wooden ram against it) is clear and resonant and beautiful.

I like to think that someday, when I have a garden that's my own, I'll fill it with art as well.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Little Opera Man

On this, the opening night of Le nozze di Figaro, I present to you a tenor-in-training.

Having my best friend and her newly expanded family in town reminds me of something I read recently - that feeling cared for is a survival requirement.

So true, so easy to forget.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Physical Meditation

In the past year, I kept befriending people who regularly practice meditation.

I've tried it - sitting on the floor -silent- trying to clear my mind. I've even experienced moments where there was nothing but my counting (I do that instead of Om-ing). But meditation never really worked for me. I was never really sure what I was supposed to get out it.

I know that I like other forms of meditation. How I feel at the end of yoga class, in the guided meditation, or in the silent times during the UU service on Sundays.

I like it, I like it alot, and I know with all the changes I'm experiencing that quiet meditation is something I need to do more of.

Off subject, but related - I've returned to regular workouts at the gym this month.
It's been about a year.

I was inspired by the realization that I no longer felt like I was inhabiting my body.

I used to have a very physical career - climbing scaffolding, carrying artifacts around, basically on my feet all day and constantly aware of my three-dimensionality. Something about that made me walk taller and feel more at home as me, and after I went into administrative work, I felt that my body and my mind seemed to be at odds. When my body was happy at work, my mind was often bored, but my mind was challenged, I found my body losing its necessity - a brain in a jar.

That said, I knew it was time to go back to the gym. I don't mind working out, but for whatever reason, I usually come up with reasons to skip it.

This time, it's been different. This time, working out has been like meditation.

Swimming is especially mind-clearing. Tonight, I found a rhythm with my breathing, stokes and kicks that seemed lock my body into a perpetual motion machine.

It was...


I always said somewhere inside me was an athlete - but I never thought that physicality could be a path to clarity - its own form of meditation.

Monday, September 22, 2008

You who knows love

Tonight, watching a rehearsal for Marriage of Figaro, I read the supertitles for my favorite aria, Voi che sapete and was surprised at the universality of human emotion, namely, love and loss. 250 years ago, it was the same thing...

We all think our experience is uniquely ours and the pinnacle of being.
Alas, those who have gone before have already loved as deeply and lost as much.

Even post-modern Euro-trash conceptualism can't mask the universality.


I like porn now and then - in conversations with friends, I've argued that it's a healthy part of being human.

This, however, is an interesting stance on how its availability has made men less libidinous...

Monday, September 15, 2008

I'll never be cold again

Today was our first real autumn day.
Crisp, with a chill in the air.

I went with a friend to the mall to look at dresses for a wedding and Heavens! there are coats everywhere.

I hemmed and hawed about this coat, but decided that I haven't bought a new, professional, well-made piece of outwear in years.
It fit beautifully and had lovely details: princess seams, pleated collar and gathered bell sleeves.

Here's me trying the "self-portrait" thing... (not so much)

I dragged out the duct tape dress form for a better pic...

Then I tried to shove it into the outwear portion of my closet and HOLY HELL, I have alot of coats. Mostly vintage. All for "dress up." Once more, it's all about the story...

For piloting a Gypsy Moth across the Sahara.

For my days as a Cambridge academic.

For man-eating moments in The City

But wait - THERE'S MORE

Roaring 20s or 1960s Greenwich Village folk scene?

Classic leopard for keeping me warm in my LBD... where'd I put my cigarette holder?

Winter white, for my purer moments.

Perfect plaid for picking apples (as Katherine Hepburn).

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Song to dance around the kitchen to

Based on a tune from Rossini's Barber of Seville, but so much more dance-able!

Vacation Project (Part I)

So last week was my first week-long vacation in three years.
I stayed at my uncle's cabin on Kelleys Island - three days alone and the rest of the week with my parents since dad starts chemo in a week.

Nineteen years ago, he was into basket-making, and got charmed by Nantucket Lightship Baskets.
He made his first baskets while on vacation at the cabin, and I told him I wanted to learn how (on an island - it only seemed natural).

We started the weekend before I left, ordering supplies, digging out the molds and making the bottoms and ears.

Making the basket bottom

Before you start, you have to whittle down the ribs... he remembered that last time he built a jig and did it on an electric sander... this time all hand done.

Shaping the ribs

So here are the finished ribs, in one of his original baskets, with the mold in the background.

Once the tips are shaped, you soak them and place in a groove in the bottom. We kind of free-handed this, but it turned out well. Then you have to secure the bottom and ribs to the mold... very nitsy work.

Ribs secured to mold

Finally, you have to bend the ribs (while keeping them wet... and evenly spaced... and in the groove) and secure with a band to let them dry to the shape of the mold.

Molding the ribs

More in the next post, Blogger seems to have a photo limit...

Vacation Project (Part II)

So where were we?

Baskets. Yes.

So we started weaving the basket.
Again, nitsy work.
You have to whittle down the end and get it secured in the groove with the ribs... lots of detailed, swear-inducing work (at least for my dad).

The first couple of rows are tense, trying to get them woven tightly, making sure the ribs stay in the groove, keeping the damn thing damp and working with a 36" piece of cane that tends to twist and break.

Starting to weave

Weaving went fairly quickly, he'd weave while I went swimming or for a bike ride, I'd weave while he read or took a nap. It was done before we knew it!

Almost done

We got it off the mold and attached the rim to keep its shape. And then...


The next morning my father picked up the dry basket and POP - the bottom fell out!

My theory is that the ribs got loose around the mold, so we were weaving the whole thing 1/4" larger, which was fine when the basket was wet and the wood was expanded (I'm really stifling the urge to make a shrinkage joke here - come on! WET WOOD GETS LARGER??? Who can resist!)

Anyway, when the wood dried, the rim, approximately 1/4" larger than the mold, pulled the ribs out of the groove.

My solution (after rending my clothes and gnashing my teeth) was to create a new bottom, about 1/4" LARGER and instead of a groove, split that thing in two, put it in place and glue it together.

I'll let you know how it turns out.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Tonight I went to Lago in Tremont.

I always, ALWAYS forget about this place.
It was MoJo when I moved here, became Theory (which I loved loved loved, especially for the raw bar) and then closed.

I was working out of an office in that building when Lago was moving in and I took offense to their Painters' Tape Blue sign.

I've been there 3 times this summer - once for a birthday dinner (duck confit ravioli), once for pre-SATC happy hour (don't recall through haze of wine) and again tonight.

We did the Happy Hour at the bar: half price drinks and a decent wine list along with half price apps and salads.

We split the Arugula salad... melon, goat cheese and crispy prosciutto (plus if you say you're splitting, they'll even plate it up for 2 in the kitchen).
Next time I'll get one for myself.

We followed with the Tuna Carpaccio, which is just tuna tartare with an Italian name (but always a winner) and the Lago Pizza, a flatbread with smoked mozz, coppa and fresh tomatoes. This was SPECTACULAR, but only if you love salty crispy cured pork.

All told: 4 drinks and 3 plates was $48... not bad for a full belly, a satisfied palate and hell of a buzz on.

I need to remember not to forget this place, a mere block from home, next time I'm looking for a good, quick meal.

Fun with Sincerity

I love the oldie-timey candy called Valomilk.
I'm a total latecomer to marshmallow, but I have all the zeal of a convert and I found my faith in 'shallow filled chocolate cups available through places like the Vermont Country Store.

According to a recent catalog , their slogan is...

"If it runs down your chin, you know it's a Valomilk!"


Um... yeah... if it runs down my chin I - uh - think I... um... need a tissue.



Monday, September 1, 2008

Bainbridge Scarf

When I was on a homespun yarn buying jag, I picked up this skein called "Prep School."
It was all rugby shirt colors: red & white and yellow & grey and yellow & red.
It was enough to make me get out my spankies, start an eight-count and do a Herkie.

Anyway, sometimes a colorway just doesn't knit up as well as you hope it will.

I chose Pepperknit's Bainbridge Scarf - easy and unique and good for about 100 yards of yarn.

So this was the first attempt.
See how pretty the ball is... I had such high hopes.

I thought maybe it would better if the colors were more closely stacked...


It'll still be winsome with a navy peacoat on a crisp fall day.

See how winsome (more the model than the scarf, natch).