Friday, January 16, 2009

...and though the news was rather sad

Tonight while listening to the BBC, I heard the news that Andrew Wyeth had passed away in his sleep at the age of 91. What an incredibly talented artist. This painting Ground Hog Day is how I came to understand the work of Andrew Wyeth.

When I returned to school to study landscape architecture in the fall of 2007, the first class of this new path in my life was a course, "Drawing, Seeing, Sketching". Because I had never had any formal drawing instruction, I was petrified. My classmates were 5th year students, most with incredible drawing talent. Every week we pinned up our work and talked about the process of creating our particular drawing.

Our first assignment was to choose an artist, then select one of his/her works of art, and draw it. I chose Andrew Wyeth and I selected Ground Hog Day. The professor told me the only way I would master drawing was to draw. So I did. I got lost in that wallpaper; I would lurk in the shadows cast over the creamy mouldings and out onto the wall. I would lose track of time staring out the window unto the worn tracks that wound around up the hill. My 6B and 8B Staedtlers carried the weight of the heavy logs that lay splintered in the sawdust on rutted ground. I became obsessed when laying down the brittleness of the grass that covered the hillside and disappeared into the trees.

Even tonight, a year and a half later, I don't need to look at Ground Hog Day to write about the process of drawing this artwork. I learned to turn off my brain, to get out of the way, and let my eyes tell my hand what to draw. It was almost spiritual. And that is what I understand Andrew Wyeth's body of work to be.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

a hot cuppa joe

In response to Elizabeth's post today, I decided to post a foto of my favorite mug. It's the one I grab every morning to start my day. It's big and clunky, a far cry from bone china. But it has a story and I'm stickin' with it.

When my mom passed away, now almost two years ago (I still cannot believe my mom died...), my sisters and I holed up every weekend to sort and part out my mother's things. It had been a rough couple of weeks. One afternoon when we were working in the kitchen, we found an unopened bottle of tequila hidden behind the pancake mix. For some reason, there were fresh limes in the fruit bowl on the counter. Limes, tequila, salt and ice. What more could one ask for, other than something from which to drink these fresh margaritas? Earlier, I had found this mug in the cupboard and had set it aside, wondering why my mother had kept this, when all her other cups and mugs were fine bone china. There had to be a story behind this ugly duckling, but none of us knew. So I grabbed it, and drank my margaritas from it for the rest of the afternoon. It came home with me that weekend and now it holds my coffee every morning. I still don't have a clue as to how it came into my mom's kitchen, or why it held a spot among the finery in that cupboard, but the weight of it in my hand is my mother's presence every morning sending me off into my day.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Let's talk about the weather....

How many times have I shoveled in the past week? Out again this morning to remove another four inches off the drive and walk. Our neighbors have a mountain of white stuff off to the side of their drive. It is the only spot they can put the snow. The pile has to be eight feet tall!!!!

I walked to class at noon, thinking that it had to have warmed up some, but the temp was only up to 0 degrees. Because I was heading into the northwest wind, I quickly began to rethink my decision to walk. Twenty minutes, bundled to the gills, and I was praying for a bus to come along. My husband gave me a camel hair coat for my birthday last July--one he purchased on eBay. The day I opened his present, it was close to 100 degrees. I remember thinking that I will never wear this. But I wore it today and was grateful. It kept me toasty from neck to knees, but my cheeks, nose, and eyes hurt by the time I finally found shelter in Agronomy Hall. When I walked part-way home tonight after class, about one and a half blocks from the bus stop to our house, it was even colder than this afternoon! Brittle cold with brutal winds. I fear for all the college kiddies I saw running around campus today without their hats and mitts.

My daughter just informed me that they canceled school tomorrow because of the cold. Forecasts for minus 25 (actual) degrees overnight and tomorrow morning. A record for this date. Baby, it's cold outside!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What's for Supper??

With temps in negative territory for most of the day, it seemed like a great day for a pot of soup simmering on the stove. What's a bowl of chili without hot, skillet corn bread served with homemade butter and warm honey?

Speaking of honey, when I opened my laptop to post this foto, I decided to first post to the Gardener's Bed-Book calendar (right column). Guess what the entry for today is about? Bee hives and honey! With my fingers still sticky from my honey-drenched, slice of cornbread, I offer...

The Ancient Bee Hive
From the earliest time the garden had its bee hives and the keeping of bees was accounted a necessary part of the gardener's work. In those days honey was the only means of sweetening food and drink.
-Richardson Wright in Another Gardener's Bed-Book

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pan of Frogs...flower frogs that is

I started collecting flower frogs about 20 years ago when I retired from the freight business and decided to become a gardener. One day at a garbage sale, I picked up a small, beautiful gold-paper box. Upon opening it, I found four tiny, copper "pin" flower frogs. They were so delicate-looking, only one-square inch in size, but boy, were they sharp!
In 1940, a patent was issued describing this item as "a holder of flowers that sat in water like a frog." Thus the name stuck. Vintage flower frogs have become a hot collectible over the past 15 years. They are cataloged as glass, pottery, and metal. Flower frogs have been used for centuries under many different names such as pin frogs, kenzan, or flower spikes. Many flower frogs rest on the rim of vases and bowls to hold stems in floral arrangements. Other types sit at the bottom of a vase to secure the stems. I have noticed the large, round "candlelites" as pen/pencil holders. The pin types hold business cards or photos. I like to do "frog arrangements" using old porcelain casserole pans.