‘Make a Joyful Noise’ at the High Museum in Atlanta, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Cover Art

Here’s one small detail that’s gorgeous enough to be cover art It’s from an illuminated book of chants for the Mass for Florence Cathedral, currently part of the exhibition Make A Joyful Noise at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta GA (USA). The lamb gets a place of honor as the emblem of the Wool Guild that supervised and subsidized the cathedral project.

Florence Italy, "Dedication of Florence Cathedral" detail.The lamb is the emblem of the Wool Guild that supervised and subsidized the cathedral project.

“Dedication of Florence Cathedral” detail.

Now let’s back up and put that lamb in context. Can you find it?

Dedication of Florence Cathedral Gradual, Edili 151, fols. 7v–8r, 1470-1471 Ink, tempera, and gold leaf on parchment Collection of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Florence

Dedication of Florence Cathedral;
Gradual, Edili 151, fols. 7v–8r, 1470-1471;
Ink, tempera, and gold leaf on parchment.
Collection of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Florence, This photo courtesy of the High Museum of Art, Atlanta GA

I can’t decide if I’m more transported by the heavenly blue, by the gold that’s glimmered through the centuries in candlelight and shadow, or by the intricate bird and flower drawings in the border. The three choir books in this exhibition have survived for over 500 years, much of that time in use.

Here’s another photo for context — these are not small books. In the 15th century, one illuminated book could take years to construct, making it too precious for individual use as a hymnal. These giant books were mounted on lecterns above eye-level for use by more than one person.

Choir books from Florence Cathedral

Stepping back for an exhibition overview.

Now for a closer look. What more proof do we need that God is in the details? There’s an energy flowing through the dark inked lines that decorate the golden buds. They rhyme with the combs on the heads of the birds. It’s there again in the white lines that curl over colored leaves. The forms connect and entwine and meander, and somehow make me gladder than ever to be part of life on earth.

Fabulous birds and flowers:  Francesco di Antonio del Chierico  Italian, 1433-1484 Dedication of Florence Cathedral Gradual, Edili 151, fols. 7v–8r, 1470-1471 Ink, tempera, and gold leaf on parchment Collection of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Florence

I love these fabulous birds.

Another fabulous bird:  Francesco di Antonio del Chierico  Italian, 1433-1484 Dedication of Florence Cathedral Gradual, Edili 151, fols. 7v–8r, 1470-1471 Ink, tempera, and gold leaf on parchment Collection of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Florence

Another manuscript shows the wear of daily use – years upon years of fingers turning pages to sing the Hours — as well as water damage from the Nov 4 1966 flood which reached the Cathedral and many other historical treasures in Florence.

Psalm 81 Psalter N. 2, n. 3, fols. 117v-118r, ca. 1439 Ink and tempera on parchment Collection of the Archivio dell'Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence

Psalm 81
Psalter N. 2, n. 3, fols. 117v-118r, ca. 1439
Ink and tempera on parchment
Collection of the Archivio dell’Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence

I’ve focused here on the manuscripts, but they’re just part of an exhibition that includes three of the marble panels from Luca Della Robbia’s organ loft, also from Florence Cathedral. The audio guides feature music from transcriptions of the medieval notation. Live performances will be scheduled throughout the exhibition, which is on view through January 11, 2015.

I’m already overloading this post, so I’ll just include a few more pictures and say “see it!” (the following photos of Luca della Robbia work courtesy of the High Museum of Art)

(If you’re reading this in email and have an extra minute, please click through to the blog for a better view of the marble sculpture.)

And yes, I’ve taken a little time off from downsizing but I’m still getting there bit by bit, and sometimes an ‘art fix’ is exactly what’s needed to get recharged. Um, too bad I won’t be finding any 500 year old illuminated manuscripts in my basement. Or at least I don’t think I will…

 Have you had an art fix lately?

Related links:

For more on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Cover Art

For the High’s exhibition site

Dreamy Landscapes, Cleaning up the Compost Bins, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Dreamy

When I took this photo I thought it was dreamy enough to be a study for a painting. It’s from a long-ago photo expedition to Germany and Belgium, taking pictures for a program my brother was working on. If this one had a title it would be “Somewhere in Bavaria” since I no longer remember exactly where we were. I just remember saying, “oooh, quick, pull over and let me take a picture.”

Evening landscape, Germany

Evening landscape, Germany – in the Swabian Jura, and in case you’re wondering, it was long before photoshop, so this was the real color.

I have boxes and boxes of slides (remember slides?). And besides my own, I have boxes of Bob’s slides, and boxes of Bob’s father’s slides. The bad news is, the only ones I have a projector for are mine. There is a big sorting job in my future.

I think this next one is from the same trip, but since it was a while ago that I pulled it out and scanned it, I can’t be sure unless I go back to those boxes (not gonna happen today).

German or Swiss Landscape with full moon

Small town, big moon, Germany or Switzerland.

Fast-forwarding a couple of decades, here’s Sam in a dreamy landscape, on last year’s stopover in Iceland.

Sam - Iceland Geysir tour

Man of Mystery on an Iceland Geysir tour – with a little steam to stay warm on a cold day.

Now for a segue, proving dreamy is as dreamy does – yesterday (a holiday, yet) he came over and cleaned out my compost bins so they’re ready for the fall onslaught of leaves. It’s hard to believe that mountain of leaves from last fall has composted so well over the summer. Since I no longer have a traditional lawn, we’re using up a leftover bag of lawn fertilizer, a handful at a time, to speed along the process. All the credit for composting progress goes to Sam. I’ve delegated far too much since my last year’s incident with the yellow-jackets, and I’m vowing now to do better in future — no more wimpy yellow-jacket avoidance for me.

Compost bins, contents combined into one bin

Compost bins in the rain today – that’s a good thing! By tomorrow the contents will shrink down even more.

The acorns were falling so fast we needed hardhats. I’m going to be in big trouble when they start sprouting in the spring.

Too many acorns

Maybe having so many squirrels around will turn out to be a good thing.

 I won’t say I didn’t think about this —   http://www.wikihow.com/Use-Acorns-for-Food

 Yes, I wandered off-topic, but what do you think – do you have any dreamy acorn recipes?

More on the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Dreamy

Three Signs, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Signs

Taking the ‘signs’ challenge literally, here’s one of my favorites. It’s from a drive in the country on my visit to the mid-west last summer.

"No Trespassing, We're Tired of Hiding the Bodies"Sign, south of Albany MO

A country construction site: be careful, they’re ruthless out there.

Here’s another sign. This one’s from our trip last week. It might be helpful for those of us who are de-cluttering if every city had this option.

Amsterdam mail slot,  NEE for NO junk mail.

Amsterdam mail slot: “No” to junk mail.

We’re told these stickers, just above the mail slots in the doors in Amsterdam, mean ‘NO’ to junk mail. (In the unlikely event that you want junk mail, the sign would day “JA”) Here, CatalogChoice.com has worked well for me on cutting down the number of catalogs I receive, but there are still some junk mail lists I can’t seem to get away from. Although I don’t see how this solution would get rid of junk mail at the source, it would cut way down on individual annoyance. Oh and by the way… I did look, and saw very few “JA” signs.

But now that I’m home, I’m looking for a sign of what to work on next. First, I’ll recycle my Amsterdam tour books (well cared for, maps intact) by listing them for resale on Amazon – hey, it worked well for our Copenhagen and Vancouver books last year.

 Now back to the mid-west…

Missouri Rainbow

It’s too far away for the pot ‘o gold to be in my basement, but maybe it’s in my brother’s.

 Could this rainbow be one last sign? (definitely more hopeful)

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Signs

Coming Home, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Night time

Sam and I got home last night from a trip to Amsterdam.  When I went out for a walk in my home neighborhood today, I caught myself thinking “but where are the canals?” and “Why don’t I hear the tram?” and most of all “Where shall I stop for coffee?”

Amsterdam canal - coming back from dinner at De Bolhoed on Prinsengracht

Amsterdam canal – coming back from dinner at De Bolhoed on Prinsengracht

Amsterdam canal

Oh how I love being a tourist.

I’m hoping that a vacation cleared my palate and gave me inspiration to get more done now that I’m home. But for today, I’m still getting over being spoiled by going out to breakfast every morning, having a cappucchino every afternoon, seeing the Ruisdael sky above, and in general spending every day learning something. It takes a little time to get out of that wonderful vacation groove.

I’m always surprised by how different home looks after time away. As for downsizing, I made an effort to get a load of accumulated donations delivered the day before leaving, so it doesn’t actually look too bad around here. But this is a short post, since our flight arrived home late in the nighttime and today is the first day back.

Where is your favorite place to vacation?

Related posts:

More on the weekly photo challenge: Nighttime

Squirrels Win, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Endurance

When it comes to endurance and the persistence of species, I’m pretty sure it’s the rodents who’ll triumph in the end.

One day a few autumns ago I was sitting at my desk writing when I heard a noise at the window.  You can tell I had to be quick with the camera — that inquiring nose is not quite in focus.

Squirrel looks in the upstairs window.

It wasn’t until later that I noticed all the upstairs window frames had bite marks on them.

I thought this was pretty cute until I investigated and saw the places where the window sills and the siding over the garage had been chewed up. See the holly next to the house? It’s history now, along with some overhanging tree branches. I expect the squirrels can get up the side of the house without any help, but why make the trip so easy?

The contractor who came to fix and paint insisted on installing a fake owl on the roof. “It’ll scare the squirrels away,” he said.

Fake roof-owl for scaring squirrels.

Would this look scare you away? (assuming you wanted to eat the house)

“Hah!” I said, “But OK, as long as you don’t put it in front.” The owl endures too, ‘watching’ from the roof of the back porch. And, to be fair, the squirrels haven’t eaten much siding lately, but then, there’s a vocal family of real owls just across the street, so maybe they’re helping too.

As for me, I’m still trying to persist in downsizing, but some days I’m short on endurance.

Wish me luck?


Meanwhile, here’s an owl serenade from my front yard:

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Endurance

A 1918 Time Capsule, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Humanity

Not long ago I came upon a mystery packet of photos and documents, including this 1918 photo. It’s 8 inches high, probably 4 foot long (ish), packed in a roll, and fragile. I was afraid to unroll the whole thing lest I damage it. It was, of course, in my basement. Here’s a detail:

Company 'B' S.A.T.C. Lawrence KS, 1918. The armistice came in November. I hope these soldiers didn't have to go.

Company ‘B’ S.A.T.C. Lawrence KS, 1918. The armistice came in November that year. I hope these soldiers didn’t have to go.

With this photo were two High School yearbooks from Kansas City MO, 1916 and 1920. At first I couldn’t imagine how these things came to be in a box with my stuff, then I found names on some accompanying documents and realized they were papers that belonged to the people who lived in my Kansas City house before I did. I bought the house from their estate.

We came to Georgia in a corporate move. I can only think that when the company sent movers to pack up the house, they were able to find some cubbyhole I never happened to run across when I lived there.

I’m sorry the photo has been rolled up and stored for decades, first in one house, then another, in what to photographs is likely a hostile environment. Still it’s an interesting picture, with the geometry of its composition — all those crossed legs on the front row — and its poignant glimpse into preparation for a long-ago war that caused such devastation. Here’s a look at a larger portion of the photo:

SATC Lawrence KS 1918

S.A.T.C. Lawrence KS 1918

 Something else occurred in the fall of 1918 that may have threatened some of these soldiers. The “Spanish Flu” epidemic of 1918 started that October, a deadly pandemic that killed more people than the war did. According to the article I’ve linked to below, the S.A.T.C barracks were used as makeshift hospitals.

This is as far as I unrolled the picture:

S.A.T.C. Lawrence KS 1918

S.A.T.C. was a precursor of R.O.T.C. (Reserve Officers Training Corps)

My house’s former owners were Leonard and Elsie Rehard. I see on their marriage certificate that she was Elsie V. Walker. I don’t think they had children, but I don’t know for certain. There is an Elsie Walker as a Senior in the 1920 yearbook that was stored along with this photo. I didn’t see Mr Rehard in either book, but there were a couple of Walker boys. Perhaps Elsie had a brother among the soldiers.

I emailed the Kansas Historical Society in Topeka about the photo (they took Bob’s yearbooks), and I’m happy to say they wanted it. I’ve already mailed it out and it should arrive soon.  I’ll save the yearbooks for another post, but here’s a teaser…

The Overall Club - Northeast High School 1920

The Overall Club, Northeast High School, Kansas City MO, 1920

So glad the war is over — What do you think? Handsome, yes?

Related articles:

S.A.T.C. The Student Army Training Core at Lawrence Kansas

1918 flu: The grim reaper closes (Kansas University) campus.

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Humanity

Cleaning the Basement, Irony, Bad Puns, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Adventure

My adventures of late have been brave expeditions to the depths — of the basement.  It’s hard to imagine why I had these irons. Was I concerned about keeping my clothes pressed after the revolution, or maybe after the ‘pulse’?

This is a gas iron. Can you imagine?

A gas powered iron.

What can I say? I used to like to buy weird, um, stuff in flea markets.

I found some pictures of this ‘Diamond’ gas iron that indicate it was sold in the 1930’s. That surprised me. I would have guessed it was older.

Speaking of older –

'Asbestos' sad irons

I don’t know where these came from. Sometimes I think things get into my basement through a warp in the space-time continuum.

Would you recognize them as irons? I checked eBay and I see these are called ‘sad irons’ —   :-(    I’m all for good grooming but I’m glad I don’t need to use these. (and by the way, the extras are so you can always have one that’s hot) I have so much respect for women of previous generations.

Flash of guilt: I just remembered, my mother used to iron my clothes for me when I was in school, back in the pre-permanent-press days. Second flash of guilt: I wonder if the treatment used on fabrics now is harmful to the environment? Maybe that’s one more good reason to just wear T-shirts and jeans.

I do have a useable iron. When I cleaned out the cabinet in the laundry room, I even found a spare, so I must have needed them once. These days that’s pretty silly, and so 20th century. I use an iron once a year at most, usually if I’ve unpacked and cleaned up vintage linens, or got out my grandmother’s napkins and table cloth for Dinner Club.

My not-quite modern steam iron

My not-so-new steam iron looks a little like a happy bug in this photo.

I didn’t make it to Dragon Con on Labor Day weekend this year. That may be only the second time this millennium that I’ve missed it. Still I have lots of photos from previous cons, so in honor of this bad pun iron-adventure post, here’s one more iron — Iron Man:

 What do you think of his costume – are you impressed? And what shall I do with my antique irons?

A little more about irons:



And of course, more on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Adventure