Tools, Extending our Reach, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Afloat

We saw this explosion of tools-held-afloat at the newly reopened Cooper Hewitt Design Museum in Manhattan last month. That’s ‘Tools: Extending our Reach,’ on until May 25 2015.

 Controller of the Universe (2007), by artist Damián Ortega in Tools: Extending Our Reach at the Cooper Hewitt

Tools Afloat at the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum – “Controller of the Universe” (2007), by artist Damián Ortega

Here’s a closer look — Controller of the Universe (2007), by artist Damián Ortega - detail)This Robo-Bee is from the same exhibition. “The world’s first insect-scale flying robot has a wingspan of 3 cm (1 1/8 in) and is the approximate weight of a honeybee,” it’s designed to replicate the swarming behavior of bees and aid in the study of colony collapse disorder.

Tools, Extending our Reach (detail)

Wouldn’t you love to see one afloat?

Some food for thought, taken from the walls of the Tools exhibition —

Camera is a tool quote: A camera is a tool for learning to see without a camera. Cooper Hewitt.

Dorothea Lange

Elsie Mather (Yup'ik Quote)

Elsie Mather

Samuel F.B. Morse quote

Samuel F.B. Morse, of course. (Did you know he was also an artist?)

It’s hard to believe that at 10 years old I was relatively proficient in Morse Code. Back then I was helping my father study for his Amateur Radio license but now all I remember is … – – – …      I had to look this up to translate.

Do you know what Samuel F.B. had to say?

Meanwhile, on the homefront, I delivered a car-load of donations this morning and have another to deliver tomorrow. Now it’s back to the file cabinet to see what else I can get ready for the shredding event coming up the first week of May. Wish me luck —


For more on the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum and on Tools: Extending Our Reach,

and on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Afloat


Time, my Neck, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Ephemeral

I recently read the late Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About my Neck. I’m sorting books again today, and the clocks on the cover of this sci-fi novel made me think of the passage of time, which leads to the loss of physical energy and firm youthful skin — and now, I’m feeling bad about my neck.

Earth is Room Enough by Isacc Asimov

Time: it’s as fleeting and elusive as thin air.

Some women-of-a-certain age have plastic surgery. Some wear flowing scarves around their necks. But it occurs to me that there’s another solution — rooted in the past …

Portrait of a Woman 1633, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Portrait of a Woman 1633, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Photo courtesy of Web Gallery of Art)

Here’s my solution to the neck-thing — bring back the ruff! Too much trouble to launder, set, and starch, you say? No servants to help out? No problem — in the 21st century we have something better — 3D Printers.

Window display: 3d Printing display with Ruff potential

I saw this window display in Amsterdam (of course), and they aren’t ruffs, just examples of creativity in printing… still, see the potential?

At the Amsterdam Museum, there’s a corner where you can “take a photo of yourself as a member of the civic guard”…

Amsterdam Museum

Check it out: no turkey-neck! (but why is my ruff drooping on one side?)

Amsterdam Museum: Sam as Civic Guard

Sam’s turn.

What do you think of my idea? April Fool? (well maybe, but only a little bit)

Now it’s back to downsizing, and time to start sorting out the next shelf of books, but first, here’s the attribution for the book cover detail above.

Earth is Room Enough by Isaac Asimov, cover by Tony Palladino

Earth is Room Enough by Isaac Asimov (1920-1992), cover design by Tony Palladino (1930-2014), award winning designer and illustrator known for creating the book jacket and movie title typography for Psycho.

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Ephemeral

Pop-Art, the Atlanta Botanical Garden, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Fresh

What’s fresh at the Botanical Garden?  *Pop-Art orchids*  Pop-Art may not sound fresh after all these years, but it’ll always be impudent. Now, here’s an Orchid Daze tribute that looks at it in a new way…

Roy Lichtenstein in the Orchid House - Atlanta Botanical Garden

Homage to Roy Lichtenstein in the Orchid House – Atlanta Botanical Garden

Keith Haring and orchids at the Atlanta Botanical Garden

Keith Haring and orchids…

Keith Haring and orchids at the Atlanta Botanical Garden

And of course, where would we be without Andy Warhol soup-can orchids…

Saturday was also the day of the Atlanta Bonsai Society’s Spring Show at the Garden. And yes, those tiny twisty trees are amazing, but what I loved most was the moss.  I entertained myself with the idea of growing a poison-ivy Bonsai (mostly kidding), but what I really want is a Bonsai-type container of just moss. This little tree trunk had my favorite groundcover:

Bonsai pot moss

Fresh moss: isn’t it blissful?

 What does this post have to do with downsizing? More than you think — it’s refreshing to get out and see beautiful green things, and it was a much needed break from my current project of clearing out papers and filing cabinets. Now I’m back on track to fill up another box (or more!) of paper for the shredding event coming up this weekend.

What do you think? Fresh enough for you?

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Fresh

More on the Atlanta Botanical Garden

The Weekly Photo Challenge: Wall

This is a lazy post. None of my recent clearing out is photogenic, so today I’ll just share some of my photos that fit the theme. An ancient wall comes first…

Lion from the Processional Way, Ishtar Gate, Pergamon, now in Oriental inst Chicago

This lion is from the Processional Way, Ishtar Gate, Pergamon. It’s now in Oriental Institute in Chicago.

Still wall art, but more modern…

Chagall mosaic, detail, Chicago

Detail from a Chagall mosaic, Chicago.   OK, no jokes about the lion lying down with the chicken (if the lamb needs to be replaced).

This is a wall in the restaurant Gobo, in Manhattan…

Gobo - wood wall

At the time, we wanted to remember this arresting wall-o-wood, but now the people at the tables seem more mysterious and interesting.

And here’s the wall around the stage at Matilda, when we went last year on Broadway…

Matilda Stage

We’re waiting for the performance to begin…

And here’s the wall of tributes to Steve Jobs after his death in 2011, just outside the 5th Avenue Apple Store.

Tribute to Steve Jobs: Wall at the 5th Ave Apple Store, May 2011

I don’t know about hungry, but I’m certainly staying foolish — how about you?


More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Wall

Hoarding vs Collecting, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Orange

What looks orange, but is really “radioactive red”? It’s Fiestaware of course…

Radioactive Red Fiestaware

“Radioactive Red” Fiestaware – am I hoarding or collecting?

I imprinted on my mother’s Fiestaware, so when it came time to have dishes of my own, Fiesta is what I wanted. That was before the new issue Fiesta that’s now in stores. My dishes came from beloved friends and relatives who passed theirs on to me, and of course from thrift shops. When Fiesta got trendy, and thrift store prices went up, I quit buying. I still remember passing up a stack of my then-favorite cobalt blue dinner plates at a St Vincent DePaul’s shop because they were charging (gasp) $1.00 per plate.

The streamlined look, the vivid colors, and the connection to the past are what attract me, but do I use my Fiestaware often enough to justify keeping it?

Spending time in waiting rooms last week, I read this in the recent issue of Oprah Magazine:

“The truth is: real collectors focus on, say, vintage lustreware, know the value of the items they have, and are always on the hunt for new pieces. What they don’t do is stash them in a trash bag under the bed. ‘A true collection,’ says Gail Steketee, PhD, dean of Boston University School of Social Work and an expert on hoarding, ‘is one that is kept in some sort of logical order and that you can show off.’ If you love your things, don’t you want to see them?”

And a little art-reading, from Phillipe De Montebello and Martin Gayford’s Rendez-vous with Art:

“Not long ago Damien Hirst said ‘Collecting is like stuff washed up on a beach somewhere, and that somewhere is you. Then, when you die, it all gets washed away again.’ A collection is, then, an expression of a personal vision: in a way, a work of art in itself. But collecting is also — both for individuals and institutions — a compulsion.”

Now, evaluating what’s in my cupboards, I’m thinking about what to keep and what to let go.  If it’s my “collection” I need to get it out, to see and appreciate. Else, I’m hoarding, and I should let the stuff go to someone who’ll use or display it.

Dining Room with Fiestaware

Dining Room with Fiestaware (yes, it’s been a while)

But back to that orange, or rather “radioactive red” — it’s true. A small amount of uranium oxide was used in the glaze. That color was dropped from production during World War II, when “Fiesta red went to war.” (The Collector’s Encyclopedia of Fiesta, Sharon and Bob Huxford)

What are you collecting or hoarding? (and is it radioactive?)

Saving Books, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds

It’s a long train ride up to the ‘top’ of Manhattan but we finally made it to the Cloisters last November. Here’s a subject dear to my heart. No — not burning books, my subject is saving them!

Cloisters: Allegorical Scene with Book Burning, Netherlandish, ca 1520-1530

Stained glass at the Cloisters: Allegorical Scene with Book Burning, Netherlandish — ‘Farenheit 451′ ca 1520-1530

I prefer to think this character is lifting that book away from the fire. Saving books is what I like to think I’m doing when I list our used books for sale online, or take time to find the right homes to donate them to. I can’t stand to think of books getting thrown away or recycled.  Letting them go to the landfill would be a modern version of book-burning. (and btw, can anyone figure out the words in the banderole above the fire? I should have done that when I was there in person)

Here are a few recent triumphs from book-selling:

  • Elements of Mathematics, General Topology, Part 1.  Part 2 sold a couple of weeks later, to a different buyer. Looking back, I see I listed these books for sale in April and September 2013. Selling used books is not for the impatient.
  • Recreational Mathematics magazine, December 1961 (“devoted to the lighter side of mathematics”). The August 1961 issue sold a couple of years ago.  Here’s a quote.

There was a magician named Pratt,

Who hid ninety birds in his hat.

Exactly two-thirds

Of a third of those birds

Were robins –  how many was that?

  • Rick Steves’ Pocket Amsterdam and National Geographic Walking Amsterdam walked Amsterdam with us on our trip last fall, then sold on Amazon when we got home.

But back to the rule of thirds: in composition, it calls for placing the subject off-center, aligned, ideally, along vertical or horizontal lines of a grid that divides the image into nine equal parts.  “Power points” are at the intersections of these lines. If I’d paid better attention to the rule of thirds, the faces in my photos would be at power points.  As it was, I just wanted to frame the glass image with a view of the cloistered garden outside.

Here’s one more image… a medieval Wild Man, covered in hair (first cousin to the Green Man?). The Wild Man is such a favorite subject of mine that I won’t say any more about him here; I’ll save him for another post.

Wild Man supporting a Heraldic Shield,  the Cloisters, Netherlandish, 1510-1530

Wild Man supporting a Heraldic Shield, the Met Museum Cloisters, Netherlandish, 1510-1530

How about it – are you a fan of the Wild Man yet?

More about the Cloisters of the Metropolitan Museum

More about the Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds

Remodeling an Old Ceiling Fan, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Symmetry

“Either this ceiling fan goes or I do.” That’s what I said when I fixed up my spare bedroom. Somehow the fan looked a lot worse as soon as everything else looked better.

Thanks to comments from JanL and Mickey Goodman, I went to work. Here’s a symmetrical photo of my “new” fan.

Remodeled Ceiling Fan For context, here’s a link to the previous post.  And here’s the ceiling fan “before” —

Ceiling fan - before

The 1970’s called – they want it back.

With the blades flipped over, plus a new globe and pulls, it isn’t perfect but it’s certainly less obtrusive. A do-over saved the price of a new fan and kept this one out of the landfill.

Ceiling Fan Re-do

“New” ceiling fan – it’s pale gray, not white, but there’s gray elsewhere in the room so it’ll do.

The flip sides of the fan blades had small rectangular stickers on them. They came off when I washed the blades, exposing a little spot of white priming on each one. They’re visible through the fretwork of the supports if you happen to really look. The finicky part of me will probably get some touch-up paint one of these days, but for now, enough is enough, and I’m moving on.

One fan down and two to go…

Ceiling fan with wood blades

Not old enough to be antique, just old enough to be dated. Can this ceiling fan be saved?

Yes, the quilt you can see in the background is old too, but that really is an antique… which brings us to the mysterious line between “dated” and “antique” and makes me wonder if all ceiling fans will be charming if I just wait long enough.

I’ve already replaced this fan’s old wheat-patterned globe with a plain white one, but the shiny brass may be too much for new blades and pulls to counteract. Still, it seems wasteful to replace it when it works well, so I want to come up with something. Too bad these blades are the same on the reverse, so flipping them isn’t an option.

This strategy worked well for me last time, so I’ll use it again  —

“Do you have any suggestions?”

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Symmetry