Keeping Keys, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Collage

This challenge calls for a collection “found in the wild or assembled ourselves.” You could almost say I found this group of keys in the wild, since I found them when clearing out my house and it got a little wild around here, disorganization-wise. Every time I unpacked something and found a key, I added it to the box.

Most of these keys were Bob’s but a few were his father’s. I see Bob’s Celica key, and I’ll bet those Volkswagon keys were for all the beloved Karman Ghias that came before. I like the tiny key in the yellow box. It would be perfect for a charm bracelet.

Bob's keys

Bob’s keys — a multi-year collection. 

I have my own father’s key ring too. He used to hang it on a pocket of his over-alls. Growing up, I saw it on the corner of my parents’ dresser every night.

My father's Key ring

My father’s key ring

They’re old keys now, and some quite beautiful. There’s something so personal about keys, and just a sight of the key ring of a beloved parent or partner somehow slices away the years and brings the person closer.

I keep my own keys too — do you keep yours?

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Collage

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Travel Like a Pig Enthusiast – Catching Up with a Past Weekly Photo Challenge: Wanderlust

My best travel tip? Always keep an open mind in trip-planning. Sometimes our favorite adventures are things we discover along the way.

On a Southwest Airlines flight to New York City in March, Sam opened the inflight magazine straight to the puzzle page and found this note from a previous passenger. I was charmed and took a photo, but didn’t know until later that there was serendipitous magic afoot, working to set a theme for our trip.

'Pig Enthusiast' note: Sudoku Page/ Southwest Airlines

Archie, pig enthusiast, wishes us a wonderful life. Thank you, Archie.

I didn’t think about this note again until the next day, when we got to the Guggenheim. Here’s what reminded me –

Paul Gauguin, Haere Mai - Detail (Guggenheim Museum, NYC)

Paul Gauguin, Haere Mai – 1891 – Detail (Guggenheim Museum, NYC)

What? Gaughin? Pigs? I must have seen this painting many times, but it was never so memorable before. Backing up for the long view –

Paul Gauguin, Haere Mai  (Guggenheim Museum, NYC)

Paul Gauguin, Haere Mai (Guggenheim Museum, NYC)

At the Metropolitan Museum show Age of Empires, Chinese Art from the Qin and Han Dynasties (221 B.C – A.D. 220) we found these ancient porkers–

Two Pigs - Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C – A.D. 9)

Two Pigs, Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C – A.D. 9). Stone pigs, symbolizing wealth, were placed in tombs in the hands of the dead.

The next pigs-in-show were photo bombed by a chicken –

Pair of Pigs - Western Han Dynasty

Pair of Pigs, Western Han Dynasty (206-B.C. – A.D. 9). Earthenware with pigment. Yangling Mausoleum.

While Sam worked the puzzle page during our flight, I was reading a New York Times review of an exhibition at the Onassis Cultural Center and Museum: A World of Emotions: Ancient Greece, 700 BC – 200 AD. We’d never been to Onassis Center, and made a note to go. Now it’s definitely on our list for future trips.

Not long after we walked in, we discovered that even classical antiquity could be home to serious pig-enthusiasm.

Funerary Stele for a Lovable Pig, Victim of a Traffic Accident, 2nd-3rd century AD, Marble, Edessa, site of Longos, Ephorate of Antiquities of Pella, AKA 1674. Photography Orestis Kourakis.

Funerary Stele for a Lovable Pig, Victim of a Traffic Accident, 2nd-3rd century AD, Marble, Edessa, site of Longos, Ephorate of Antiquities of Pella, AKA 1674. Photography Orestis Kourakis.

“Here lies the pig, beloved by all, a young quadruped.  I left the land of Dalmatia, when I was given as a gift. I reached Dyrrachion and yearned for Apollonian. I crossed every land with my own feet, alone undefeated. But now I have left the light because of the violence of wheels. I wished to see Emathie and the wagon of the phallus, but now here I rest, although I was too young to pay my tribute to death.”   Pella, Ephorate of Antiquities.

In the words of another (famous) pig enthusiast, this must have been “some pig”.

I was prepared for gods and mortals, love, anger, and courage, envy, and the range of human emotions we know throughout history and mythology. What I didn’t foresee were the many touching tributes to animals. Dogs, geese (“Aphrodite’s sacred bird and a symbol of weddings”), and of course, the lovable pig. It reminded me of how far we’re removed from nature in our modern lives.

Sam wondered if the pig had a name, and if so, whether it was lost to the centuries or part of the original inscription but not translated. For synchronicity’s sake, we’d like to think its name was ‘Archie’.

 

More on the past weekly photo challenge: Wanderlust

More on the Onassis Cultural Center and the World of Emotions Exhibition

Remodeling, Painting Paneling, and the Weekly photo Challenge: Delta

One of the biggest changes I made to this house started back in February, documented in this earlier post on remodeling (and chaos).  Here’s a “before” shot of the room behind the mysterious plastic drape in that post —

Dark Judges paneling - I called it the 'Morris Room'

Dark Judges paneling – I called it the ‘Morris Room’ and yes, I knew it was too cluttered, but never got around to styling the shelves before it was time to pack up.

Of course it’s nothing like a real (William) Morris Room, say the cafe at the V&A in London, but I can dream, can’t I?

The Real Morris Room Morris room, 1866 – 8. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London (from the V&A Museum website)

The Real Thing — Morris room, 1866 – 8. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London (photo from the V&A Museum website)

When we first moved in, Bob liked the dark paneling, and I didn’t mind it. Though I eventually came around to the idea of painting it to lighten the room, without help, I doubt I would have trusted anyone to do a good job on the painting. Now I’m indebted to my organizer/designer/Renaissance woman helper, Leigh, able to leap small buildings and boss around unruly contractors. Here’s the room on the way to getting emptied out.

Starting to pack up my "Morris Room"...

Starting to pack up my “Morris Room”…

The other side, with cut-out for the bar area

The other side, with the old cut-out for the bar area

Transition continues with painting, and the bar area gets enclosed —

Changes to the "Morris Room"

Changes to the “Morris Room” (I’m not a fan of the enclosure, but it’s done now).

Painting the "Morris Room"

Painting the “Morris Room” – almost ready for the floor.

Starting over in the Morris Room

Starting over …

Painted paneling - new Morris Room

Painted paneling, and restyling by Leigh – I suppose we shouldn’t keep calling it the “Morris Room”

Lighter, brighter, and with new cabinet hardware and an updated ceiling fixture…I’m hoping it’s enough to freshen up my vintage furniture.

There is one funny thing about all these changes. As each project gets completed, I feel a little thrill of recognition — as if somehow I knew all along this is what I would end up doing, and how it would turn out, even if I couldn’t have articulated it before. I’m hoping that means I’m on the right path.

How’d we do? Let me know what you think — about the room, that is, not about how I’m a day late on the Delta photo challenge.

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Delta

More on William Morris

A Perfect Vacuum, and the Weekly Photo Challenge – Transient

It’s hard to be a nomad when you have to clean house every day. Why so clean? Here’s why —Home for SaleI’ve been downsizing for a long time now, but the last several weeks have put frantic full-time-focus on getting ready to sell. Finally getting a chance to get back to the blogging world is a good sign. I’m hoping my state of transience comes soon.

Staging is the rage for real estate marketing. Now, every morning I get up and set about obliterating all traces of my habitation. I polish the tub, shower, and sinks, sweep the hardwood floors, tidy up my workstation and put away all papers I had out the night before. Did I drink some coffee? Wash that cup! (or hide it in the dishwasher) Then, the very last thing — I vacuum the upstairs carpet. It’s new carpet, just installed June 5.

Here’s the thing — it tracks. I was so focused on getting a good neutral color that I didn’t even think about tracking. Now I see everywhere I’ve been. At first I cursed myself for not spending a bit more time to come up with a firmer weave carpet that wouldn’t show tracks. Then I realized, this could be an advantage.  When someone looks at the house, I can see where they’ve been!  Were they interested enough to look in the closets? Did they check the view out the window? Now I’m vacuum-obsessed.

Footprints in the carpeting

Bigfoot was here…(that’s me)

My staging-advisor asked what I was reading. “Get out an interesting book or two, put them on your nightstand,” she said, “make it look more home-like.” Mind you, this is after we’d de-cluttered like mad and (under duress) I’d sold, donated, or stored away most of the books. But, I’d hidden a secret stash in my car, so I took a quick look and came up with this —

Bedside Table: Vignette with Stanislaw Lem

Can you see the title on the bottom book?

Here it is in close-up —

How’s this for inspiration as I do my morning vacuum and step-erasure?

Wish me luck?

P.S. The top book is Chasing the Nightbird, by friend Krista Russell

 

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Transient

 

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Boy Scouts, Gargoyles, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Surprise

I wasn’t prepared to find a surprise tucked behind the last row of Bob’s boxes on the shelves in the basement …

Detail: Vintage Boy Scout backpack

Vintage Boy Scout backpack, lesson: “Be Prepared” for anything (especially surprises)

It’s big… did kids really carry these? There’s no knowing now if it was his own backpack or if he just collected it at some point.

Vintage Boy Scout backpack

Vintage Boy Scout backpack – 1950-something?

I’d never thought to wonder whether he’d been a Boy Scout. I don’t remember him talking about it. But, right after the backpack surfaced, I found this.

Astronomy Merit Badge

Get your Astronomy merit badge here…

And the morning after that I found a photo of Grade-School Bob in his scout uniform. Synchronicity strikes. But alas, I’ve already misplaced the scout photo. Since I am temporarily out of proof of that instance of synchronicity, I’ll submit the following instead.  Here’s a photo of Bob’s father that I found the same day. I first met him just before we three took this trip to Paris in the 1980s.

Ted (Bob’s father) with Notre Dame gargoyles — Paris, mid-1980s

Later on my same day of unpacking, this mouse pad showed up (remember mouse pads?).

Mouse Pad - Notre Dame Gargoyle

Do you recognize this face?

Little surprises like this keep me going. And, now there are only a few basement boxes left, then I’m moving on to closets and file cabinets.

Wish me luck on finally finishing?

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Surprise

Art Museum Eyes, A Jackson Pollock in the Wild? — and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Dense

A walk in Central Park, and one look out across the little lake and into the trees. The branches were dense, with a tracery of white among the dark.  Something started to look familiar.  Here’s a progression…

Central Park, first sight: Trees across the water

Central Park, first glance: Trees across the water

How do you know you may have been spending too much time in art museums? —  Everything looks like a painting. Zooming in…

Central Park: Trees across the water

Central Park: Trees across the water.

And a little closer, it’s getting more abstract…

Life imitating art?

Life Imitating Art?

One more time, adjusting the color balance a bit.

I’m sure it’s just a case of “art museum eyes” on my part, but here’s the painting I thought those trees were channeling. The dense pattern of branches, dark and light, makes a nice allusion to the meandering surface lines in the painting. Or, is it just my art museum eyes tricking me again?

Pollack at MoMA - One Numbber 31

Pollock at MoMA – One Number 31  (photo from MoMA)

How about it, have you seen life imitating art lately?

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Dense

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Patina, Qin & Han Dynasty Bronzes at the Met Museum, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: It IS easy Being Green

Home from traveling, I’m catching up on last week’s photo challenge. For green, I’ll take verdigris. If you’re bronze, it’s plenty easy being green. All it takes is time for the “bright bluish-green encrustation or patina” to form by atmospheric oxidation.

This elegant green goose is from the Met Museum show Age of Empires: Chinese Art of the Qin and Han Dynasties. Don’t you love the way that curly little foot is tucked underneath?

Age of Empire, Qin and Han Dynasties, Bronze Goose

Life-size bronze goose from the Mausoleum of the First Emperor, Qin Dynasty (221-206 BCE)

The note on this bronze warrior indicated that the attention to anatomy is characteristic of the work that Alexander the Great introduced to Central Asia, perhaps to the Sythians, in the 4th C. BCE.

Age of Empire, Qin and Han Dynasties, Kneeling Warrior - China or Central Asia, 5th-3rd century BCE.

Kneeling Warrior – China or Central Asia, 5th-3rd century BCE.

Next is a water clock — the note on this piece indicated that it once had lines marking intervals of time, and a gauge that floated on the water.  “As the water drained at a constant rate through a tube at the bottom, the gauge sank steadily, allowing the time to be read at each mark.”

And get this: “Water clocks were kept at every office throughout the empire. Beginning in Qin times, officials were required to note the date and time of all incoming and outgoing correspondence, and to record this information on the documents themselves.”

Age of Empire, Met Museum. Water Clock - Western Han Dynasty, Bronze (206 BC - 9 AD)

Bronze Water Clock – Western Han Dynasty (206 BC – 9 AD)

Thinking of the time it takes bronze to patina, I realized it’s probably not much more than the time it’s taking me to get my house cleared out. Now that I’m home again I’m back on the job, even if am still in that just-back-from-a-trip mode of catching myself thinking about where to stop for coffee.

One more photo — is it sacrilegious to say this beautiful ancient bronze horse reminded me just a little of Donkey from Shrek?

Met Museum - Age of Empires - Chinese Art of the Qin and Han Dynasties - Horse and Groom - Eastern Han Dynasty (AD 25 - 220)

Horse and Groom – Eastern Han Dynasty (AD 25 – 220)

More on the Met Museum exhibition Age of Empires

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: It IS Easy Being Green