Friday, December 4, 2020

December Sky Moods #SkywatchFriday

How can a sky change so much over 24 hours?

Observe Wednesday and Thursday somewhere in New York State.

Wednesday, we started with snow. 

We end in total gloom.  That's how our skies look much of the time at this time of year.

Thursday doesn't start much better.  I decided this one looked pretty nice in black and white.

But then, a minor miracle.

The skies start to clear.

Could it be?

Yes, we have blue skies!  And this big ball of bright light in the left center of the photo!

Sadly, it didn't last long.  Maybe better luck next time.

My dear readers, please stay safe.  Please don't engage in anything risky.  We will all get through this together.  

Joining up today with Yogi at #SkywatchFriday .

Thursday, December 3, 2020

The Painting of Memory

As we approach what would have been my mother in law's 92nd birthday, I wanted to tell a little story.

I'm not big into art history, but it's interesting that I remember two people who were important to me through artwork I saw in their houses.   One of them was my mother inlaw.

The other day, one of my spouse's cousins texted me a photo with a short story of how she had taken it.  I recognized the photo right away.  It was a framed painting (a print, probably - yes, I'm that non-knowledgeable) that hung in my mother in law's house. 

The painting the cousin sent me a picture of was of a woman and a girl, arms wrapped around each other.  It was obvious they were mother and daughter and loved each other very much.

I was first in my future mother in law's home back in 1971 and I remember the painting being there.  My mother inlaw had a very different taste in art than I do and I never asked her to identify it for me.

But the cousin, who lives in the Western United States, had.  She took a picture of my mother in law's print on one of her visits out East to visit her father, who lives in New England.  She asked about it, but all she could remember was a name "LeBron" (she thought).  She tried researching it with no luck.

As we texted back and forth, she suddenly found the painting online. It was a Mme. Elisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun self portrait with her daughter Julie, painted in 1789. To be more accurate, Madame Vigée-Le Brun and her daughter, Jeanne-Lucie-Louise, known as Julie , who lived from 1780 to 1819.  

Sad - like so many of that time, the daughter died young.

The amazing thing?  Mme. Vigée-Le Brun was a woman.  Talented female painters didn't get to be famous back then.  And, that painting hangs in the Louvre, along with seven other paintings.

The painting was a "revolutionary confiscation" from a manwhich may have been part of this.

Although I believe the painting is in the common domain in the United States, I don't want to get into trouble by publishing a copy of it, but you can find it here, along with an art history analysis.

And here is a video I found if you are interested, which I have not looked at.

Mme. Le Brun also has at least one painting hanging in New York City's Metropolitan museum of art.

History hanging on a Eastern United States wall, and I never knew it.

I told my spouse's cousin that her picture made my night, and it did.  I never even knew what I was looking at.

Is there any fine art that brings back memories for you?

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Frosty #WordlessWednesday

Sign of the late fall season.

Frost on a sage plant.   

Frosty leaves.

Frost on mint.  

No Frosty the Snowman - not yet.

Just give it time.

Joining Sandee for her #WordlessWednesday

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Holiday Frogging

Today is the first day of December.  The sunsets are almost at their earliest, the cloud cover where I live is almost continuous, and the crocheting urge is upon me.

It's also time to be colorful, to decorate in bright reds, white whites, and holiday greens.

I decided to continue with a project I abandoned late last year - a blanket in Christmas colors (white, pink, red ombre) that wasn't coming out the way I wanted.  I did some calculations in my mind and decided I could not fix it.


It was time to frog it.  But I couldn't do it last year.  I had a lot of time invested.  Time would have to pass.  And then the pandemic hit.  Months passed before I got the urge to crochet again.

A couple of weeks ago, it was time.

In the world of knitting and crocheting (and cross-stitch, too, as I recall from years ago) "frogging" is tearing out part or all of a project - so named because we "rip it. rip it".

So a-frogging I went, to the horror of my spouse.  He's seen me rip out row, but never an entire project.

"Sometimes, you just have to start over", I explained.

I downloaded a free pattern from a website that is a social network for crocheters, knitters, and fiber artists.  I rarely visit it although I've had an account for several years. 

I wanted something easy. Instead of the blanket in Christmas colors I had originally planned, I decided to downsize the project to a throw.

Just a section of the throw

In that way, maybe, just maybe, it will be ready by early next year.

It won't be ready for Christmas, but here it is so far.  It's easy, it looks good with the super bulky soft yarn I had bought from a crafts chain store which is now out of business, and the pattern is working for me.  Chewing gum for the mind.  Just what I need in the evenings.

It's taken me years to get to this point of acceptance.

It's part of a lesson I learned years ago from crocheting.  Sometimes, it is just better to rip out your work and start over.  It's a lesson that sometimes applies to life, too.  The old doesn't work.  It's time for something new.  And, it's not a good idea to have other unfinished projects lying around.  Life is too short.

I have a whole winter ahead of me. 

Monday, November 30, 2020

Unusual Songs #MusicMovesMe

Hello, fellow music lovers, and welcome to another episode of Music Moves Me!

Who are the #MusicMovesMe bloggers? We are bloggers who blog about music each Monday and if you have music to share with us, you are most welcome to join!  First, there is XmasDolly,   Her co-conductors are:  Cathy from Curious as a Cathy, Stacy of Stacy Uncorked   and, finally, me.  

We'd love you to join us every Monday and share your music with us.  But please note this is is a music blog only - please post at least one You Tube or Vimeo video so we can dance with you. 

Each month we have a guest conductor. This great month of November our guest conductor is Songbird from Songbird's Crazy World.  

Songbird's theme for today is: "You Pick".  It's my last non-holiday music post for 2020, and I want to make it an interesting one.  We live in interesting times, after all. So, I want to feature some songs whose music, lyrics or videos are just a little unusual.  

This first one may be unusual because of who was in this band.  Billy Joel did not start out as a piano man, it turns out.  He was in a couple of bands prior to starting his successful solo career, and even released a heavy metal album. Welcome to the two man band called Attila, which broke up when Joel ran off with the other member's wife. (Apparently you can't make this stuff up.)

Attila's one album has been called by some "the worst rock and roll album ever".  You can now judge.  Here, from 1970, is Jon Small (drums) and "William Joel" (just about everything else) in "Wonder Woman". No, I won't be insulted if you listen to just a sample.

Simon and Garfunkel released this song as part of their Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme album.    Here is "A Simple Desultory Philippic (or How I Was Robert McNamara'd into Submission)."  This is one album I wore out in my teen years.

I was on Twitter Friday, and ran across the most incredible music video.  After I read the backstory, I knew I had to share it with you.

In 1972, prolific Italian singer Adriano Celentano wrote a song with nonsense lyrics that (to his Italian ears) sounded like American English.  He was frustrated by a years long trend in Italian music to incorporate English into the lyrics.  Prisencolinensinainciusol is the song, and it made it up to #1 in Italy and several other countries.  It's still played, and recently went viral, almost 50 years after it was recorded.

There is also a video on You Tube with the "lyrics", which are totally nonsense, if you read them. If you hear it, though....what do you think?  I'd love, especially, hearing from non native English speakers in the audience and if this sounds like English to you.  Honestly, it gives me (a native English speaker) a bit of a headache, and that video is pretty, um....different.

Next is a song you will either love or hate.  I love it, and I even owned the (8 track - remember them?) album at one time.  This is a live performance of Hocus Pocus by the Dutch group Focus.

Here's one from"Weird Al" Yankovic, my favorite parody singer. First, from 2014, Weird Al and "Foil". Focus on the video.  It starts out straight, and then goes sideways in the most hilarious way.

I wrap up (so to speak) with a song from 1961 - Does Your Chewing Gum (Lose Its Flavor on the Bedpost Overnight) ,  sung by Lonnie Donegan. In researching this post, I found this was an adaptation of a song written in 1924 and performed by the "Happiness Boys" called "Does The Spearmint Lose Its Flavor on the Bedpost Over-night".

Bonus - the original.  I love the 1920's sound of this song.

And that's...well, you know.  A wrap.

Join me again next Monday, same time, same place.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Obey My Mystery Plant

A big "Thank you" to all those who helped me to identify a mystery plant I had planted last fall and lost the tag for.  I believe I have a positive ID.

It's blooming a little out of season, but I now believe this is an obedient plant,  Physostegia virginiana.
  It's interesting that a couple of my readers tried to identify this through an application and one of the results was "snapdragon". The flowers are snapdragon like, but this does have a square stem like a mint, and, in fact, it is related to mint.  And yes, it will spread.  It's nowhere near five feet tall, which it should be, but, then again, I think it was stunted by its location.

Thank you to my guest photographer's sister, whose expertise came through once again. 

The good news is, deer don't like it but bees and hummingbirds do.

Incidentally, you don't have to obey the plant.  It's called "obedient plant" because you can push flowers to new positions and the flower will stay where it was pushed.

Fun for next year? 

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Small Business Saturday in the Time of Coronavirus

Today is Small Business Saturday.  I traditionally write a Small Business Saturday blog post.  But today, my mind can't seem to get into the groove.

And times are hard, here in the Southern Tier of New York State, and elsewhere.

I looked at some of my previous posts, listing where I went to shop, and the voice in my head recited:

Out of business.  Out of business.  No, not going there - no reason to.  

Out of business.   

Yes, this jewelry store I mentioned in 2012 is a woman-owned business now but I stopped wearing jewelry about two weeks into being sent home to work. 

I didn't worry about Made in USA vs. Made Abroad but Sold by a Local Business, like I had some years. 

I did almost none of the traditional Black Friday or Small Business Saturday things.  I didn't get up at 5am.  I slept in.  I went walking.  I read.  I watched TV.  I got ready to put holiday decorations up. 

 I did feel a little guilty about shopping online at a couple of chain stores that have a brick and mortar presence here, but they offer curbside pickup and, I reason, they employ locals.  I'm sure going to like those slippers I treated myself to.

Via TV, I got my first look at our local indoor mall since March, which was also the last time I was in there.  Several small businesses are located in that mall.  I know someone who works in one of them.  Hate to say it, but too depressing.  

Our Mall, 2019

Santa is coming to the mall December 4 but it's going to be different (what isn't?) This year, for  social distancing reasons, Santa will sit behind "snow globe" decorations that "will allow children to interact with Santa through plexiglass." And, oh yes, you have to make an appointment.

I ended up going to the grand total of one small business today - a (what else?) nursery.  I bought a ZZ plant (something I've wanted to own for some time but never got around to it), a self watering pot (for the Vietnamese Coriander we took cuttings from - they have rooted nicely), some potting soil, and two small but fancy poinsettias.

Plants are my source of happiness.

So, this strange year, I am not going to guilt myself.  I'm alive.  I am not sick. I am who I am, and that is OK.