Monday, February 27, 2012

flowers in the house

Sometimes when I have a small vase of flowers I move them from room to room with me. These ranunculuses (ranunculi?) spent some time on my desk today.

And on the table next to my favorite reading chair. They will go to the kitchen with me when I make dinner. Speaking of reading, I'm one of those people who reads more than one book at a time. Here's some of what's on my reading table right now.

Nocturnes, a collection of poignant stories by Kazuo Ishiguro, was recommended to me by Haricot, one of my favorite bloggers, who writes movingly of Japanese landscapes and tanka poetry, among other things.

I always have flowers or greens in this spot by the stairs. If you've ever lived in a two-story house you know you go up and down many times a day, so I get to see my flowers often.

I don't often buy irises, because they don't last long, but I love the way they look here. Elegant flowers and wild greens.

Here's something I've been thinking about: I love vases, and have a lot of them at home and in the store (above). But I think flowers often look best in the simplest vases, jars, and pitchers. Fancier, more decorative vases seem to be competing with flowers, and they almost always lose.

This Roseville vase is beautiful, but what could I put in it that wouldn't be fighting with it? Last year I often brought ferns, which grown in abundance on our property, into the store, and they look good in any vase. So is there a simple to fancy ratio between flower and vase that has to be proportionate? I am hoping that Jane, who is hosting the always enjoyable Flowers in the House today, has something to say on the matter.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

last weekend, in the Catskills

Mostly a frenzy of painting and fussing with the store (see previous post). But also a Cajun Night dinner/dancing/fundraiser featuring jambalaya, King Cake and music by Captain Squeeze and the Zydeco Moshers, which got pretty crazy. Cabin fever, you know. (Though of course I went home early--I'm no fun.) On the way there we drove through an intense mini-blizzard where I swear it was snowing sideways. But the next morning I drank my coffee and looked at this...

which so inspired me I walked around trying to take artsy photographs,

such as a comparison of snow-laden branches

and icicles.

I'm going back this weekend to finish what I started. 

No more painting for now. The store will be open. Let's see if anyone notices the changes.

Monday, February 20, 2012

is it periwinkle, violet or lavender?

Apparently I had a bee in my bonnet when I got to the store Friday. It was the start of a holiday weekend and a week when many schools are closed for winter break a/k/a Ski Week, and thus a time when people would come to the Catskills to ski and shop. No store owner in their right mind would close their store at such a time. And then there's me. I know I wore you out with paint colors and store inspiration and crises of confidence and this and that, and my plan was to freshen up the store in the dead of March or the mud of April, not Ski Week. But I walked in the store Friday and thought, "I hate this place" and moved everything somewhere else and hung newsprint over the windows and went to the hardware store. What happened then?

I'm pretty sure the words periwinkle, lavender and violet were not mentioned when we discussed what color(s) I should paint the store. But that's what happened to one wall plus that little window wall.

I'll save details for another post,

but I am happy with the results.

And don't the girls look nice together?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

violets (a clue)

Guess what color I painted (part of) the store this weekend? (more on that soon)

I just ordered this DVD--they've been showing it around the Catskills, because Rhinebeck, once the violet capital of the world, is nearby, but I haven't had a chance to see it. I am so excited about it--I love violets. See how easy it is to make me happy? A little info on the history of violets here.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

books for the store

I keep a selection of used books in the store. Mostly non-fiction nature-related. I get most of them at library sales--there was one last week and I went a little crazy.

Field guides sell well. I also keep a small selection of antique and vintage books that may have nothing to do with nature, but are good books that look nice and are useful for the artful (am I being ironic?) displays I aspire to. Jane Eyre, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and Shadows on the Rock by Willa Cather are pictured here with a stack of field guides.

Thus far I have not carried any contemporary fiction. But this time I picked up a bag full. I stayed close to books whose setting or subject is nature or small towns. These are all books I have read and loved and highly recommend.

I've realized it's a mistake to buy things for the store that I am not enthusiastic about, just because I think "somebody" will like them. Sticking with things that I really love, which includes books, seems to be the way to go. So this weekend I'm taking four bags of books along with me and will fill up my favorite bookcase. Have you read anything lately that you love?


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

a year here

I wrote my first post almost a year ago. It took a while to find my voice, but I think I've accomplished that pretty well. My posts are starting to feel a little stale though. I want to keep them relevant to the store, a subject that can seem very narrow, but could go broad and deep, encompassing books, nature, art, design, economics... Should I throw more of that into the mix or do I keep it as it has evolved--auction finds, pictures of the store, random somewhat (sometimes barely) relevant musings?

                    painting by Manet

The most unexpected, and best part of this blog is the wonderful friends I've made from all over the U.S. and around the world--Japan, Hungary, Ireland, Norway, England and more. Thank you.



Thursday, February 9, 2012

around here

 the smell of hyacinth and coffee fills my kitchen

 still lifes create themselves

 I continue with mixed media projects

I remind myself daily to read poetry and take walks.

I am inward with my books, paints and paper. My last job was as a lawyer, representing mentally ill people. I am writing a book about that, and other things. Writing is hard, lonely work. The store has become my outer life--where I connect with people in a meaningful way. There are so many interesting people in the Catskills--I am friends with farmers and artists--that it is where I am in spirit most of the time, and perhaps why, when I am not there, I obsess over things like what color to paint the store walls. 

Of course Sunday I was not inward at all--that night my team won the Superbowl. Above is a photo approprate for a "home, history, nature" blog, of my quarterback and his wife and baby daughter in her blue gingham dress and red Mary Janes. Gingham and Mary Janes. They look so nice together.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Matisse yearnings

I am still obsessing over colors for the store, and find myself drawn to Matisse. Strong pinks, wild blues, pattern and texture, fearless beauty.



I want to go the flower store and the paint store and purchase armloads and cans of lilacs, bluebells and fairy roses; turn my store into a Matisse painting.

Pictures via Pinterest

Saturday, February 4, 2012

instant ancestors

I went to my favorite auction last night. Early on the prices were crazy high, but toward the end of the evening a lot of people left and I got a few things. 

 I had to have this hand colored photograph of a little girl in her sailor dress.

 The dreamy-looking woman drew me to this chromolithograph, but I was also attracted to the sweet pink flowers. It looks like something out of a fairy tale. The color pictures in some very old books were chromolithographs.

 There are pots of small flowering trees, and soft greens and pinks that don't appear to be quite a carpet or the ground--sort of mysterious since one of the little girls shoes disappears into it. The window and curtain tell us that she is inside. The delicate colors and rendering of the background contrast with the dark formality of the sailor dress and the pose.

The woman is holding a bunch of lilacs, and there is another on the ground, though there are none growing in the picture.

Here are some portraits I've collected that have shown up on this blog before, but I think it's nice to look at them together.

 A steel engraving of two little girls, titled The First Lesson.

 A pastel of a sweet and solemn child.

 This print sold quickly, but there has been little interest in the two pictures shown above it.

 Formal family portrait. I'm sure there are clues in their clothes that would tell where they are from and when this was taken.

She looks like a Native American, and I like the hint of a smile. I haven't put her or the family portrait above in the store yet. I have a couple more of a similar style, and will hang them together--I think they will draw more interest that way. Auctioneers often call them "instant ancestors".

Oil on canvas.

When I re-do the store this spring, I am going to put a focus on the art, which is my favorite thing to collect.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

blame it on me being a gemini

Zen and football.

I woke up this morning thinking about the San Francisco Zen Center. My brother practices Buddhism and spends a great deal of time there. The last time I was in California we ate dinner there and I stayed for a dharma talk which was dazzling. I left thinking I would start sitting zen, but of course I didn't. Thinking about that led me to investigate (online) the New England Bonsai Garden, which is on the way to my favorite auction house. I entertained a brief fantasy of selling bonsai trees in the store, which is ridiculous as they require special care and I'd have to take them back and forth from New York to Massachusetts, and I'd probably kill them. I'd like to think I'm the kind of person who could take care of a bonsai tree, but I'm actually a wildflower gal.

I'm not going to the store this weekend, haven't been to any auctions, and will be spending the next three days waiting for the Super Bowl. So while I am listening to yet another sports podcast (a side of me that you might find disturbing and wish I would go back to posting about ducks and waterfalls) I am setting myself to the task of writing better comments. I am altogether too lazy about it--I overuse exclamation points!!! And the word love! So I'm starting a word list to refer to when I comment on your blogs. Here's what I have so far:

So while I am waiting for the most intriguing football game of the year, I look forward to reading your charming posts. Feel free to scold me if I use too many of these!!!!!

Enjoy your weekend,