Saturday, August 29, 2015

Sitting a Moment

I love outdoor chairs--summertime chairs, really.  They look so inviting, so convivial.  One can sit with a glass of iced tea and follow the wind, the sunlight ... listen to the birds, the silence. Or, with a friend, look out over the garden, the hills.  It all lends itself to an earlier era.  Any tasks can be put off awhile.  Any electronic devices.  It's just time to sit a moment, clear your mind, and say, "Ahhhh...."

One, two, three, four chairs.  Take your pick.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Clark

Reflecting pool

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, is featuring a splendid exhibit called "Van Gogh and Nature" until September 13th.  A friend and I recently took a Saturday to make the trip and view both the Van Gogh as well as much of the permanent collection--or at least until our feet gave out.  The Clark recently opened after an extensive renovation providing a more industrial and extensive feel than the old venue which I always found lovely and accessible.  But, not complaining, the day we went, the place was so popular that all paved parking was taken as was all grass parking.  And the street outside (Rt. 7) had cars parked along it for probably a mile.  The new venue offers comfortable chairs, umbrellas for sitting outdoors, a handsome reflecting pool, a couple of cafes with excellent offerings, footpaths, new tree plantings, and softly-lit rooms to keep sunlight from harming the art work.

The Van Gogh exhibit had been put together to include works by painters who had influenced him, including Corot, Hiroshige, Millet, and Monet.  It was arranged chronologically, ending, of course, with Paris, Provence, and Auvers (where he died).  Along with many landscapes and renderings of flowers, it included works depicting birds' nests, moths, and insects.  I was particularly fond of the paintings of glorious Provence--of Arles and Saint-Rémy. My friend and I agreed that our favorite painting was, in fact, "Cypresses" with the Alpilles in the background, a work in which the sky, trees, hills, and foreground simply danced.  A splendid, vibrant, magnificent piece.  We two stood before it, transfixed.

Always thinking about what I can offer in the way of blog postings, I had my camera with me.  I was not permitted to take photos of the Van Gogh exhibit itself.  But I was allowed to photograph anything in the permanent collection (without a flash). The works of George Inness and Winslow Homer were favorites of the Clarks and are now in a gallery of their own.  In the painting below by Alfred Stevens, I was totally smitten by his ability to portray velvet using the medium of oil paint.  As for Gauguin's piece, it was painted after his return from Tahiti.

George Inness - "New Jersey Landscape" 1891

George Inness - "Autumn in Montclair" 1894

George Inness - "Green Landscape" 1886

Alfred Stevens - "A Duchess (The Blue Dress)" 1866

Henri Fantin-Latour - "Roses in a Bowl and Dish" 1885

Paul Gauguin - "Young Christian Girl" 1894

Lily pond

Saturday, August 15, 2015

A Gallery of Photos: Summertime

As summertime winds down, I salute this delicious time of year ... and offer thanks!!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

"A Thing for Little Old Ladies"

Okay.  True story.

One morning recently, I found that my three phones had no dial tone.  I unplugged and re-plugged each.  Zilch.  (I was able to get on line, however.) Of course, I immediately used my cell phone to call the phone company who said that if the problem lay inside my house, I'd be charged for the repairman's visit.  If outside, I wouldn't.

I waited all morning.  No repairman.  I called again. "Oh," they said, "he's not coming today.  He'll be there tomorrow."

"What time?"

"It could be anytime."

"That means I'll have to wait around another day."

"Yes."  Of course, they added, if the problem lay outside the house, I wouldn't have to wait around all day.  But, of course, I wouldn't know where the problem lay until he came.

Next day.  I called again to see if they had any better idea when he'd come. They didn't.  It got to be noon.  2:00.  3:00.  I was picturing having wasted another day when, at 4:00 there he was!

First thing, he said he'd have to come inside the house to check my modem--which had been giving me trouble lately.  "Is that where the problem lies," I asked?  He didn't know.  He said he'd also have to check the phone box outside the house, his "hut" down the street, the lines between it and my house, etc.

In the meantime we chatted about how he liked this part of town and  how he lived off in the boonies and had had a terrible mud season.  He talked about his kids, their school.  And I offered some friendly topics of my own.

Around 5:00 he said everything was finished and working properly.  I could get calls in; I could get calls out; the modem was fine.  Since he'd been inside the house, I asked if I'd be charged for his hour of work.

"The fact that the line went dead wasn't your fault," he said.  "We won't charge you.  Besides," he added with a twinkle, "I have a thing for little old ladies."

ZOONK.  He means me!!!, I said to myself.  I almost laughed out loud but saved that for after he'd left.  In fact, I wasn't sure how to respond. I AM little; I AM in my 70s; I AM female.  Does that make me a little old lady?  

I actually looked it up to see how that term stands today.  To conclude:  there's the little old lady who swallowed a fly, the little old lady passing by, the little old lady who lived in a shoe, and the little old lady who was not afraid of anything.  Not all that bad company, I decided.  Let's just smile and leave it there.