Monday, November 30, 2009

What The Past Few Days Looked Like

Here's our town, looking north from the southern border, above the lagoon. A curving coastline with lingering tendrils of seasonal fog and ocean mist, which will subside as the day warms.

My daughter stopped by and took me along to the fruit stand, which has replaced hundreds of pumpkins with some truly grand Christmas trees. We wandered through, admiring their shapes and breathing in the wonderful smell of the forest.

There are no hard and fast rules for Christmas decorating here - it's always a jumble of treasured mementos that remind us of times gone by. This year the old Swedish Dala horse is in the front window, standing amidst boughs of orange tree branches and glittered fruit on an old pierced tin bread safe trimmed with paper icicles.

More icicles on the fireplace mantel, where the Santas congregate with a plastic angel band from Germany.

The wind blew and clouds gathered, but we only had the briefest rain, nowhere near enough to have any impact on the drought. As the days grow shorter, the sun sets further south. It can usually be photographed out the kitchen window, but this time of year, as it disappears on the other side of the Pacific, it sets right down the middle of our street.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

20th Century Barbershops ~ #18 In A Series

The photographer is Russell Lee, for the Farm Services Administration. The photograph above is the local barbershop in Quemado, Texas, March, 1939. Below, a scene in July, 1942, in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Scenes On A Postcard From Abroad

If you are a fan of modernisme, Barcelona is known as a treasure trove of architectural and artistic wonders.

These three incredible mosaics are part of Barcelona's Casa Lleo-Morera (House of Lions & Mulberrries).

Friday, November 27, 2009

Looking Back At The French Market

Although the oldest structures date from 1813 (the year before Old Hickory and his ragtag soldiers defeated the British in the incredible, legendary Battle of New Orleans), the French Market in New Orleans has been an active market since 1791. Many of the buildings were renovated by the WPA during the 1930's Great Depression. These two photographs are circa 1900 and courtesy of the Detroit Publishing Company.

What were open air markets are today enclosed buildings housing shops and restaurants catering mainly to the tourist trade.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving Thanks

Wishing you good food, good company and blessings too numerous to count. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. Please remember our armed forces who've volunteered to do the hard work of keeping us safe and defending freedom, so far from home. May God protect them and return them soon to the arms of their loving families.

The art nouveau illustration from the Chap Book was made by artist Will Bradley in 1895.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Everything's Coming Up Roses

The nights have turned cool and there's no doubting that winter is just around the corner. But the days have been warm and clear and happily, it's still possible to wander around barefoot most of the time.

Yesterday, busy on Thanksgiving errands, these roses caught my eye, blooming along the asphalt parking lot of a local shopping center - white with a blush of pink against an oh so blue sky.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Creating The Landscape Of Mood

Isaac Levitan (1860-1900) was a Russian artist of world renown who was unknown to me until his work was featured on one of my favorite blogs, The Golden Fish. Born in a shtetl in Lithuania, his profound talent was so obvious, he was enrolled in a prestigious Moscow art school at 13. The death of his mother two years later, and of his father two years after that plunged him and his brother into abject poverty. Through the intervention of other artists, he was awarded a scholarship to continue at school. Two years on, in 1879, after an assassination attempt on the life of Alexander II, Jews were rounded up for mass deportations from the largest cities. Patrons of the arts pleaded with officials on his behalf and Levitan was allowed to return to Moscow.

Isaac Levitan is credited with creating the "landscape of mood" and over the short years he lived, created over 1,000 works. He spent the last year of his life at the home in Crimea of his closest friend, Anton Chekhov. The painting above is titled "Lake" and was his last, unfinished work. He painted "Waterliles", below in 1895.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Beauty In Unexpected Places

Yesterday morning a twig about to be swept up on the patio was not what it seemed. Just before the broom came to pass, this butterfly spread its wings and then stuck around long enough for me to dash for my camera and snap a quick picture. A great start to a fresh week.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

20th Century Barbershops ~ #17 In A Series

That's Fred Allen's Barber Shop on Clinton Street in Frankfurt, Kentucky, circa the 1930s. The photograph is courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society.

Below, another photograph by the highly regarded Walker Evan, who traveled the country documenting daily life for the Farm Services Administration during the Great Depression. Sorry, no date or location.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Mission Of The Sierras

Mission San Antonio de Padua was founded near Monterey by Father Junipero Serra in July, 1771, the third in the chain of missions in California. Having fallen into a state of major disrepair due to the 1906 earthquake, efforts to save the mission began in the 1920s and took 50 years to complete.

The mission is surrounded by military land that was purchased from the Hearst family by the U.S. Army during World War II. The mission land comprises 85 acres.

Known as the Mission Of The Sierras, it was the site of the first Christian wedding performed in a mission and the first of the mission buildings to use fire tiled roofing.

The color photomechanical print was made by the Detroit Publishing Company in 1898.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Georgia On My Mind

Two more of Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii's 100 year old color pictures of Russians. The top one is a Georgian woman, posed in the shade of a tree, wearing her holiday best.

Below, two Armenian women pose in their everyday native dress. The notes in the margin make note that they are Catholics.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Seeing Red

It's become a habit to take my camera along just about everywhere. Sometimes a theme will develop on its own. Such was the case yesterday with the color red.

It was a morning of errands. First a stop at the fish market - red crabs, looking somewhat pensive.

Then on to the fruit stand - holiday garlands of red chilis!

And then the pink hibiscus with the ruby throat, beckoning bees and hummingbirds, blooming in my daughter's garden.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Our local botanical garden has some nice tucked away ponds scattered throughout, with water lilies that bloom most of the year. My challenge was to get a photograph without a lot of the surrounding foliage reflected in the water.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Venetian Gondoliers In Central Park

The year was 1900, the place was Central Park in New York City, and these gondoliers from Venice, Italy, docked their vessels (seen at the left, flying the Stars and Stripes) long enough to pose under a beautifully designed pavilion.

The photograph is courtesy of the Detroit Publishing Company.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Taking Pride

When my daughter was barely two, my mother would sit her down with a huge tin full of buttons and a long, blunt rugmaker's needle. My mom would either knit or embroider while my little one sat at her feet, engrossed in threading colorful buttons onto yards of sturdy thread. It wasn't long before she developed the skill to embroider and make clothes for her stuffed animals on her own. That's one of her first projects, above, that's been tucked away these many years.

Fast forward more than two decades, and now she makes her living creating holiday ornaments, with a big emphasis on Christmas. Her goods were featured this month in the Christmas issue of Victorian Homes, below.

Below is the page of her merchandise the magazine featured. She's been working on this year's collection since last February, and with Christmas this close, her energies are directed to packing and shipping. So far this month, boxes have been shipped as far afield as Tasmania, the Canary Islands, France, Denmark, Great Britain, Ireland, Canada and Australia. Never a dull moment! If you'd like to see the rest of her decorations, you can go to

Sunday, November 15, 2009

20th Century Barbershops ~ #16 In A Series

The Stanley, Idaho service station/barber shop combination above was captured by Al Monner in August, 1940.

The photograph of the Florence, Colorado barber shop below was taken in the 1890s, which isn't the 20th century, but close enough. Notice the saddle used as a sign, hanging above the men to the left, a bicycle in the foreground, and what looks like a dog curled up at the man's feet.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Los Angeles - 1907

Tattoos aren't nearly as uncommon as they once were, but 102 years ago, this woman in Los Angeles definitely stood out.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Yesterday On The Beach

Brown pelicans are a familiar sight around here, either flying in formation, diving straight down into the ocean for a meal, or bobbing on the water's surface just past the surf line.

There was a south wind blowing yesterday that raised white caps and made the waves choppy, but the tide was low, the sun was out and the air was warm - perfect conditions for an afternoon barefoot walk along the Pacific shore.

Or a bike ride on the sand.

The reefs are home to numerous little creatures who have created a world all their own.

My walk wrapped up just as my daughter was getting out of the surf. The air may be warm, but the ocean temperature has dropped enough for full length wetsuits until summer rolls around again.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

In The Swim At The Sutro Baths

When the Sutro Baths opened in 1896 on the western edge of the city of San Francisco, the complex was the world's largest indoor swimming complex. With 6 saltwater and 1 fresh water pools, the massive Baths used 100,000 square feet of glass, 600 tons of iron for the columns and 3,500,000 board feet of lumber.

At high tide, the Pacific Ocean flooded into the pools and at low tide, massive generators pumped the salt water in. The pools had 7 tobaggon slides and 30 rope swings, and the promenade alone could accommodate 3,700 people.

That's the famous Cliff House in the distance, owned by the same Mr. Sutro who developed the Baths.

In the circa 1920 photograph above, a well to do family poses in their Sunday best at the Baths.

The photograph below shows what's left of the Sutro Baths today - ruins. In 1966, the main building was in the process of being demolished when it burned to the ground. Thanks to Flying Toaster for providing the picture.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans' Day

This is a picture of my mom's father, photographed when he was a soldier in World War I. The men in our family have fought for our country's freedom going back to the American Revolution, when Grandpa's great great great grandfather was the minister of Brimfield, Massachusetts and sent the oldest four of his sons off to fight the Redcoats for the independence of the Colonies.

Today we honor American veterans for their service and sacrifice and their willingness to do the hard work so that we may sleep safely in our beds. May we learn from their selflessness and be worthy of their sacrifice.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Pailolo Channel On Canvas

Both of these paintings are by a woman named Kim Starr, formerly of Hanapepe, Kauai and currently of Washington State. She has a keen eye and ability for capturing the colors of Hawaii's tropical water. The view in the paintings looks like Pailolo Channel, the rough and windy stretch of water between Maui and Molokai.

Pailolo translates as "crazy fisherman" in Hawaiian.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Colors Of Autumn

The fruit stand never disappoints, neither food nor photo-wise. Autumn's gourds are pleasing both in color and texture.

The first paper white narcissus are blooming in the garden, a month ahead of time. Dutch iris bulbs that were planted in October have broken ground and could be blooming early, as well. Still no buds on the freesias, but the foliage is a good 12 inches tall already.

This busy honey bee was so intent collecting pollen from a gallardia flower, he didn't mind me leaning in close.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

20th Century Barbershops ~ #15 In A Series

In a 1950s photograph by Mary Celestia Parler, we see Fred. C. Smith on fiddle and his friend on guitar being recorded for posterity in the Bentonville, Arkansas Oriole Barber Shop.

Also from the 1950s, this Robert Frank photograph of a barber shop in McClellanville, South Carolina was shot through a screen door.

Below is an undated photograph of a St. Louis, Missouri barbershop located in a motel. It has a touch of the mad scientist look about it.