It is the small simple things of life that bring us peace.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Flash thoughts

This will not be a deep, insightful post.  As I was getting out of bed this morning I had a number of thoughts about a topic I've been thinking about all jump into my head. All at once, in a split second.  As I went through the day I thought about these thoughts and, while I didn't come to a grand conclusion, I did feel like I made some progress in my thinking. 
As I tried to write the thoughts down and record the experience I realized what happened.  I had had a flash thought!  Just like the flash mobs that appear, except this was my thoughts that all gathered in one split second in my brain.  Flash thoughts!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Maundy Thursday

The Last Supper.jpg
This is an edited re-post from 3 years ago.  This painting and it's artist intrigue me, so I'm sharing again.

Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of the Last Supper is probably the most well know image associated with Maundy Thursday and the disciples last meal together. I’m fascinated with the painting and the man that painted the original fresco on one of the walls of the Dominican monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. Matteo Bandello, who was a novice monk at the time, recorded that Da Vinci would sometimes work on the fresco from sunrise to sunset without stopping and at other times would spend hours a day standing in front of the work with his arms folded across his chest staring at the figures on the wall. Bandello also reports that on one occasion he saw Da Vinci leave another job site and walk quickly across the village in the hot sun to the monastery only to pick up a paintbrush to paint one or two strokes.

Da Vinci based the figures of the Last Supper on real people, people that he encountered and people that he just saw in passing. Detailed sketches of faces and body features, such as hands and studies of the folds of cloth for Peter’s sleeve are found in his sketchbooks. He also made lists of possible reactions of the disciples, such as twisting the fingers of a hand or turning to look at a companion. Leonardo also broke with a tradition from the Middle Ages in which the disciples are shown as being stiffly linear in their arrangement at the table.

Work began on the fresco in 1495 and concluded sometime after 1497 (a fire at the monastery destroyed records so the dates are based on other documents). Sadly, within a few years the paint had already begun to flake and crumble. Leonardo had used a dry-wall painting technique that was appropriate; however, it was his experimentation with mixing oil and tempera for the painting on the dry plaster that was the cause of the subsequent flaking off of the paint. Working on dry plaster enabled him to work slower and to be able to re-paint but resulted in the paint eventually flaking off the surface. Moisture and dampness in the refectory also contributed to the incompatibility of the paint and prepared wall surface.

Restorations have taken place from time to time. Recent efforts have revealed many hidden details such as a hand drawn sketch done on the prepared wall before the final preparatory coat of gesso and imprimatura. Several authentic copies of the fresco have survived and have been invaluable in restoration efforts. The fresco is so fragile that extensive work is not practical. Today’s viewer sees only about 20% of the original version of the Last Supper and while it appears ghost-like on the wall of the ancient monastery viewers still witness the expressions and gestures of the apostles and the details of the table set for the meal that were painted over 500 years ago.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Picnic in the park

Somethings just never change, thankfully.  The simple pleasures that delighted our grandparents and those even before them still delight us today.
On a recent visit to the Texas State Capitol I discovered that one of the plaques on the grounds shared that a small lake had once existed in that spot.
 "In December 1906, the Austin Daily Statesman described the Capitol grounds as, "...a favorite resort, for young and old, at all seasons, and during the summer months are the scene of nightly concerts that attract the music lovers of the city." A small lake occupied the large depression that still exists west of here, at one time supplied by an underground spring in the area.  The lake was difficult to maintain and produced hordes of mosquitos. As then State Gardener J.A. Lott explained, " was not built right and every rain filled it with mud and trash...the pool in fair weather was unsightly with an accumulation of trash," so the lake was drained by 1926." Copied from the plaque on the west side of the Capitol, facing Colorado Street.
The depression where the lake was located is hard to see today, but it is there.  And, amazingly there are still groups of people picnicking on the Capitol grounds, enjoying themselves even today.  What is it about a picnic in a beautiful spot?  That has to be one of the simple little things of life!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Wednesday 03.16.2016

Shadows on the stairs at the McNay Art Museum intrigued me as much as any of the art.  I would love to have sat down on the top stair and watched the light move through the lattice!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Friday Fives 03.11.2016

Tonight I have many things for which to give thanks.  Here are 5:
  1. I'm thankful for the much needed rain that has fallen on my part of the earth this week.  The color green has reappeared in the landscape and the wildflowers are now starting to come out.  I'm also thankful we were spared from flooding and am concerned for those who are dealing with it tonight.
  2. I am thankful for leftovers.  Yes, leftovers that I can warm up on a week night and enjoy. A tasty meal with no cooking, what more could you ask for?
  3. I am thankful that Daylight Saving Time begins this weekend.  I am ready for a little more light in the evening.  A little more time outside is always a good thing.
  4. I am thankful for discoveries that I make.  I delight in finding something new (to me) and then finding about it.  This includes technology! Or finding people who lived long ago, yet their lives are still with us today.
  5. I am thankful for stories with happy endings.  For stories of pets reunited with owners, for families that find housing when they expected none, for people who turn their lives around or who survive great crises. Happy endings, we need more of them.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Wednesday 03.09.2016

A woman is like a tea bag - you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.
(Attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt)

Friday, March 4, 2016

My new word

I love words.  I love the way they bring visual images to my mind, images that stay.  I love the way they lead me along into new places and into new thoughts.  I love the way they can be arranged and rearranged and still convey the same meaning.  Words, how dear they are.  And, how many they are in all languages. 

So, when I see or hear a new word I have to discover more.  What does it mean, how is it used, and does it have a root that maybe leads to another word?  The dictionary, also full of words, is consulted.
Today I discovered the word "elucidation".  Don't you love the way it sounds?  Say it several times and you'll agree. It sent me running to the dictionary. 

The root word is "elucidate".  Elucidate, elucidated, and elucidating are all verbs. As a transitive verb it means "to make lucid especially by explanation or analysis"; as an intransitive verb it means "to give a clarifying explanation".  Elucidation and elucidator are used as nouns and elucidative is an adjective.  Where did it come from?  To answer that very simply it is derived from the Latin word lucidus which gives us the English word lucid.  And when did it come into use? Sometime around 1586.

Thank you to Merriam-Webster for this wealth of information.  I'm telling you - I love words!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Made of what?

If you read  my Doorway Into the Past blog then you know about the McNay Museum of Art that I featured there.  Marion Koogler McNay bequeathed her Spanish Colonial-Revival home and surrounding 23 acres to be preserved as a museum of modern art.  Her collection of 700 pieces of European and Southwestern art pieces formed the core of the museum when it opened in 1954. Today the museum curates almost 20,000 pieces of art.

A current exhibit titled "The Extraordinary Ordinary: Three Installations" has three artists using "the stuff of ordinary life to create extraordinary environments".  While all 3 were interesting my 12-year old companion and I found artist Tom Burckhardt's creation to hold us captive for quite a while.  He created an artist's studio from corrugated cardboard, black paint, wood and hot glue and looked over nothing.
 We carefully went over every detail commenting over and over, "look at that" or "how on earth did he make that" as well as "I wonder how many times he had to re-do that"!
There were brushes and various types of paint all with meticulously painted labels. The small stove held a pot and a can of Campbell's tomato soup stored on a shelf above. A phonograph on the shelf was ready to play a tune and there were handy reference books on the table.
The window, sink, overhead pipes all look real, don't they?  Such creativity - who would have thought of this!

And, I have to add that I was just as thrilled when we entered a room and there on the wall was one of Monet's studies of Water Lilies! I wanted to just bring it home with me, but perhaps buying a copy would be a little more prudent!