Yoshiko cherry trees in bloom, University of Washington campus

A Prayer in Spring
by Robert Frost

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees. . . .

Finally!  The cherry blossoms are in full bloom at the University of Washington.  I took these photos on the Quad this morning:

The floating world; upside down reflections in a rain puddle

Some people travel all the way to Japan to view cherry blossoms, but we in Seattle are fortunate to be able to experience hanami in our own city.  Another way to see them is via books.  I saw this book of Japanese prints with cherry blossoms at the library:

Cherry Blossoms by Freer/Sackler Smithsonian Museums

 

“Viewing Cherry Blossoms,” attributed to Katsushika Hokusai

 

“Snow, Moon, and Flowers,” by Takahashi Shotei

 

“Avenue of Cherry Trees,” by Yoshida Hiroshi

 

“Spring in Mount Atago,” by Kawase Hasui

 

“Spring at Kintai Bridge,” by Kawase Hasui

 

“A Courtesan Under a Cherry Tree,” by Katsushika Hokusai

 

“Crow Perched on a Flowering Cherry Branch and Full Moon,” by Ohara Kosan

“What a strange thing!
To be alive
Beneath cherry blossoms.”
— Kobayashi Issa

My watercolor sketch of cherry blossoms

 

 

My Marimekko

March 16, 2017

Marimekko print — Winnie the Pooh

Marimekko print, detail

Back in the 1970s when I was working in Minneapolis, I found this Marimekko fabric panel at a fabric warehouse.  I bought it and saved it in my fabric stash, until about a decade later when I had it hand-quilted and made into a baby quilt for my daughter.  I still love the graphic style of the classic Winnie-the-Pooh images.  I suppose you could call it a vintage quilt, and for me it is a cherished keepsake.

The Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle is currently hosting an exhibit of Marimekko fabrics and designs.  A friend and I went yesterday, and we found the colorful pieces quite uplifting on a gray, rainy Seattle day.  I only wish the exhibit were larger, as it left me wanting to see more work from this captivating design house.

Marimekko is a Finnish design company, and its team of designers create not only fabric prints, but also simple and fashionable clothes and home products.  I could easily see myself wearing some of the loose, blousey, simple dresses over black leggings.  If you are interested in finding out more about Marimekko, its website includes a blog, and a series of posts entitled “Every Print Has a Story,” that give some background into the designers and their work.

Here are some photos from the “Marimekko, With Love” exhibit at the Nordic Heritage Museum:

 

 

 

“It is a spectacle pure and simple, the most magnificent free show that nature presents to man. . . . [N]ot to view the coming one would be literally to lose the opportunity of a lifetime.”
— “On the Solar Eclipse of 1925,” The New York Times

Tyler Norgren's new book about the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse

Tyler Nordgren’s new book about the August 21, 2017 

To witness a total solar eclipse total solar eclipse is a rare phenomenon.  The last time one touched the mainland United States was in 1979.  But on August 21, 2017 some of us in the United States will have a chance to see one without traveling too far.  A continent-spanning eclipse like the one this year hasn’t occurred in the United States since 1918.

Total solar eclipses happen when our Moon is exactly the right distance from the Earth to cover the sun completely.  For a couple of minutes, the Earth is fully in the shadow of the Moon.

Eclipses actually happen fairly frequently, but sometimes the Moon’s shadow is cast in the endless reaches of space.  Imperfect alignments happen, too, and those are partial eclipses.  To experience a total solar eclipse in one particular point on Earth more than once is very rare indeed.  Astronomer and physics professor Tyler Nordgren, in his new book, Sun, Moon, Earth, says, “Though eclipses happen roughly twice each year, each one follows a different path across our planet.  The patterns repeat in shape every eighteen years, but each time, the path is positioned one-third of the way around the planet and a little farther north or south than before. . . . eventually any spot on Earth can expect, on average, to see totality every 375 years.”

The path of totality for the August 21, 2017 solar eclipse cuts a swath across the entire United States.  You can find maps at http://www.GreatAmericanEclipse.com.  It will start at 10:26 PDT on the Oregon coast and 93 minutes later will move away from the Atlantic coast.

Path of totality on August 21, 2017

Path of totality on August 21, 2017

 

Path of totality in Oregon (from Great American Eclipse website)

Path of totality in Oregon (from Great American Eclipse website)

I have made camping reservations on the Oregon coast for a few days overlapping the day of the eclipse.  That morning, I will have to drive about 2 hours south to be in the path of totality.  Barring clouds (always a possibility on the coast), I should experience one of Nature’s most awesome shows.

The descriptions in Nordgren’s book have primed me to expect a wondrous and multi sensory few minutes:  “. . . the temperature drops, birds grow quiet, shadows sharpen, and colors become muted and fade.  Then, all at once, the Sun turns black and the stars come out.  Overhead a ghostly aura steams outwards around the Sun’s dark disk.”

And, “The corona, a ring of immense pearly tendrils, envelopes the darkness and stretches off into the sky in all directions.  It is unimaginably beautiful and only visible during these few precious minutes of totality.  All around it are the brighter stars and planets, invisible until now; it is a day that has become night at noon, with the Sun, Moon, planets, and stars overhead all at once.”

You don’t want to miss this year’s eclipse because you will have a long wait for another one.  The next total solar eclipses on American soil will happen in 2024, 2044, 2045, and 2052.

I wonder how I will be affected by seeing a day with two dawns and midnight at noon?

“. . .[T]he great lesson of the eclipse to the masses who saw it is that one little unusual phenomenon in the skies makes us realize how closely akin we all are in this common planetary boat out on an ethereal sea that has no visible shores.”
— The New York Times, January 25, 1925

 

 

 

World of Wearable Art exhibit at Seattle's MoPop

World of Wearable Art exhibit at Seattle’s MoPop

I recently wrote about the Yves St Laurent exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum, but there is another fashion exhibit currently showing in the city at the Museum of Pop Culture (formerly known as the Experience Music Project).  A friend and I went to see the World of Wearable Art show which features winning looks from New Zealand’s international design competition.  The fashions all were constructed using unconventional materials — fiberglass, wood veneer, plastic, old tires, etc.  These artists’ imaginations are off the charts!  I loved the hybrid offerings, a marriage of art and fashion.  Here are a few samples:

Warrior outfit made of tires

Wood veneer

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The venue, a building designed by Frank Gehry, is as stunning as the exhibits in the show:

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The Museum of Pop Culture is on the grounds of the Seattle Center.  Just look for the Space Needle, which stands as sentry over the grounds.

Space Needle

Space Needle

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What We Need Is Here

November 26, 2016

Skagit Valley snow geese

Skagit Valley snow geese

The Wild Geese
by Wendell Berry

Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.

Flock of snow geese in the Skagit Valley

Flock of snow geese in the Skagit Valley

 

Watercolor painting of Skagit Valley snow geese

Watercolor painting of Skagit Valley snow geese

Blueberry bushes, Skagit Valley

Blueberry bushes, Skagit Valley

“. . . in solitude, or in that deserted state when we are surrounded by human beings and yet they sympathise not with us, we love the flowers, the grass and the waters and the sky.  In the motion of the very leaves of spring in the blue air there is then found a secret correspondence with our heart.”
— Shelley, On Love

This quote is the epigraph of Mary Oliver’s new book of essays, Upstream.  A timely message for me these days when I am feeling so out of sync with my countrymen and women.  Nature can help to heal a bruised heart.

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Yves Saint Laurent exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum

Yves Saint Laurent exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum

The colorful fashions on display at the Seattle Art Museum’s Yves Saint Laurent exhibit were an appreciated antidote to the November’s grayness (weather and spirit).  What an original and creative designer he was.  Many of his pieces are classics in the fashion world, but this retrospective look attests to his work as art as well.  The exhibit runs through January 8, 2017.

Evening gown from Paris collection, 1983

Evening gown from Paris collection, 1983

Pink ruffle cape over black sheath dress, 1977

Pink ruffle cape over black sheath dress, 1977

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Design sketches and fabric swatches

Design sketches and fabric swatches

This is a wedding gown! From 1970.

This is a wedding gown! From 1970.

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Fringed raffia coat, 1967

Fringed raffia coat, 1967

Art dress in homage to Tom Wassermann, 1966

Art dress in homage to Tom Wassermann, 1966

I loved the bodice which looked like a textured painting of poppies. Brilliant!

I loved the bodice which looked like a textured painting of poppies. Brilliant!