The Wind’s Eye

November 17, 2013

“The word window originates from the Old Norse ‘vindauga’, from ‘vindr – wind’ and ‘auga–eye’, i.e., wind eye.”
— from Wikipedia

Vines and apartment window

Vines and apartment window

I’ve always found something evocative about windows, and then I recently read that the word derived from Viking times meaning “wind eye.”  That seems appropriate even all these centuries later.

I liked the vine-covered facade of this apartment building on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, with windows nestled in.

Vine-covered apartments

Vine-covered windows

Looking upVine-covered windows“Looking from outside into an open window one never sees as much as when one looks through a closed window. There is nothing more profound, more mysterious, more pregnant, more insidious, more dazzling than a window lighted by a single candle. What one can see out in the sunlight is always less interesting than what goes on behind a windowpane. In that black or luminous square life lives, life dreams, life suffers.

Across the ocean of roofs I can see a middle-aged woman, her face already lined, who is forever bending over something and who never goes out. Out of her face, her dress, and her gestures, out of practically nothing at all, I have made up this woman’s story, or rather legend, and sometimes I tell it to myself and weep.

If it had been an old man I could have made up his just as well.
And I go to bed proud to have lived and to have suffered in some one besides myself.

Perhaps you will say “Are you sure that your story is the real one?” But what does it matter what reality is outside myself, so long as it has helped me to live, to feel that I am, and what I am?”
— Charles Baudelaire, “Windows” translated by Louise Varese

The character of old Seattle still graces the ambience of the Pioneer Square area of Seattle and along Western Avenue to the Pike Place Market.

The Smith Tower

The Smith Tower

The 42-floor Smith Tower was the tallest building on the West Coast when it was built in 1914.

The 42-floor Smith Tower was the tallest building on the West Coast when it was built in 1914.

Totem Pole in Pioneer Square

Totem Pole in Pioneer Square

Pioneer Square totem pole

Another totem pole by the Iron Pergola

Another totem pole by the Iron Pergola

Ink sketch of Pioneer Square totem pole

Iron Pergola, Pioneer Square

Iron Pergola, Pioneer Square

Vine-covered wall along Western Avenue

Vine-covered wall along Western Avenue

Man hole cover on Western Avenue

Man hole cover on Western Avenue

Along Western Ave

Busker with duct-taped accordion, Pike Place Market

Busker with duct-taped accordion, Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market

Sketch of rock fish

Sketch of rock fish

Wisteria vine framing a porch

Wisteria vine framing a porch

” . . . twenty clusters of wisteria are hanging right outside my bay window, each one a tidy tumble of gray-purple faces with lavender bonnets.  I think they look like turn-of-the-century ladies seated in church pews.”
— Diane Ackerman, One Hundred Names for Love:  A Stroke, a Marriage, and the Language of Healing

The wisteria is now past its bloom.  I took these photos last month when Seattle’s yards and gardens were graced with the purple clusters.  I wanted to try my hand at painting them, and I just now got around to it.  Enjoy!

IMAGE_52253A81-177B-46BE-95E4-B779CAB19CEF

"Turn-of-the-century ladies in bonnets"

“Turn-of-the-century ladies in bonnets”

Watercolor sketch of wisteria

Watercolor sketch of wisteria

 

 

Creeping Ivy

March 8, 2013

Ivy vine creeping up a tree trunk

Ivy vine creeping up a tree trunk

Ivy and moss.  I like the hearts formed by this leave's veins.

Ivy and moss. I like the hearts formed by this leaf’s veins.

Watercolor sketch of ivy leav

Watercolor sketch of ivy leaf

Another watercolor sketch of ivy leaf

Another watercolor sketch of ivy leaf

 

First taste of homemade blackberry jam on toast

I picked enough blackberries from the bushes in our yard to make my annual batch of blackberry jam.  I use a recipe given to me by my friend and colleague, Shirley, who has perfected her jam-making talents over the many years I’ve worked with her.  Everyone at work looks forward to Christmas when Shirley gives each of us a jar of her homemade blackberry jam — a welcome taste of summer!

I put my jam in the freezer, so I don’t worry about sealing the finished product.

Here’s Shirley’s recipe.

Mix in a large kettle:

  • 5 c mashed blackberries (okay to leave seeds in)
  • 1 box Sure-Jell
  • a little dab of butter or margarine

Cook on high until boiling, then add 5-1/2 c sugar all at once.  Cook on high until the jam comes to a full rolling boil, and then continue cooking for 1 minute more.  Remove from heat and ladle into sterilized jars.

Makes about 7 cups.

Lots of ripening Himalayan blackberries

Some of the vines had a single ripe berry at their tip!

Picked berries and stained fingers

Jars of jam

Pyramid of jam jars

Tasty bite

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chrysalis sculptures by Barbara De Pirro attached to a tree on Greenwood Ave N

Right now the trees that line Greenwood Avenue North in Seattle have become an art gallery of sorts.  Several artists have created installations as part of a program called “Art Interruptions.”  The artworks, on Seattle sidewalks and parks, are temporary installations and will come down in six weeks.  According to the Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, the art gives “passersby a brief interruption in the day with a moment of surprise, beauty or humor.”

This is what I see when I remember to look up as I walk to work along Greenwood Avenue these days:

Chrysalis-like balls

Chrysalis sculptures composed of recycled plastic packaging, bags, and bands

Miniature replica of a Greenwood home by Carolina Silva

Another tiny house reproduction, one of five

Tree house art

A wooden vine constructed by Chris Papa wraps around a tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

Purple Clemetis

August 3, 2012

Clematis vine

Clematis

Clematis (rear view)

Clematis

Watercolor sketch of clematis

Another watercolor sketch of clematis

 

 

 

 

 

Nature is waking up!  Every spot of color is welcome to my eyes.  And bits of color are popping up all over.

Early daffodil

Crocuses

Dew-spotted crocuses

Purple and white striped crocus bud ready to bloom

Camellia

Vine-wrapped tree trunk

Forsythia blooms reflected in a window

Morning Glories

June 27, 2009

Morning glory trumpet in my garden

Morning glory trumpet in my garden

Detail of white morning glory

Detail of white morning glory

These white morning glories grow like weeds in my yard and garden.  I’ve never attempted to tame them onto an arbor or trellis, but I can imagine a lovely shady bower like the one Sharon Lovejoy describes in her book, Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots.

“All summer long,
We hid and played
In the sunflower house’s dappled shade.
A roof of morning glory vines
Twisted, tangled, intertwined.
And close beside us, rustling leaves
Had conversations with the breeze.”
     — Sharon Lovejoy

And since morning glories remind me of one of my favorite breakfast treats, I will copy for you this Morning Glory Muffin recipe from Whole Foods (http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipes/recipe.php?recipeId=1470):

Makes 16

Whole wheat pastry flour combines with apples, raisins, carrots, coconut and walnuts in these nutritious and satisfying muffins.

Ingredients

1 1/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed natural brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Fuji apple, cored, peeled and diced
1/2 cup seedless raisins
1/2 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dried flaked unsweetened coconut, divided

Method

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; break up any brown sugar lumps with your fingers or a wooden spoon.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, oil and vanilla, then add to flour mixture and stir just until combined. Add apples, raisins, carrots, walnuts and 1/4 cup of the coconut and stir gently until well combined.

Spoon batter into 16 paper-lined muffin tins, filling each about 2/3 full. Top evenly with remaining 4 teaspoons coconut and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until cooked through.

Nutrition

Per serving (1 muffin/about 2oz/55g-wt.): 200 calories (110 from fat), 12g total fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 25mg cholesterol, 170mg sodium, 21g total carbohydrate (2g dietary fiber, 14g sugar), 3g protein