Archive for the ‘Spring’ Category

Rain…and More Rain.   Leave a comment

Well, I awoke this morning to yet another day of the wet stuff.  I guess it’s to be expected, and I guess it will keep the water table in good shape as far as the well is concerned, but as soon as I see a chipmunk paddling by on a leaf canoe I’m going to start complaining.  And I’m a  bit tired of sitting inside gazing out at the stream of raindrops tap-tap-tapping on the front walk.

Even walking down to the mailbox is a soggy affair.

And traffic and rain….well,…  you know those fancy schmancy windshield wipers the guy at the garage talked you into last time?  Can you say “short lived”?  That’s right neighbor!

But there’s always one way to liven up a dreary day.

Of course!

Invite some swanky friends over, break out the Hires,  throw on some records and…

Party!

“Hires to You”

Put some fun in your day no matter what the weather!

Images courtesy of my beloved 1960 Saturday Evening Post, and a little book I picked up at the flea market, God’s World and Johnny (Westminster Press, Illustrations Mary Royt).

For the Last Day of April   Leave a comment

A poem seems to be in order.

The first for Mr. FreshAir, whose birthday it is, the second to express the fleeting time as April’s breath gives life to May.

How Do I Love Thee?

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, — I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

– Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)

To an Early Daffodil

Thou yellow trumpeter of laggard Spring!
Thou herald of rich Summer’s myriad flowers!
The climbing sun with new recovered powers
Does warm thee into being, through the ring
Of rich, brown earth he woos thee, makes thee fling
Thy green shoots up, inheriting the dowers

Of bending sky and sudden, sweeping showers,
Till ripe and blossoming thou art a thing
To make all nature glad, thou art so gay;

To fill the lonely with a joy untold;
Nodding at every gust of wind to-day,
To-morrow jewelled with raindrops. Always bold

To stand erect, full in the dazzling play
Of April’s sun, for thou hast caught his gold.

-Amy Lowell (1874-1925)

Here’s hoping you’ll enjoy a beautiful weekend.

I’ll be in Chicago, visiting the big Matisse exhibit.   I’ll let you know what I’ve seen upon my return.

Visitor to a Daffodil   Leave a comment

Well, I don’t believe it’s any kind of bee……

And I don’t know what he’s doing in there…..

But I guess if I were small enough to fit  in a daffodil, I’d be tempted to spend a little time in there too!   Not a bad way to wile away a few hours on a Friday….in your daffodil hammock!

Let the weekend begin!

Posted April 23, 2010 by freshairfour in Flowers, Nature, Spring

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Yeah. It Was Worth a Purple Finger.   Leave a comment

Every so often I have a David Byrne moment.  David Byrne as in the Talking Heads.  Specifically David Byrne singing Once in a Lifetime.  You may know the lyrics and even have the vision from the video etched into memory as most people do who listened to radio in the 80’s…….”And you may ask yourself..how did I get here?…..And you may say to yourself…my god what have I done!?!………same as it ever was…..same as it ever was…..”

Well the story starts like this….Mr. FreshAir decided yesterday afternoon that he was tired and in need of a nap. Not being in the napping mood myself, I decided that an inspirational Sunday Spring drive was in order.  You know…..fresh air, pretty farmland, all of God’s creatures frolicking…that sort of thing.  And if all went well, my car’s autopilot would be set to the same antiques store that I subjected Mr. FreshAir to last weekend….except now he wouldn’t have to be subjected to it…..he would be in dreamland!  And I might have a second look at some vintage Better Homes & Gardens magazines which had called out plaintively to me last weekend but had to be left behind in the name of “smart money management”.

All was going well as I cruised along the country roads, the smell of Spring blowing in through my half opened window and the sight of the new dark earth where fields had begun to be plowed filling me with joy.  I flew past old clapboard farmhouses constructed in the early 1800’s, their ancient apple orchards still standing and in the first stages of bloom, fulfilling the same promise of fruit year after year.  Barns of all ages and sizes appeared at every turn and I delighted when a flock of birds took flight from an only partially harvested corn field left over from last Fall.  Around another bend, a beautiful herd of Guernsey cows had been turned out into a pasture that offered fresh new greens for their enjoyment and consumption, and it was plain to see they were doing both….enjoying and consuming!

After about a half hour of Spring scenery I reached the shop that held the objects of my desire.  I got out of my car, stretched my legs and headed for the large heavy double door of what had obviously at one time been some kind of a fairly good- sized warehouse.  Now it held thousands of treasures!  As I opened the weighty door and started to step through, a sign caught my attention.  It said “15% off Sale!”.  Like metal to a magnet, I was staring hard to see what exactly it was that was discounted by 15% . This was one time where being an artist and a very visual person backfired terribly.  I was still glued to the idea of saving 15%, but my hand was still glued to the outer edge of the door as my closing motion, helped along by a sudden gust of wind, closed the door….. with my fingers failing to come inside.  My right middle finger caught the brunt of it and when I was able to regain my senses and pull it to safety, I saw that it had a rather nice dent in it just above the second knuckle.  My eyes were smarting from the pain, but of course I had to look as if nothing had happened in order to save face….so I walked on in and tried to focus my thoughts on the wonders of the shop, while praying that I hadn’t broken anything too terribly important.

One thing that strikes fear into the heart of any artist or craftsperson is the thought of losing either your eyesight or your hands.  As I walked around the shop trying to hone in on those elusive vintage magazines, I watched my middle finger turn ever more purple as the bruising made its way toward my big knuckle.  I was too afraid to try to move the finger….I didn’t want to know the truth just then as to what damage had been done, so I carried on one-handedly in my search.  I looked high and low. I peered in nooks and crannies. I went round and round until I was convinced that they…now by this point they had ceased to be  just magazines they were my magazines… had been whisked off to some other home in my absence.  And then I spotted them.  Back behind a bookcase which I had passed at least twice, they were lying in their little wooden crate….waiting for me.

Now, I believe in the healing power of a lot of things, but I never knew that antiques have this mysterious ability as well. But I swear that the pain in my finger was markedly less the more I rifled through those Better Homes & Gardens.  I decided to try to move the finger.  It moved.  I moved it again. It didn’t fall off.  I said at least 25 “Thank you God!”s  People passed by and probably wondered what in the world I was doing crouched in a corner, kneeling on the ground looking so exulted at finding a pile of old magazines.  But that’s OK.  I had my treasures and my finger, however purple.

I was only able to take home four of my new BH&G buddies (yes, in the name of smart money management), but I promised the others I would come get them as soon as I could.  And the next time I’ll keep my eyes away from any sales signs.  My fingers will thank me.

Due to my throbbing finger, my photo taking was distinctly hampered, but I managed to get one shot of one of the big barns I passed on the way home. It’s not too far from my house and it may end up as a reference photo for a painting…

……after the purple finger disappears!  And yeah.  It was indeed worth it!

Enjoy your day.

A “Put on Your Sweater and Think Cheery Thoughts” Kind of Saturday   Leave a comment

Wow.  I’m going to try to forget that I saw, and in fact, was out walking in sleet this morning.  So much for chirping birds and gentle breezes carrying the sweet scent of hyacinths and apple blossoms!  Ha!  Try Old Man Winter sending ice pellets down your neck instead!  If there was any humor in all of this it would have to be the various ways in which my fellow humans react to such sudden and unwelcome change.  I myself, hate to freeze.  Obviously some of my fellow villagers do not.

I reluctantly pulled my sensible red wool peacoat from the closet this morning and cursed under my breath while I buttoned it and headed out into the elements….luckily I could drive to the grocery store, my grand destination.  Once through the automatic doors and into the warmth of said grocery store, I spied people who obviously had either not (to quote a tired phrase) “gotten the memo” or else refused to believe that they were in fact in Northern Ohio rather than Boca Raton.  Shorts and t-shirts???  Really??? On a 34 degree day with sleet?? I was afraid to look down at their feet for fear of seeing a pair of flip flops.

Maybe that’s just their idea of “living on the edge” (to quote another rather old and annoying phrase)….or an even older slogan..”go with the gusto!”….In this case, I can tell you the “gusto” was probably blowing right up those shorts making for some very rosy…ahemm….. cheeks.  Whether it’s a form of “sticking it to the man”…or woman in this case, as I believe they are dealing with Mother Nature on this particular issue, or whether it is just pure idiocy, I don’t know.   As I said, I don’t find the sensation of freezing my rear end off to be a very pleasant one, no matter how cute my new shorts may be or how trendy my new sandals.  And I can find gusto in a lot of other, more pleasant ways.

After my hunting and gathering was completed at the store, I settled in with a cup of green tea with lemon (yes, still drinking it in case it helps brain cells) and decided to steer my mind away from the weather and target my brain cells in a happier direction.  So I dialed up the Hen-cam at HenCam.com….for a dose of live chicken antics.  Yes, believe it or not, chicken lovers of all kinds can view the daily goings on of a group of chickens at Little Pond Farm near Boston.  They start broadcasting in the morning and stop when the chickens go to bed at night!  Not quite 24/7  Chicken Heaven, but close enough!  My love of chickens is no secret, so this latest use of technology to benefit those of us with poultry fever only fuels the fire for my own flock someday.  In the meantime, it never fails to bring me a smile when I see a large hen’s face peering back at me from the web….er…hen cam.  Terry Golson, who owns the farm and its menagerie of animals is an author and food writer as well, and writes the HenBlog, also on the site.

Alas, since I lack a real flock of my own, I have to be content with pictorial images of poultry.  This particular image fits the bill for both CHEERY and SPRING-LIKE, the cheery part being the robust rooster and the possibility that that drink featured might be my “poison of choice” when I’m out on the town….a manhattan.  I think the Spring-like part is self explanatory…

This is one of my old ads, and unfortunately it was a little too long for my scanner, but I think you get the basic picture.  One interesting thing is that below the large Schenley text in the lower right hand corner, it states “Pre-War Quality”.  Can’t find a date on the ad anywhere, and it’s not attached to its original magazine, but it is apparently from WWII or a little after that.  Whether I’m right on the manhattan being the drink pictured, all I can say is that it looks mighty familiar!  I’ve only had it served in that shape of glass once or twice though….oftentimes it is served in a rocks glass.  Anyway, I digress.  On to the next pleasant non-wintery image…

How about some type of a Spring fairy!   This comes from one of my old Ideals magazines…..this one dated 1962

Ideals is still in publication, but you have to have the older ones to find all the great vintage style illustrations.  My mother and grandmother both read Ideals and I guess I am just carrying on the tradition.  This fairy has obviously been spared from looking at sleet today….lucky her!

And how about a vintage photograph of a child!  Those are always cheerful and bring a smile to a dreary day…. also from 1962…when little girls ran around in smocked dresses.  I should know!

And lastly, from my postcard collection, some apple blossoms….and “Hearty Greetings!” to all of you…..

Here’s hoping you’re not wearing shorts on a day with sleet!

Have a great weekend.

A Good Day to Stay Inside and View Some Vintage Nests!   Leave a comment

Wow!  As nice and warm as it has been over the last week, Mother Nature has suddenly changed her mind and given us a dose of chilly and very damp weather. On such a rainy day it’s such a temptation just to sit curled in a toasty blanket all day, sipping a hot beverage of some sort and gazing out the window.  Alas, for me that was not to be.  With my birthday fast approaching and my Pennsylvania drivers license about to give up the ghost, I was doomed to go a few rounds with the weather in order to change my motorist’s allegiance over to the great state of Ohio.  Knowing that I would have to go to two different locations in the county, one to take the written test and one to get my actual photo license, I prepared by putting on a little extra makeup and donning my winter coat with its hood in an attempt to keep what hairdo I had from going completely downhill.

I learned this scientific equation when I was still a young girl, and no scientist has yet proven me wrong :

Straight hair + rain = even flatter, straighter, droopier hair.

Well, to make a long story short, after 3 hours of running from location to location (Ohio doesn’t make it easy on you like Pa. did!) taking the test, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was indeed now living in Ohio and did not intend to leave, and finally posing for a photo that I can only describe as one that will only see the light of day when a.) I am pulled over by a policeman, which will hopefully never occur, or b.) I am forced to surrender my ID at the airport before going through security.  Yes, it’s that bad.  I’ll spare you the gory details.

Sooo…..On to more pleasant thoughts.  Such as a warm cup of green tea with jasmine.  I need some brain food right about now, and according to most reports green tea helps the brain cells.  If it helps my brain cells not to think of that ghastly license photo, that’ll be good enough for me!  You can’t see how wet and dreary it is out there today by this picture, but you can see some of our daffodils braving the day out in the back yard.  And you can see the cup of tea that is saving my brain cells as we speak!

I have many rooster/chicken mugs and items, but I’ll touch upon those on a different day.  They bring a whole different kind of inspiration!   Today, however seems more like a nesting day.  So I have a few vintage images of nests to share with you.  As you can probably tell, I am a sucker for old illustrations, scrap and all vintage things in general.  Many of the older illustrations, particularly done for the benefit of children’s books, have a softer, quieter quality about them that I really enjoy. I find them very comforting as well as visually beautiful.  Here are a couple of vintage scrap nests…

Love the fact that these little guys below are nested in a lilac bush!  The Victorians loved their lilacs!

Here’s a nest from one of my favorite girlhood books, The Golden Treasury of Natural History.  How I studied that book!  The pages are dog-eared, but the old illustrations still hold magic for me.  Published by Golden Press, it was and still is a treasure trove of mid-century science education illustration.  Here’s the nest…

And here’s the bird….a robin.

Here are a few Victorian postcard images of nests from my own collection, appropriately Spring themed. Love the dainty speckled eggs and the tiny feather that rests on the outside edge of the nest…a great detail.  Also, you can’t go wrong with pussywillows, in my opinion either!  A wonderful, intriguing plant.

And although Easter has passed, this little nest provides a cheery shot of color on this decidedly non-Springlike day….

The sweet illustration below is one by Eloise Wilkin from my own childhood book, A Giant Little Golden Book of Birds. Again, very well loved. I’ll show more of her work as time goes on. Her children were always quite distinctive and express the innocence and wonder of early childhood.  See the image below….

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed these nest images as much as I do.  Here’s a nest shot of my own…just for fun.

Have a great day and remember that sometimes the small things in life…

bring the most joy to living.

A Happy Easter   Leave a comment

There are so many Easter joys….the traditions, family and friends celebrating together, the chance to have the time to reflect upon the meaning of the day, and the freedom to worship as we wish.  Here are a few smalls that I enjoy as well …

A vibrant forsythia bush against a blue Spring sky…

A brand new hyacinth preparing to greet the world, its petals not yet quite unfurled..

A delicate daffodil found growing in the woods….

The ritual and pleasure of taking a batch of fresh white eggs…

And turning them into a rainbow of colors.  A  much loved tradition for both children and adults alike.

A young child’s first Easter egg hunt….

A beautiful Spring bouquet…..

with a sweet chocolate bunny..

Or a few excellent chocolate Easter rabbits, for that matter!

And the freedom to eat the ears first!

Happy Easter to All!