lake ontario

Seems all I'm doing these days is documenting winter. Lake Ontario was roiled up the other day. What ice there had been was now melted—almost 40° F here—and all there was now was this: gray sky, brownish-gray water, and a lighthouse for non-existent boats. I very much like the horizon line and its echo in the sky.


morning sky

After yesterday's dreariness, this is what I woke up to today. The upper clouds predict the darkness for the rest of the day, but the bright yellow rays shone into the bedroom with an intensity that is rare here in winter. . . and also difficult to display.

The sky has always been a strong inspiration for artists. It speaks to the immensity of the world and the constant changes all around and the difficulty of holding on to anything without altering it somehow. These few minutes after photographing this sky, it now lacks its earlier drama; colorlessness masks its potential excitement.


winter hill

It is raining today and about 39 degrees F: classic definition of a dreary day in Upstate New York. I see this hill often when I drive to do errands. Today, its greenness is a good contrast to the grey of the sky and the road and the messy snow left from last week. A friend showed me this hill; he uses it as a measure of changing seasons and of the mystery of the earth. What is it, really? A bit of a drumlin? A mound hiding burials? Probably nothing more than what we see: a pile of earth. Just earth.


christmas lump

Lumpy, the Cat, was gracious enough to model his Santa hat in front of the nine-foot Christmas tree. Yup, nine feet. Hard to see, but it's all there. However, you can see how happy Lumpy is about the tree. And the hat.
Peace to all.


lake michigan and chicago river

There was a time when the Chicago River did what all rivers do when confronted with a downhill run and a large body of water at the end of that run: it flowed east into Lake Michigan. Then, as the city grew with people, railroads, more people, more freight—both rail and ship—more people, manufacturing, retail, people, the river became the premier sewer of the region, moving all its waste into Lake MIchigan. Oh, my! Polluting the lake! What do we do?!?! Reverse the flow of the river, of course, to move the stuff somewhere else. Here is a concise history of the river from the Encyclopedia of Chicago. And here is a USGS map of the river system today.

Ah, what we do to clean up our messes, eh?

The Chicago Harbor Lighthouse was first built in 1893 at the mouth of the Chicago River. In 1917, after the Navy Pier was built, it was moved out here at the end of the breakwater in the harbor.


glass fabric

On the Navy Pier in Chicago is a museum of stained glass. To walk through the pier is to walk through the museum; it is unavoidable. And that is a very good thing. The windows are amazing pieces, many from buildings that no longer stand in Chicago, and some from other places in the country.
One that I particularly liked is The Hollywood Angel, from a cemetery in Hollywood, CA, (um, yeah):

She looks very stern, eh? Like, "You think you're going WHERE?!"

Anyway, look at the feathers on her wing:

That's folded glass.
And look at this, her gown:

Glass layered to look like fabric. And then there's the "embroidered" edge; lead and glass that our eye knows is really a ribbon of some sort sewn on.


the power of the washing machine

The winter issue of CRAFT Magazine has a simple pattern for felted slippers. I needed a new pair of winter slippers, so I thought, "Wow! I can use up some of my yarn stash!" So, I set to work. This is what the end of the first step looked like:

Then came the sewing together of the long scarf-like thing. Putting this together involved labeling the sides of the squares, folding two of them on their diagonals, then sewing them together. Notice how LARGE this is.

And then comes the Magic Machine. I washed the slippers for 26 minutes in hot water, rinsed, spun, and air-dried the things. Now look at their size. They fit my feet perfectly.

I put sheepskin insoles inside for cushioning and suede soles on the outside to keep from slipping all over the floor. Yeah, I know, they're called "slippers," but I do not like to end up at the bottom of the stairs too quickly.


white sky winter

Winter in upstate New York is bleak. Yes, occasionally there are sunny, bright, delightful days. But more often are days like this one: a "White-Sky Day." Say that to anyone who has lived up here, and they understand completely what this means. There is no precipitation, the ceiling is low, the clouds continuous and grey. Dreary.

That said, on days like this, when there are no shadows, the details of the landscape are stark. As a friend noted, the trees on the hillside across the lake in this image look like hairs on a thinning scalp. I saw it as thread painting: black and rust on white. Makes one wonder, eh? If two good friends can't see the same thing right away, then how are hostile nations ever even going to take the opportunity to tell each other what they see, compare notes, and then exclaim  "Oh! I never thought of it that way! Wow!" Sheesh.



The other day, I went out to the lakeshore to eat lunch. It was cold, so I sat in the car, as several other people were doing in theirs. The seagulls have gotten so smart that they know when we are eating IN our cars and so they sit on the hood and look in through the windshield, screeching when we don't pay attention to them. When it becomes obvious that we are not going to feed them, they fly away to harass some newcomer to the parking lot.

I manipulated the photo I had taken of my personal harassing gull, and this is one result. I now have Photoshop Elements, which has many cool tools to play with. Some of the most simple stuff I haven't yet figured out (like how to put a simple black border around the picture), but turning an image into a negative with some interesting background color, I have been able to do. This would make a nice template for a linoleum block print someday, I'm thinking.


new gang of creatures

Twigby and Joey are in the middle; I don't remember the names of those on the outside. Those are stupid sweater creatures. Twigby and Joey are true stupid sock creatures. I think they all may be looking for homes.