Spring’s Secret Garden

Monarch feeding on a Butterfly Bush.

The Secret Garden was one of the classics I read to my children. We spent many hours in the car driving to Maryland and Long Island to visit family (hon, trust me, we know every rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike), and made the time pass quickly by learning language, discovering stories, discussing characters and predicting plots. I only found out later that “brain imaging has suggested that hearing stories evokes visual images in children’s brains, and more strongly if those children are accustomed to being read to.” (The Merits of Reading Real Books to Your Children  by Perri Klass, M.D.,The New York Times)

Wait! What? Something I did was good for my kids? Woohoo! Hopefully, that balances out the other stuff that might not have been, ummm, as advantageous.

“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”
― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

Glass Tea House, Venice Architecture Biennale

View from the bell tower of the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice.

Another view.

Sign in the bell tower.

Last summer in Venice, my daughter and I discovered something beautiful and peaceful behind the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore. We had taken the vaparetto, or water taxi, to the island of San Giorgio to see the views from the bell tower. We spotted a bright blue rectangle and we were curious. 

The hidden gem turned out to be a teahouse at the museum Le Stanze del Vetro. Japanese artist Hiroshi Sugimoto designed Glass Tea House Mondrian for the Venice Architecture Biennale.

The ‘Glass Tea House Mondrian’ by Japanese artist Hiroshi Sugimoto unites wood, glass and water as a pavilion, holding the traditional japanese tea ceremony within its transparent walls. The temporary structure consists of two main elements: an open-air landscape courtyard and an enclosed glass cube.

The garden follows a path leading along a forty-foot-long reflecting pool completely covered in Bisazza mosaic, guiding the visitor to a lucent space, inside which the cultural ritual is performed. The pavilion hosts two visitors at once, together with the master of the tea ceremony, while the other spectators can take part by watching around the perimeter of the reflecting pool.

Relating to its surrounding environment and the historical context of the site, Sugimoto’s ‘Glass Tea House’ suggests a subtle analogy between the ancient tea ceremony practice and the art of venetian glassmaking.

Glass Tea House Mondrian by Hiroshi Sugimoto.

Click here to read an interview with Sugimoto. Click here to see how the tea house was assembled.

Happy exploring, hon.

Source: Designboom.com

Art Materials in Italy

IMG_0344 (1)In Italy, art is everywhere. I expected to see art in museums and galleries, but I was surprised by the materials. On display, pigments, glass rods, silk cords, paintbrushes, metal, work tables and weaving looms become their own sort of art. They beckon creativity to come out and play.

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Off the Grid in Italy

Morgan and me in Tuscany.

Mom and daughter trip to Tuscany.

Tuscany is Bellissimo!

I haven’t posted in awhile for a very good reason…I was in Italy! I was practically off the grid with unreliable Wifi and no phone plan. My daughter became our navigator with her grasp of Italian and her own data plan. Look forward to lots of pics and posts about Venice, Bologna, Siena and Rome.

I’ve been bitten by the travel bug. Where to next?

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Love In Art, Lovin’ Art

Spray paint cans.

Spray paint cans.

Spray It. Say It.

In a previous post, Steel Pop-Up Books by David Kracov, I visited the Eden Fine Art Gallery in Soho where colorful book sculptures drew me in. Walking further into the gallery, I discovered a room covered in work by Queens-born graffiti artist Hoacs. It was a blast of immersive, colorful collages, concepts and tags. Click here to read an interview with Hoacs where he dishes about No Days Off, his First Solo Exhibit.

Calling all writers! You know how “voice” is a magic word in Kidlit? Click here to hear Hoacs’ distinctive voice. On the website Neighborhood.com he says,” I started doing graffiti in the mid to late 90s. Back then NYC graffiti was on smash, from highways to track spots to street spots, all crushed.”  He’s got voice covered!

I’ve included pics of two more pieces displayed at the gallery. Love in Art.

How true.

Hoacs says he has no days off. Neither do writers.

Surprising work by graffiti artist Hoacs.

Surprising work by graffiti artist Hoacs.

Dorit Levenstein, hand painted aluminum.

Dorit Levenstein, hand painted aluminum.

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Sisterhood of the Traveling Bracelet

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I have a bad habit. I put things down in odd why-would-I-ever-look-there-again places and then promptly forget where I put them. I’ve devised many strategies to overcome this habit. Baking supplies are in a designated “baking section,” my phone is, generally, in the kitchen, and my keys hang on a key hook (genius, right?). But, when I travel, strategies go out the window, and I waste a lot of time looking for misplaced items.

Hon, you know the expression, “you are your own worst critic”? It’s true. I am. Maybe I should give myself a small break. The latest thing I lost was a bracelet. I was wearing it and then I wasn’t. This happened while visiting my mom in a hospice facility in Baltimore. Talk about distracted! I was that, and agitated and sad and many other emotions. But, still!

The bracelet was a birthday gift from a friend. It was made in Mexico, sold in New Jersey, traveled back to Mexico, returned to New Jersey and then lost in Baltimore. The bracelet was initially too small, but the artisan made me a really nice offer! He said he was visiting family in Mexico and would take it with him, add a couple of links, and then bring it back to New Jersey. He did, and then I lost it!

In Baltimore, I dug through my bags, re-traced my steps, left my name and number at the places I’d been, and then had a thought. To keep the environment sterile, I had to wear a gown while at the hospice facility. Maybe the bracelet had gotten caught on the cuff of the gown? Maybe it was in the garbage?

I called the facility and, when I visited my mom again, searched for the bracelet to no avail. I was annoyed with myself! When did it fall off? Why hadn’t I noticed earlier? Where could it be? I even considered ordering another one but didn’t want to ask for another bracelet to take another trip.

A few weeks later, while emptying a knitting bag, guess what fell out. My bracelet! I couldn’t believe it! Yay!

Either it fell off and into the bag without my realizing it OR is it possible I took it off before gowning up? And if I did, why-oh-why would I drop it in the bottom of a knitting bag and not put it somewhere I might remember? Oh yeah, I know why…because I have a bad habit!

I’d love to hear your lost-and-found stories!

Related Post: Losing things may be genetic. Click Found In a Fishing Boot to another lost-and-found story.

Shout out to Lucy who lent me her tail for the photo. (“Woof!”)

 

 

Top Ten Cool Elephant Seal Facts

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When Hubby and I went to California in October, we stopped at Elephant Seal Beach in Big Sur and saw these fascinating sea mammals.  I could have watched them all day! If you want to read why I Turned Into an Elephant Seal click hereI hope you enjoy the slideshow of my photos, along with…

Top Ten Cool Elephant Seal Facts

  1. Types: There are two types of elephant seals:  Northern seals are found in California and Baja California; Southern seals populate the waters of Antarctica.
  2. In the Sea: Seals spend months at sea diving deep to forage. Southern elephant seals can dive over 4,921 feet (1,500 meters) deep and can hold their breath for over two hours, which is the longest of any water-based mammal.
  3. Food:  Seals hunt for squid, eels, octopus, small sharks, rays and bottom dwelling fish.
  4. Lifespan:  Northern seals live an average of 9 years while Southern seals live about 20 to 22 years.
  5. Size:  The largest Southern seals grow up to 20 ft (6 m) and weigh up to 8,800 lbs (4,000 kg).
  6. Noses:  Seals aren’t called “elephants” because of their size. They take their name from their trunklike inflatable snouts. The seals we saw on Elephant Beach were young males whose snouts hadn’t grown yet.
  7. Staying Warm: To keep warm in freezing cold water, seals not only have thick skin and fur, there is a thick layer of insulating blubber under their skin. Since their skin molts every year, the seals have to find land in order to molt.
  8. Aggression:  Males battle each other for mating dominance.
  9. Alpha Males:  Male seals claim breeding territories and defend them.  They collect huge harems of smaller-sized females–about 40 to 50 females to one male.
  10. Birth:  After an 11-month pregnancy, females give birth to a single pup. In the one month that the pup nurses, mother seal doesn’t eat—mom and pup live off the energy stored in mom’s reserves of blubber.

What did I tell you?  Fascinating! Hon, have you ever seen elephant seals? Have you seen any fully grown with trunk-like snouts? 

Sources: National Geographic, a-z animals

Stunning Short Film–Terror and Resilience

Dome of the Rock, also know as Al-Haram al Sharif, Jerusalem, Israel

Dome of the Rock, also know as Al-Haram al Sharif, Jerusalem, Israel

Arab souk (market), Jerusalem, Israel

Arab souk (market), Jerusalem, Israel

The two times I toured Israel were intense, emotional, amazing experiences. The Dome of the Rock, or Al-Haram al-Sharif, stands head and shoulders above Jerusalem while the Arab market’s sellers, locals and tourists scurry like mice under the watchful eyes of Israeli soldiers.

Although I usually add upbeat lifestyle posts to Bmore Energy , on occasion I add serious ones.

After I viewed Vitals, a 5-minute documentary filmed in Jerusalem, about Hananel David, an Israeli who survived a knife attack, I knew I wanted to share it. The film, directed by friend Jake Oleson, a talented filmmaker whose work I’ve featured before, is stunning.

I hope you’ll watch it.

Wishing you–and our world–peace in 2016.

Naomi

Directed by Jake Oleson, Cinematography by Todd Martin, Produced by Alon Simcha, Animation by Casey Drogin, Original Music by Matthew Kidd, Commissioned by Magen David Adom.

 

I Turned Into An Elephant Seal

Elephant Seals resting in Big Sur.

Elephant Seals resting in Big Sur.

On a recent trip to California, Hubby and I stopped at Elephant Seal Beach in Big Sur where hundreds, if not thousands, of Elephant Seals snoozed. It was an amazing sight! A guide informed us that the beach was covered mainly with young males, who were resting after spending months in the ocean. He said seals swim 24 hours a day and dive to great depths in search of food but, when they stop on the beach, they don’t eat anything at all.  Which brings me to why…

…I turned into an Elephant Seal after Thanksgiving!

You know I love to cook and entertain, and I was thrilled to have all of my kids under one roof,  in addition to my parents and a daughter’s friend. It was wonderful to see sisters, brothers, grandmas, grandpa, nieces, nephews and cousins. I was on adrenaline overload. So, at the end of the holiday, when I collapsed on the couch for an entire day, all I could think was, I am beached like an Elephant Seal! I  could not move. One big difference between me and a seal, however, is that I still ate.

Hon, there was leftover pie.

Isn't this seal adorable?

Isn’t he adorable?

Two snoozers. They scratch themselves with their flippers.

Two snoozers. They scratch themselves with their flippers.

Have you been to Elephant Seal Beach? What month did you go? The Elephant Seal Beach web-site says what the seals are doing on the beach each month. Fascinating!

The Top Ten Coolest Things I Saw In California

Wedding decor handcrafted by the bride.

Wedding decor handcrafted by the bride.

California Dreaming

 I went to California for the weekend.  Hubby and I were guests at our dear friends’ son’s wedding.  It was outdoors.  It was beautiful.  I danced my dessert off.

Before this trip, I had only been to Los Angeles and San Francisco. The wedding was in San Luis Obispo, which is about halfway between LA and SF.  We drove up the coast to Carmel-by-the-Sea. Hon, I’m already (California) dreaming of a trip back to the West Coast.

Here are the Top Ten Coolest Things I saw In California this weekend.  

Driving up the coast with mountains on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other.

Driving up the coast with mountains on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other.

Do you see the tiny line in the mountain? That's the road we drove on. Yikes!

The tiny line carved out of the mountain is the road we drove on.  Yikes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 1. I’m combining these two photos to make up #1. Driving on the edge of mountains–cliffs, really–is a bit harrowing, but pretty cool. Hubby rented a convertible (picture me in an Audrey Hepburn-style scarf) so guess what I did?  Turned around and took pics of the views behind us!

Cows, cows and more cows.

Cows, cows and more cows.

2. Everywhere we drove, cattle were grazing. Cows with calves and steer with horns were wandering over hills, sitting in the shade, and chewing their cud. Moo!

Aoudads on San Simeon

Aoudads on San Simeon

3. These Aoudads, a kind of Barbary sheep, were hanging out on the road to the Hearst Castle. Apparently, William Hearst had a large menagerie back in the day. At one point, he owned 250,000 acres of land and brought all kinds of animals to his ranch.

Woman and cockatiel.

Woman and cockatiel.

 

4. Many marble statues adorn the Hearst Castle. I really liked this one.

Wineries are everywhere.

Tuscany or California?

5. The countryside is dotted with wineries. Vineyards carpet the hills and Mediterranean architecture adds European flavor.  Salute!

West Coast succelents.

West Coast succelents.

6. Hon, you know how I love texture and color?  This garden has both.  I love the contrast between the colors and the grey rocks.  I have no idea what these plants are called, so if you do, would you please let me know and I’ll add the info?

Roman Pool at the Hearst Castle.

Roman Pool at the Hearst Castle.

7. This indoor pool is enchanting. Maybe it was the millions of tiny blue mosaics or the lighting or the smaller pool room, but standing at water’s edge I felt a romance or drama or mystery coming on.

Hummingbird in flight.

Hummingbird in flight.

8. I can’t believe I got this photo. Have you ever tried to photograph a hummingbird? Enough said!

9. What could be cooler than watching young, male Elephant Seals swim, snooze, spar, snort and scratch?  I guess they get itchy, too!

Galerie Rue Royale, artist: Devon,

Artist DeVon featured at Galerie Rue Royale, Carmel-by-the-Sea

10. Energy! Powerful! Superhero! Wow!