Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Horsetail Falls

via now that's nifty

Each year in mid to late February, as the sun is sinking low in the sky, the often overlooked, ephemeral Horsetail Falls, contained within Yosemite National Park, becomes a spectacular phenomenon.
On clear evenings, the tumbling water, backlit by the setting sun,
 glows golden and fiery like molten lava.

via Michael Frye

I heard a story on National Public Radio yesterday about this incredible occurrence.
It only happens for about one week during the month of February and only on nights where there is no cloud cover.  In the interview, Michael Frye, author of The Photographer's Guide to Yosemite, said that getting a good photograph of the lava falls is quite an endeavor.  He has to position himself in only one of three spots where the play of light on the water is visible, he sets up the camera with a telephoto lens on the tripod... and then he waits.  Sometimes the sun becomes obscured by clouds at the last minute, and the photo opportunity is lost.  Other times, there is cloud cover most of the day, and at the last second a beam of light shines like a beacon beneath the clouds.  Mr. Frye said getting a good photo is a challenge and an accomplishment.  But the real blessing, however, is in witnessing the falls as its glowing waters cascade down the east face of El Capitain.  

via Michael Frye
The way I see it, the peak moments in life are rarities.  They are not always predictable, nor are they sustainable.  Full presence of mind, an awareness of truly being in that moment is required.  These moments wash over us like a waterfall, splashing us from head to toe, and we are bathed in the beauty.

Until next time...

Monday, February 20, 2012

A room with a view

  "Life is a race I never want to win; I'd rather stroll around enjoying the scenery."

~Aditya Chandra

via journal de la maison

Whether sweeping views of the sea,

via art-decoration

or of a lovingly tended garden,

via journal de la maison

or a charming view of rooftops,

via art-decoration

a room with windows saluting the earth and sky is one where I feel most serene.

via art-decoration

Dreams need air to breathe, and my thoughts need air to take flight.

via campagne decoration

In rooms like these, I would feel most inspired.

What spaces inspire you the most?

Until next time...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday (finally)!

via Pinterest

Some weeks are just brutal.
I struggle to make it through to Friday,
and when it finally arrives, 
I feel victorious,
as if I have accomplished some monumental task.
At that point, I can breathe again and not feel the weight
of the world pressing down on my shoulders.
Fortunately, my weekend begins on Thursday night,
so most Fridays are a true day off.  
Do you ever have weeks like that, 
where you have to tell yourself to just hold on a little
bit longer, Friday is on its way?
Well, we finally made it!  
The weekend is here.
Wishing you moments of calm over the next couple of days
Remember to embrace the three R's as your weekend progresses-- rest, relaxation and rejuvenation!
And if you are so inclined, there is a fourth R,
which I heartily recommend:  
a good red wine!

Until next time...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

Wishing the sweetest of days to you
on this day to honor the loves in our lives.

Image credits:  1) via J'eanne D'arc Living; 2) me; 3)  me; 4) via Atlanta Bartlett; 5) unknown; 6) Atlanta Bartlett

Until next time...

Friday, February 10, 2012

On love and roses

 With the approach of Valentine's Day, the color pink is on my mind.  
 It is, of course, associated with love and romance.   
New feelings of love blossom visibly with a rosy glow upon the cheeks.  
We blush when meeting the longing gaze of our beloved.  
Our bodies are flushed with the afterglow of lovemaking.

via Victoria

It is no coincidence that the French word for pink is rose or  that pink is the color of newfound love.
In the language of flowers, pink roses symbolize perfect happiness.
In my experience, there is no feeling more blissful than the euphoria of falling in love.

via Flickr

Roses are the essence of sensuality, with an intoxicating fragrance, a voluptuous form, and the luscious delicacy of individual petals.
Secrets lay hidden within their layers, and parting the petals or stripping them off one by one,
reveals the truths of their beauty.
The soul of a rose reverberates to its core.
There is certainly beauty on the outside, but roses, like anything worth loving, are just as magical when all the exterior finery has been torn away, when petals lay strewn across the floor,
when it becomes brittle with dessication and age.
They are gorgeous on every level and at every stage of being.

via Campagne Decoration

Roses are often used as a poetic device to convey loving sentiments.  
Lying a beloved down upon a bed of roses, as promised by Christopher Marlowe, 
"And I will make thee beds of roses and a thousand fragrant posies..." 
speaks of the tenderness and renewal of love's promise.   

Modern writers still call upon the symbolism of roses to convey the depth of feeling and nuances 
of a complex love:
"If I say your voice is an amber waterfall in which I yearn to burn each day, if you eat my mouth like a mystical rose with powers of healing and damnation, if I confess that your body is the civilization I long to experience... would it mean we are close to knowing something about love?"
~ Aberjhani, Collected Visions of a Skykark Dressed in Black

via Restoration Hardware

Rosy hues flatter most skin tones, giving us all a youthful, healthy glow.
Rose water, attar of roses, and rose oil have been prized for centuries 
for the health benefits to our skin, hair, and rose petals have use as a flavoring in the kitchen.  
Do you remember the quails in rose petal sauce from the book by Laura Esquivel 
Like Water for Chocolate? 
So sexy!

via Campagne Decoration 
Shades of red are known to stimulate the appetite, and thus many restaurants use red in their decor to help their customers feel the hunger.  
My guess is that shades of pink stimulate  our other appetites as well. 

via Campagne Decoration
Rosy shades are complimented by greens, a most natural pairing, 
and one that speaks of spring, renewal and freshness.  
In February, when the gray days of winter can wear on the spirit, 
shades of pink hint at the coming of spring 
and the promise of roses. 

via Campagne Decoration

The palest pinks are the ones I am most drawn to.  
They contain just a hint, a whisper, a blush,  of rosy undertones.  
As an introrvert, subtlety is what appeals to my senses.  I have never been one for the loud or the brash or the vibrant, all of which feel like an assault to me. 
I prefer quiet and calm in all things.
Make no mistake that this approach to living is lacking in passion!
A slow, smoky passion burns longer and produces coals, which retain more heat,
than a blazing fire. That flash of heat and light is over quickly.
Red roses are said to symbolize passionate love, but I will take the pink.
Over time, the crimson fades, and I find their scent to be less captivating.

Wishing you a sensuous season filled with love and roses.
Until next time...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Meet Pyewacket

In November, we lost one of our long-time feline friends here at our tiny cottage and gained a new one.  Meet Pyewacket.  She is a pure-bred Persian kitten whom I acquired from Craigslist (for free!).  Her prior owner had received her as a gift, and the owner's other cat refused to accept this little creature.  She needed a new home, and I needed a distraction to help me with my grief.  In reality, we rescued each other.  

We named her Pyewacket, after a Siamese cat in the 1958 movie starring James Stewart and Kim Novak, Bell, Book and Candle.  

via Columbia Pictures

via Ghosts of Britain
In the movie, Kim Novak plays a witch, and her Pyewacket is her familiar.  Jimmy Stewart plays the ordinary man who falls for Kim despite her witchy ways.  It is an adorable movie and quite stylish for the time period.   

via fanpop

James Stewart's character balks, bumbles and stumbles in typical James Stewart fashion. 

Our kitty is obviously not a siamese.  At nine months old, Pye weighs just 4 1/2 pounds.  She is all fur!  Pye is the happiest cat I have ever known.  She leaps up onto the bed with delight when she realizes I am awake each morning.

Her face is incredibly flat, which unfortunately, causes some breathing problems.  The standard for this breed has become more and more flat-faced.  I would never pay money to support an industry that knowingly breeds problems into animals just to achieve an arbitrary standard of beauty.   

She has brought such joy to my heart.  Despite the intense upkeep of that heavy undercoat, I wouldn't trade her for the world.  When I took her to the vet a couple of weeks ago to be spayed, I had been overwhelmed by the care required to keep her coat smooth and tangle-free.  In my efforts to cut out some mats under her arms, I had unknowingly cut her.   The vet found the injury and stitched it up.  I was mortified that I had hurt her and didn't even know about it.  That really shows how easy going she is-- she didn't even complain.  The vet technician had shaved off the mats on her belly and showed me the proper grooming tools to use.  Now I have a handle on her fur.  Despite the intense upkeep of that heavy undercoat, I wouldn't trade her for the world.

If any of you also own Persian cats, please share any tips you have for grooming and maintenance of their downy fur.

Until next time...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Sweet Savannah

When traveling, there is an opportunity to both go beyond myself, by opening up to the unfamiliar, and to get more deeply in touch with myself, by honoring my senses, interests and desires.  Each new sight or sound or taste yields a vehicle for discovery, bringing me closer to the things that resonate for me, things I would like to include in my daily life.  In this way, I come home with more than just photographs.  

In late December, my love and I traveled to one of the most romantic U.S. cities-- Savannah, Georgia.  
This was our second trip to Savannah, and on the first day, as we wandered through its many squares, beneath the canopy of live oaks draped with wispy Spanish moss, it felt to me like coming home.

Savannah is an old city by U.S. standards, having been founded by the British in 1740 as a way to protect the city of Charleston to the north from the Spanish colony in Florida to the south.  It is sited at the mouth of the Savannah River, not far from where the river flows out to the Atlantic Ocean.

The oldest parts of Savannah surround a grid of 24 public squares, spaced 2 blocks apart.  The squares are bordered by grand private residences and public buildings, like churches and government offices.  Several of the residences are available for touring.  We went through 4 of them and also took a walking architecture tour.     I have an abiding love for old structures, for old trees, and for history.  Savannah is the perfect place to satisfy these interests.

Many of the squares have monuments to Revolutionary War heroes, like Kashmir Pulaski.

Some of the churches surrounding the squares are small and quaint.

Others are massive, extending spires up to the heavens.

Horse-drawn carriages abound.

The red brick building below is one of many belonging to the Savannah College of Art and Design.  SCAD was founded in 1979 and gave momentum to the historic preservation movement.  The college bought up many of the old buildings and renovated them.

All of the squares have paved walkways that flow straight from the street through their center.

And circle the perimeter.

 The oldest (and, believe it or not, more humble) houses are quite close together and perch almost atop the sidewalk.  

This fountain at Forsyth Park is a famous Savannah Site.  It was decked with red bows for the holidays.  Sprays of water glimmer in the abundant sunlight.  I was moved by the arching branches of the oaks and how beautifully they frame the fountain as we approached it.

Opulent porches grace Victorian era homes and were often added to Colonial architecture during that time, when ornamentation was desired over simplicity.

In the Historic District, this is just an ordinary street.

Metalwork is ubiquitous in Savannah, in both garden structures and on buildings.

A peek inside a private garden yields a sense of the tropical.  We were told by the locals that summers are unbearably hot and humid,  and winters are obviously mild, so it is no wonder tropical plants thrive here.

This is a city I would not hesitate to move to.  Besides the squares, the architecture, the climate, and the friendly people; other benefits include wonderful restaurants, proximity to the ocean, a thriving art community, walkability, the value that is placed on historic preservation, charm, and grace.   I felt safe and comfortable as we roamed the streets and drove through neighborhoods outside the Historic District.  As someone who loves living in the country just outside a small university community, this is saying a lot! 

And so in my travels, I have come to learn that there are some other places that beckon.  I had previously not felt the pull to move to anywhere that was considered urban or more populous that 100,000 residents.  But here I am declaring, as so many others have before me, that Savannah has me by the heart.  
And how sweet it is.

Until next time...


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