Things That Lose by Being Painted

blue room-sm

Sei Shonagon in The Pillow Book has a short list for Things That Lose by Being Painted: “Pinks, cherry blossoms, yellow roses. Men or women who are praised in romances as being beautiful.”

I was invited to a Beethovan string quartet concert at the surviving A.J. Davis Hudson River villa, the Dr. Oliver Bronson House in Hudson, NY. A.J. Davis was one of America’s greatest architects and the house is fantastic. The bones are all there and it’s being restored, but right now it’s a beautiful place with it’s peeling paint and marvelous hundred year old wall paper.

ancient and modern

These sand sculptures are found at the entrance to the Kamigamo Shinto Shrine in Kyoto. It is said they represent two holy trees that once welcomed spirits to the shrine in the early Hein period (794 to 1185.)

cone 5

Based on these amazing sculptures, modern artist Yuri Kinoshita created an intriguing table top set for making tea.


A beautiful woman

It was hard to find what Sei Shonagon would say about a woman living on a dairy farm in Dutchess County, New York in the 1970’s.


Elizabeth Titcomb Blow
October 4, 1917 – November 7, 2013

This photograph of my mother was taken at Hardstone Farm, where we lived for over twenty years. It was a working dairy farm outside of Rhinebeck, NY. Here she’s in the lower field which flooded every spring. My sister and I love this picture because it shows her vibrantly alive, running in the muck of the fields and she is happy. Just out of sight her dog is chasing after her.

She didn’t shy away from adventure. When I lived in Colorado in the early 70’s (and she must have been in her 50’s), she drove her VW convertible Beetle across the country to visit. It was a long, hard drive and she camped out along the way with three fellow travelers who pitched in for the ride. You could do that in those days. She and I then drove her car down to Santa Fe through the four corners of Monument Valley to New Mexico because I wanted to share this amazing place with her.

She loved it. One night we were on the road to somewhere outside of Santa Fe and got lost. We were way out in the desert. It was summer. The convertible was down. The sky was a black bowl of stars twinkling endlessly. The road stretched straight ahead for miles and miles illuminated brightly by starlight and nothing else. There wasn’t a sign, a gas station, a motel, a city lit up in the distance. Nothing as far we could see.

We  were hopelessly lost, but so completely enveloped by the perfect endless universe –  that all of a sudden it seemed absurd to think we could be anywhere else but at home. We started to laugh and laugh. It was a kind of epiphany. We laughed so hard she couldn’t hold onto the steering wheel and had to stop the car. We didn’t even pull over because as far as we could see the road stretched before us and behind us with nothing in sight.

We were at home in the beautiful, vast universe that seemed to just swallow us up in it’s perfection.

French Parrot tulips for her Memorial

French parrot tulips for her Memorial





Things of elegant beauty

If Sei Shonagon (12th c.) had access to Google,YouTube or Vimeo her lists would have been much longer.

Listed under “Things of elegant beauty” she has these five entries:

-A slim, handsome young gentleman of noble birth wearing court dress
-A bound book of fine paper
-Long stems of sweet flag
-A charming cat with a white tag on her red collar
-A three layer fan

Here’s my addition to her list – 21st c. thanks to Vimeo.

– Moon mirrors mind

Watch this real time video of the moon rising over the Mount Victoria Lookout in Wellington, New Zealand. People had gathered up there this night to get the best view possible of the moon rising.