Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dream a Little

Good thought for the day:
"dream a little before you think"

     —Toni Morrison

Pierre Bonnard was a great dreamer.  I saw this (dreamy) painting in Grenoble, the year of the quest to find every Bonnard in France.

Image:  Pierre Bonnard, Siesta

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Week of Sun - Seven

It's funny—out of all my pictures from England last summer, this is the only one showing sunlight!  This, in Monk Bar, York, ascending to the Richard III Museum.

But I remember the whole trip as bright.  It was as if the sun was shining the whole time.

image:  Christie B. Cochrell, Steps, York

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Week of Sun - Six

Rainbows are their own pot of gold, leading intrinsically to treasure, revealing and focusing attention on that quick-passing moment of sun within the rain.

Who needs the more tangible gold?

image:  An Alaskan rainbow, Commander John Bortniak, NOAA Corps

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Week of Sun - Five

I love anything backlit, trees and flowers especially. 

I love to break the rules and take pictures into the sun.

I love it when there's sun to take pictures into.

image:  Lamium pupureum backlit by afternoon sunlight, Tim McCormack

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Week of Sun - Four

This picture of the Roman baths reminds me of my visit to Bath—one of the rainiest days I have ever known!  And I'd just left my umbrella on the train.

It was rainy too when we were excavating at Binchester, the Roman fort near Durham that featured well-preserved baths.

image:  The Effects of Sunlight: Roman Baths Originally the baths were covered, however, now they are open to the effects of sunlight, which has caused algae to develop on the water. The effect of the reflections, angle of the sun and algae made for an interesting photograph on this particular day.  Pam Brophy,

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Week of Sun - Three

This is a lovely window I wish were in my house.  

I could think about hanging gauzy fabrics like these down our sliding glass door—or maybe gauzy scarves?  Something to let the light through, and a sense of the outdoors.

I used to love the matchstick blinds in the kitchen of my "treehouse" on Forest Avenue; they had that same organic feel.  (And I was tickled by the way the kitchen—a later addition to the house—slanted forward, so anything I baked was always fatter on one side, and two legs of my dish cupboard had to be lengthened with little squares of wood.)

image:  Sunlight filters through tied-and-indigo-dyed (shibori) fabric, Katie   

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Week of Sun - Two

There seems to be this whole collection of recordings of sunlit moments.  Appropriate in England, or other wet climes longing for light.

A fun site to explore for other reasons, too—  Indoor fun on rainy days!

image:  Sunlight through the branches In the acer glade at Westonbirt Arboretum, Marion Haworth,

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Week of Sun - One

I am so heartily sick of ongoing gray skies and muddy ground that I'm in desperate search of every sunny image I can find!  And I will share.

Enough is too much, as some wise person said.  Enough rain already.

This excerpt from Mary Oliver's poem The Sun expresses my feelings well:
and have you ever felt for anything 
such wild love-- 
do you think there is anywhere, in any language, 
a word billowing enough 
for the pleasure 

that fills you, 
as the sun 
reaches out, 
as it warms you 

as you stand there, 

image:  Morning sunlight, Tidcombe church Sunlight floods through an east window in St Michael's church, which dates from the mid-13th century.  Hugh Chevallier,

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


These flowers have been brightening the gray days.

image:  Christie B. Cochrell, Ranunculus

Monday, March 21, 2011

Rules for a Rainy Day

Rule 2:

Listen to the Labeque sisters playing Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue on two pianos. 
Try reading the liner notes in French.

image:  Rain on grass, adrian benko

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Places I Would Rather Be

If it has to be raining (and it seems that it does), then Venice in the rain beats Palo Alto in the rain.  

I loved this little lion glowering down on the canal outside the Ca d'Oro, with a raindrop heavy on its chin.

image:  Christie B. Cochrell, Raindrop, Venice

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Time Changes - Three

Bar Time

In keeping with universal saloon practice,
the clock here is set 15 minutes ahead
of all the clocks in the outside world.

This makes us a rather advanced group,
doing our drinking in the unknown future,
immune from the cares of the present,
safely harbored a quarter of an hour
beyond the woes of the contemporary scene.

No wonder such thoughtless pleasure derives
from tending the small fire of a cigarette,
from observing this class of whiskey and ice,
the cold rust I am sipping,

or from having an eye on the street outside
when Ordinary Time slouches past in a topcoat,
rain running off the brim of his hat,
the late edition like a flag in his pocket.

—Billy Collins

image:  Orologio di Martinengo, Fedebassa

Friday, March 18, 2011

Time Changes - Two

Among other losses—

           "the earthquake in Japan probably shifted Earth on its axis by about 6.5 inches (16.5cm) and caused the planet to rotate somewhat faster, shortening the length of the day by about 1.8 millionths of a second."

image:  photo perso des Globes de Coronelli prise au Grand Palais le 22 septembre 2005, Clio64

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Time Changes - One

My plan for getting through the time change—

before breakfast:  spicy cardamom coffee
breakfast:  Three Sisters dark chocolate oatmeal
mid-morning snack:  chocolate pecan pie
at lunchtime:  Mayan hot chocolate spiced with chili and cinnamon
mid-afternoon snack:  Kara’s Fleur de Sel cupcake (chocolate with caramel and salt)
dinner:  chicken tamale with Oaxacan mole negro
at bedtime:  hot mulled wine

image:  Clock, Thomas Claveirole

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

And Rain


Some time after the books had been forbidden—
The one about the woman and her daughter,
The one about the boy who spoke poorly—
And after the smoke from the incinerators had cleared,

It was suggested that censorship be extended
To the plover, the wild turkey, and the common moorhen.
But these birds have done nothing, a few protested.
That is precisely the problem, the loudspeakers answered.

It rained that month day and night.
Men with nets fanned out into the fields
And shouted to each other along the shorelines.
Teachers disappeared on the way to their cars.

Then the committee came after the morning glory
For its suggestive furling and unfurling
And the ligustrum and the alstroemeria
Because they were difficult to pronounce and spell.

Then the pine tree for its tricky needles and cones
And parsley and red and yellow peppers for no reason at all.
You would think the lock and the gate
Would be safe, but that was well before whispering,

Shaking hands on the street,
And hooking an arm around someone’s waist
Became the subjects of discussion
Across long granite tables behind dark glass doors.

And the rain was constant and cold—fine days
to curl up with a good book, someone joked—
but there were no more books,
just the curling up of people quietly in corners and doorways,

bits of straw floating down the streets
along the curbs into the turbulent rivers and out to sea.

—Billy Collins

image:  Raindrops on a smoke tree leaf, Kris Miller

Monday, March 14, 2011

Rules for a Rainy Day

Rule 10:

Shop for sausages and peppers.

Make gumbo.

image: Raindrops on a pyracantha leaf, Kris Miller

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Today, as I take a day-long haiku class on campus, I offer some of my favorite Basho haiku.

A cicada shell;
It sang itself
Utterly away.
The sea darkens—
a wild duck’s call
faintly white
spring rain—
down along a wasps’ nest, water
leaking through the roof
at autumn’s end
still with hope for the future
green tangerines
deep-rooted leeks
washed spotlessly white—
how cold!

image:   Christie B. Cochrell, Grasses, York

Thursday, March 10, 2011


My resolve is to remember how grateful I am for sun-struck moments such as this.

And to share the thanksgiving of others.


It grew in the black mud.
It grew under the tiger's orange paws.
Its stems thicker than candles, and as straight.
Its leaves like the feathers of egrets,
but green.

The grains cresting, wanting to burst.
Oh, blood of the tiger.

I don't want you to just sit at the table.
I don't want you just to eat, and be content.
I want you to walk into the fields
Where the water is shining, and the rice has risen.
I want you to stand there,
far from the white tablecloth.
I want you to fill your hands with mud,
like a blessing.

Mary Oliver

image:  Christie B. Cochrell, Bud

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Places I Would Rather Be

In this corner window out of a Bonnard painting.  A lovely summer table open to the outdoors.

Again, the season lures me as much as the locale.  Spring days, with everything ahead and promises on every side, are my absolute favorites, but our spring is being a little temperamental this year.  The wind is chill, the skies are often gray, and there's too much to do to sit and have a leisurely lunch or daydream.  I feel like I'm missing so much, with so much scurrying.

image:  Stilleven A la Bonnard, Dordogne, Photo by sontuin

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

More on Pancakes

Back in childhood, Sundays were pancake days.  We always had some sourdough starter going in the refrigerator, and during his rock music phase in the late 60s (trying to get me interested in popular favorites) my opera-loving Father would shape “Jefferson Airplanes” on the pancake griddle.  Another friend of the family always made rabbit shaped sourdoughs instead.  Both were best eaten with crabapple jelly, the color of light-struck scarlet jewels poured into a glass jar, made by my Mother from the tree in the front yard—the bane of my existence, with its tiny fruit that fell in rotten showers in the autumn months and had to be raked up painstakingly out of the grass.  But now the tree is gone and I feel nostalgic for those long-ago crabapples.

For dinner tonight, in honor of the day, I’ll make Zucchini Pancakes with feta and mint.


images:  Blueberry pancakes + ice cream, Pj's Pancake House, Princeton, NJ, June 2007, Andreas Praefcke 
 Wagon Wheel Orchard, crabapple jelly

Pancake Day

Happy Pancake Day!  Of course you know how you should celebrate . . .

Wikipedia tells us this about Shrove Tuesday, the day for pancakes:
On Pancake Day, pancake races are held in villages and towns across the United Kingdom. The tradition is said to have originated when a housewife from Olney was so busy making pancakes that she forgot the time until she heard the church bells ringing for the service. She raced out of the house to church while still carrying her frying pan and pancake. It remains a relatively common festive tradition in the UK, particularly in England even today, is the pancake race whereby participants race through the streets whilst tossing pancakes into the air, catching them in the pan whilst running.

The tradition of pancake racing had started long before that. The most famous pancake race,[9] at Olney in Buckinghamshire, has been held since 1445. The contestants, traditionally women, carry a frying pan and race to the finishing line while tossing the pancakes as they go. The winner is the first to cross the line having tossed the pancake a certain number of times. Traditionally, when men want to participate, they must dress up as a housewife (usually an apron and a bandanna).

images:  Pancake Race February 2009, and unknown (taped to my file cabinet)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Rules for a Rainy Day

Rule 6:   

Put on your favorite cashmere sweater, and see if you think its color is closest to
· soft powdered Egyptian blue (pigment ground into tree resin)
· the blue robe of a Renaissance saint (lapis lazuli incorporated into viscous oils and honey, wrapped in a cloth and kneaded)
· the blue of a Pompeian fresco excavated from ash (sand and copper, baked)
· partly cloudy Constable blues
· the blue of one of the Auguste Macke watercolors in Tunis—Woman on a Street, maybe, or View of a Mosque without the camels

image:  Gustave Baumann, Rainy Day Promenade
(1917, Color Woodcut)

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Another Wordle "cloud," this the recipe for Red Chicory Risotto with Sage, in appropriate colors.

A delicious dinner, too, for a March Sunday.

image:  Christie B. Cochrell, Wordle, Risotto

Friday, March 4, 2011

Word Art

Have just been introduced to Wordle, and made a "word cloud" out of my thoughts on aqueducts.

Endless amusement for a Friday afternoon, in company with a Ritter Sport dark chocolate bar with marzipan.

image:  Wordle and me, Aqueducts1


Today’s therapy:

brown noise
a Gustave Baumann coloring book
chicken roasted with onions, parsnips, fresh sage and marjoram

image:  Gustave Baumann, Spring, New Mexico

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Self Doubt

Preparing an itemized invoice for Canadian Customs for our upcoming book exhibit (10 ballpoint pens @ .20, 40 exam copy instruction sheets @ .01, 2 business card holders @ .75 . . .), I’m in desperate need of something less mind-numbing.  Even Mozart’s Piano Concerto #27 in B Flat doesn’t much alleviate the tedium and questions about what I'm doing with my life.

Feeling ever so mousily defiant, I take a few minutes from my task to look up those fine admonitory words from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Archaic Torso of Apollo

“for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.”

image:  The Hand of God, Rodin Museum, ematheson84

Wednesday, March 2, 2011