Sunday, February 27, 2011

you, percy bysshe shelley!

Kaye reports, from Wisconsin, that they've had snow on the ground since early November, and sends the season's second set of photos to document the depth on their deck, in front of the barn, and in the woods. Her trees look tired.

I have the gall to reply: "In bloom right here right now: azaleas, camillias, freesias, nasturtiums, sweet peas, tomatoes, violets, pansies, calla lilies, dogbane, african basil, and various succulents." I forgot to mention the sweet alyssum, the strawberries, and four varieties of lavender but will not send an update, as Kaye's response ("No. . . you cannot call that winter!") does not sound receptive though she invites us to visit in April or May.

A trip to the mid west in April would be a great treat. Lilacs, peonies, and tulips are among the spring flowers I miss most, but they will not grow in our temperate climate.

Yesterday's Prairie Home Companion, broadcast from San Diego, poked fun at SoCal's current winter storm. They had "some rain," said Garrison Keillor, noting the sailboats in the bay and the palm trees in the canyons, the natives in their woolens and the tourists in their shorts and sandals.

Personally I think the worst of our winter hasn't happened yet. Our coldest nights often come during the first two weeks of March. On warm days I celebrate fring (the green days that start with our rainy season), but I will not acknowledge the change of seasons until the vernal equinox.

To misquote Shelley's Ode to the West Wind,* "If winter comes, spring can be far behind," as Kaye is undoubtedly thinking.

Meanwhile the ranunculi are sending up blossom stalks with fat buds, and the hyacinths have healthy leaves since I cleared out so many of the Stars of 
Bethlehem that were crowding them. One of last year's hollyhocks is standing about 18" tall, and looking like it wants to send up a blossom stalk.
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*I had forgotten that the poem is a set of five sonnets. When those romantic poets "recollected in tranquility," as Wordsworth prescribed, they brought form to their "strong emotion" and thus made it even stronger.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

collecting thoughts

Beverly and I talked about collections and collecting (among many other topics) at a leisurely Spitfire Grill lunch yesterday. I felt compelled to tell Beverly I'd mentioned her in collection completion compulsion, a blog post from last January.* She was off and running when she heard the word completion. One of the things she likes best about her primary collection -- eyeglasses and related paraphernalia -- is that there's no way to complete it. One of the things she likes least is that there is no association of eyeglass collectors with whom to share her hobby.

The distinction between finite collections, such as the 50 State Quarters, and virtually infinite collections, such as Beverly's eyeglasses and my parrots, reveals more about the personality of the collector than it does about the item being collected. We relish the thrill of the chase and the discovery of finding our special objects in different forms. Beverly proudly showed me a brand new scarf holder (what we called a neckerchief slide in Girl Scouts) in the shape of rhinestone-studded black plastic eyeglass frames. No doubt she will wear it with rhinestone-studded black eyeglass frames and a silk scarf printed with eyeglasses.

Collecting is a habit, though its objects may change over time. Beverly told me she had collected Japanese Kokeshi dolls as a child, and recently enjoyed talking about them with an elderly Japanese woman who had lost her beloved collection when she was interned during World War II. This is the kind of thing I meant by "collecting things, we collect friends," the thought with which I completed my first post on collections, and the line with which I hope to begin my long-awaited poem about collecting and collections..

My compulsion to obtain every faux parrot in the universe has waned, but a couple of months ago I was happy to find a bright red ceramic parrot vase. Being tall but not too slim, it will be wonderful for calla lilies, flowering ginger, or the silver dollar plant I hope to grow this year.

Collections can morph into events. Several years ago my parrot collection spawned a birthday party where I premiered my mock-epic poem, This Thing About Parrots, and I have conducted two Chia Pet festivals in recent years. Last June, Karen declared Cat Jewelry Month and launched it on Facebook. I intended to make August Parrot Jewelry Month but failed to follow through. Maybe this year.

Steve has purchased a 50 State Quarters album for each of our grandchildren, and is filling them with coins pulled out of pocket change. At some point he'll give the albums to the kids, hoping they'll take an interest in completing the collections. Thus a new generation of collectors will probably emerge from antecedents on both sides of our family.

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* Sadly, it turned out that Beverly was not mentioned in my original post about collections. I know I was thinking about her at the time -- as the quintessential collector among my friends -- but somehow the idea of collecting eyeglasses was a bit too complex for a beginning blogger to handle.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

honeysuckle? moi?

You will not see me wearing honeysuckle, 2011's official Color of the Year.

Honeysuckle (the color, not the flower), is a pink with a lot of orange in it, and any pink that I wear must be tinged with blue. The rose and berry pinks are my pinks.

Back in the mid 80's, I had my colors "done." It was a revelation. At that time, I was a member of National Association of Homebased Businesswomen (NAHB). One of our tenets was to do business with each other whenever possible, and so I went to Estelle for a consultation based on Carole Jackson's best-selling Color Me Beautiful.*

Estelle recommended that a friend and a husband accompany each coloree, and so Steve and Sharon -- infinitely patient and good-natured -- joined me. First I was draped with silver fabric, then gold. All agreed that I looked much healthier in the silver. The next choice was between black and navy blue. I looked dead in black, lively in navy. This meant I was a 'summer,' and should stay far away from anything with orange tones. I will not attempt to enumerate the plethora of binary color choices that honed in on my diagnosis as a woman who would always look best in soft colors.

Oddly enough, I had been brought up to believe that I looked good in the bright colors my blonde mother had learned to eschew for herself. Because I didn't sunburn easily, Charlotte figured my skin was dark. I particularly remember a formal she made for me to wear to the Cotillion in 9th grade. It was a heavy silk, with large square plaids of black, gray, and two shades of bright/dark orange. How I envied the girls arrayed in frothy light pink or blue tulle, with white pumps even though it was fall. We may come back to the mother-daughter stories some time. Right now I'm fixated on color. Pun intended.

I have religiously stayed with Estelle's 'summer' palette of clothes and make-up with one exception. 'Concert' black. At first I wore it only for singing or flute-playing events, but since my hair has turned mostly white, I feel that I can get away with black just about any time, especially if I accessorize with my better colors (last night, a splashy print of softer blue, purple, blue-red, and yellow on a black background). Yes, there is such a color as blue-red.

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*This seminal book seems to have come out in 1973, but the 1981 and 1985 editions were the ones that everybody talked about. Unflattering colors were a hallmark of 1970's fashion, now being worn as a 'retro' look, but not by me.
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POSToccupations by Frances Talbott-White is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License