Every once in a while, when we need a little perspective, we check into the Scale of the Universe website, created by Cary and Michael Huang. Move the slider from left to right and back to be reminded where you stand in the scheme of things, and of just what mysteries are out/in here. Here it is in flash.
In the past month, two dear friends from the tiny hamlet of Helvetia in the West Virginia Appalachians passed away. With them goes a great deal of memory and wisdom and beauty. We’re heading down there to pay our respects, and… just be for a while…in Appalachia’s astonishing spring, as we remember their wild, rich, completely original lives.
“Rage, rage at the dying of the light”. Eleanor Mailloux wrote us this fragment of the famous poem by Dylan Thomas when she was diagnosed with a deadly cancer. She didn’t rage, though. At age 94, she opted for no treatment, spent time with her many friends, and made no bones about the fact that she was dying, which, we realize once again, is a process of pure improvisation.
We thought it fitting to post this wondrous video of a walk along all 2200 miles of the Appalachian Trail, that spans from Georgia to Maine. Using stop motion, Kevin Gallagher condensed a six month journey into five minutes. Watch full screen for a mesmerizing and enlivening walk.
We’ll be back on Monday or Tuesday, depending on the state of our hearts.
Video link here.
We find the natural world is a good source of design inspiration…like this Eighty-Eight Butterfly (Diaethria neglecta) from Brazil’s Pantanal with it’s a sensational design of lines and dots.
Take a nature walk at National Geographic’s slideshow of extraordinary butterflies or at Encyclopedia of Life’s butterfly collection.
Cherry, apple blossoms and dogwood will soon be making their appearance, so Spring is a fine time to practice ikebana, the minimalist art of flower arranging that originated in Japan. As with wabi-sabi, although it looks simple, it has complex philosophical, even spiritual underpinnings.
Ikebana” is from the Japanese ikeru (生ける?, “to place, to arrange, life, birth”) and hana (花?, “flower”… It is a time to appreciate things in nature that people often overlook because of their busy lives. One becomes more patient and tolerant of differences, not only in nature, but also in general. Ikebana can inspire one to identify with beauty in all art forms. This is also the time when one feels closeness to nature which provides relaxation for the mind, body, and soul.–Wikipedia (we wish we knew WHO wrote this)
We thought we’d offer a bit of inspiration: Isamu Noguchi ‘s “Lonely Tower” – Shigaraki stoneware with thin ash glaze made in 1952 – with ikebana by Teshigahara Sofu.
…where we admired Noguchi’s perfect studio space: read more…
This week’s New Yorker, with heart-breaking cover by Christoph Niemann also has illuminating (and heartbreaking) coverage about Japan.
“We remembered how to grow fast, and it became Spring.”
–Anne Herbert, Peace and Love and Noticing the Details
We love this alt-flower arrangement spotted in Remodelista’s post about Sitka & Spruce, a restaurant in Seattle: herbs – here, thyme and rosemary – in a little vase. (A pretty glass would do.) This would be especially great in high summer when herbs are abundant, fragrant and often in flower. We found this nice looking set of three bud vases on Amazon.
Related posts: little makeshift vases
Ain’t that the truth!
Today in Europe, some bloggers have declared a day of silence in honor of Japan. We think the opposite, NOT SILENCE; what we need to do is be writing about it. All week long, as we’ve watched the horrific news from Japan, we’ve wondered where even to start. We know now.
We’re going to start with something hopeful to remind ourselves, that even with all the devastation and horror, there is life, and where there is life, there is hope, tiny miracles that remind us of the strength of the human spirit. So we open with this CNN video of an elderly Japanese woman’s escape from the Tsunami on a bicycle.
And then there is how we can help. Many artists have made and donated work to raise money for disaster relief organizations. read more…
We recommend turning off the sound and playing both videos at the same time. We came upon them when we were reading blogs the other morning, and were blown away by this kismet-ish reminder of simultaneity.
Although we’re not crazy about the fussy table setting, we LOVE the flowers put in their vase akimbo, the bunch making it’s own graceful arrangement: the opposite of flower arranging.
Just as we were writing this, we saw a tweet from Behance of ”The most depressing flower arrangement we’ve ever seen (inspired by Dior’s “Midnight Poison” perfume)”…for laughs, it’s here: read more…
This extraordinary video clip is from Ant’s Secret Power, a documentary about the world of ants as seen through the eyes of Bert Hölldobler, ant authority and E.O. Wilson collaborator. Concrete is poured into an giant underground ant megalopolis, which acts as a mold. After the concrete hardened, scientists carefully excavated it to reveal the structure of the ant’s elaborate “city-state”:
“Everything looks like it has been designed by an architect, a single mind, but of course that isn’t true. This colossal and complex city was created by the collective will of the colony, the super organism”.
It’s kind of grown-up reverse ant farm.
Dutch artist Theo Jansen has worked for over 20 years trying to make “new forms of life”, mechanical beasts made of PVC pipe, whose power to move on their own comes from the wind. He calls them Strandbeests.
“The breeze gives it life…I want to put this out into the world where they can live in the future…And they don’t have to eat because they get their energy from the wind…
…What I’ve find about this experience of making new forms of life is that you discover all the problems that the real creator must have had creating this world.”
His words make us wonder if that is what all creative people are doing: making new forms of life, echoing the process of discovery and problem solving that has been in play for eons.
Check out Jansen’s website.
Thanks Holton, Christopher, and others who kept reminding us via email of this amazing guy!
It snowed AGAIN last night in New York City so we thought it fitting to post New York Magazine’ SWELL slideshow and story about the snow fort Steve Burns made in the courtyard of his chic-o apartment in Williamsburg, during the blizzard of a few weeks ago.
Piling the snow took about three hours, digging it out took a bit longer because I did it myself with a shovel and a really big serving spoon. All in all, I’d say about eight hours of work.
We LOVE the iced refreshments… read more…