31 August, 2012

I Go Swimming

The Spree River in Berlin, Germany, is too polluted to swim in.
Unfortunate, really.
So, how to cool hundreds of summer-warmed Berliners?
By turning an old barge into a pool, of course!
The Badeschiff (German for "bathing ship") is a floating pool located within the river itself.
In winter, it becomes a sauna and a steam bath.
Super brilliant.


30 August, 2012

Don't Call It a Comeback

{image via}
By now, I'm sure you've heard all about the can of whoop ass LL Cool J opened on a burglar who had broken into his home.
Which I, personally, find to be pretty darn cool.
I mean, seriously, who in their right mind's gonna mess with the guy whose own mama told him to knock you out?
Speaking of which...
I'm "hanging" with Nephews One and Two one afternoon. Nephew One is being deliberately annoying.
Nephew Two is following his example.
Frustrated, I tell them "Your mama just called. She said to knock you out."
I chuckle at myself, and continue to sing the song for the rest of the day.
Nephew One wants to know what that song is (he inherited his Aunt's love of music, the lucky kid).
Foolishly, or perhaps in a flash of pure genius, I play it for him.
Both Nephews go Absolutely. Ape.
It becomes requested every time we get in my car. Suddenly, it's all Club Honda Element whenever we come up your street: Aunt Heather at the wheel, playing DJ, and two little boys in the backseat, busting moves you would not believe possible from the confines of a carseat.
Nephew One wants to know who sings it.
His variations on a name have included "LL Cool Guy", "LL Good Guy", and "Mr. Cool J".
But mostly he gets it right.
Lyrics, however...
LL had a nine that was easy to load. Nephew One, a lime.
"Rockin' my peers"? It's now "Walkin in my pants".
And my favorite: "when I got my jammies in my hand/man!/ooohhhh".
It seems he was also rapping about "destruction, terror, and mayhem" at dinner one night.
My bad.
Nephew Two's limited one year old vocabulary has him sticking pretty much to the "out"s in the chorus.
But boy, can that kid dance.
I've recently been sneaking "Goin' Back To Cali" into the mix.
Nephew One's already got the delivery of the chorus down perfectly.
Ladies, it appears, are not the only ones who love Cool James.
I know a couple of little boys who feel the same.

28 August, 2012

Ghost in the Machine

When I was in high school, I had a cassette-tape version of The Cure's Disintegration that I played to death.
I played that tape over and over again so many times that it was, quite literally, in the very state of disintegration that the name printed on its side suggested.
When I finally upgraded to a cd version, I kept the cassette.
It seemed almost poetic, a work of art.
(Dude. I was in high school.)
It is quite possibly still in the bottom of a box around here somewhere, along with a sizable stack of ticket stubs from Cure concerts going back as far as the Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me tour. They're the only stubs missing from my collection, and I'd love to know where they wound up.
But anyway. Back to the tape.
I was reminded of it recently when I happened upon the genius work of Erika Iris Simmons and her collection of cassette-tape art she calls "Ghost in the Machine ".
The collection consists of portraits that the Orlando-based artist creates from thrifted cassette tapes, depicting the bands and singers once held inside.

Mind-blowingly awesome.

23 August, 2012

Down Under

For anyone who ever dreamed of having an indoor pool, check this out:
Argentinian artist Leandro Erlich has created an installation at the 21st Century Museum of Art in Kanazawa, Japan that gives visitors the experience of being in a pool without actually being in a pool.
Erlich built a room that simulates the inside of a below ground pool, right down to the blue painted walls and aluminum ladder.
Above, a skylight of sorts holds the few inches of water needed to create the dancing shadows and reflections that complete the underwater experience.

How cool is that?

22 August, 2012

She's Crafty

The vein of craftiness runs deep in my family.
My sister, despite the fact that she understands numbers and science, has a natural ability to put together color and pattern.
She might get it from our mom, who once taught people how to do stained glass. You know, 'cause she was good at it.
Or, she quite possibly got it from our dad, whose wood shop tinkerings have produced a sandbox, a big old shed, and a new kitchen, including cabinets to fit the crooked walls of a 150 year old farmhouse.
My Grandmom Tina, my mom's mom, always said my talent came from her. I once saw her draw a horse. It wasn't too bad.
But I'm pretty sure I got it from my other Grandmom, Grandmom Vroom Vroom (named so because my Grandfather had a motorcycle, and it went "Vroom! Vroom!").

Just look what she could do with a few old beer cans and a crochet hook!
Not only did Grandmom Vroom Vroom have talent,
she clearly impacted my earliest sense of style, as evidenced above.
So drink up, kids.
Winter's right around the corner.
And I know you're all gonna want to be rockin' a beer can hat when the snow starts to fall.

20 August, 2012

The Love Cats

I recently waxed poetic on my love of collage.
I also have a deep fondness for simple household things, like plants and cats.
To which I am allergic.
(Cats. Not plants.)
Fortunately for me, and, of course, for you all, too, Chicago artist Stephen Eichhorn has combined these last two in a series of delightfully amusing collaged images.

All the furry fun, none of the allergies.
Hope this starts your week with a smile.

17 August, 2012

Happy Weekend

Hooray huzzah, Dear Readers,
it's the weekend!
And the weather here is supposed to be absolutely glorious!
In fact, after today, the weather for the foreseeable future has a decidedly glorious lean.
The air conditioner is already switched to off,
and there's a bit less humidity in each breeze that blows through the open windows.
I plan on following that breeze right on out the back door and sneaking in a few more chapters of the book I've been reading all summer.
Maybe even a nap, too.

16 August, 2012

She's So High

I have a terrible fear of heights.
In San Francisco, buckling knees and a white-knuckled death grip on the railing had me backtracking my way off the Golden Gate Bridge at as accelerated a snail's pace as my terrified body could move. My family still hasn't forgiven me. And we were only three steps into our journey across (read: still on solid ground).
A trip to Paris had me admiring the iron framework of the Eiffel Tower from the safety of the ground, while the rest of the world climbed up (in the ricketiest elevator ever) to enjoy the magnificent views from above.
My stomach drops at the mere mention of Chicago's Skydeck.
And, now I'm pretty sure I'll be having nightmares about this:

The pool at the Holiday Inn Shanghai is not only 24 stories above ground,
hanging off the side of the building balcony-style,
but it has a GLASS BOTTOM!!!
It must be like being suspended in free-fall, in water, high above busy city streets.
Think I'll keep sticking to a more traditional style swim.
At ground level.

15 August, 2012

You Say Tomato

A hot, lazy morning, sitting in the backyard with Nephew 1.
Having deep conversations, the sort of which you can only have with three year old boys.
A suggestion, can't remember whose, his or mine, to rid the garden of some of the tomatoes that are starting to overrun it.

Tomatoes so big we need to use two hands to carry them.
A colander, filled to overflowing with tiny cherry tomatoes.
He scolds me when I neglect to pull the stems off, telling me I "need to peel them", as he reaches in and removes the offending tops himself.
We throw the bad ones to the squirrels.
The rest we bring inside, washing them, sneaking a few into our mouths for a snack.
Mixing them with olive oil and fresh basil for lunch.
Hardly making a dent in our harvest.

Savoring the too-quick summer.

14 August, 2012

Plastic Passion

Paper or plastic.
It's a question posed to each of us, with the obvious, environmentally sound answer being paper.
Or neither, an answer more and more of us give while pulling out our own reusable bags.

But that is not the case for Khalil Chishtee.
The California-based, Pakistani artist has chosen the plastic bag as an unlikely medium for his art.
What we so often see as trash (or something used to hold our trash), Chishtee sees as treasure, sculpting and transforming his bags into haunting, beautiful figures.

Beauty, always, is where you least expect it.

13 August, 2012

My Back Pages

I've never been able to draw particularly well, or paint a picture, but I've been known to piece together a pretty mean collage.
But that big boot I made in high school, the boot shaped from dozens of pictures of shoes, it doesn't even begin to hold a candle to the collages of Nathalie Boutté.
Hell, the boot couldn't even light the match for the proverbial candle's flame.

The self-taught French artist uses recycled maps, old encyclopedias, tissue and colored papers to create beautiful, ethereal paper images.
The papers are cut into long strips before being layered into a collage, giving the works an added element of texture and movement.


Hope your week is a cut above.

09 August, 2012

I Walk, Er, Swim The Line

The pool at the Cal Neva Resort in Lake Tahoe is pretty much like any other pool at any other resort.
It has water, room to swim, a lovely space to lounge in the sun surrounding it.
But it does have one little thing that sets it light years apart from other pools at other resorts:
the California/Nevada state line runs right down the middle.

Talk about making a splash.

08 August, 2012

Roll It, Pat It

For the past year, I have been swearing up and down that I was going to make pita bread.
A whole year.
I would say it, and think about it, and never do it.
It seemed daunting.
It has pockets, for flip's sake!!!
A loaf of bread, no problem. But bread with a pocket?
Not gonna happen.
Until it did.
A friend of mine made it and swore it was super easy.
He was right.
I've been making it all summer.
I've even got my young apprentice trained.
(He rolls surprisingly round circles for a three year old.)

So easy a kid could do it.
Who knew?

07 August, 2012

Dolla Dolla Bills

During his lifetime, Vincent van Gogh never made a cent for his artwork.
With that thought in mind, I bring you today the second in an unintentional two-part series on money as art.
Yesterday was change (Jacqueline Lou Skaggs' painted pennies).
Today, cold, hard, paper cash.
When it comes to dollar bills, I have to assume you are like me, folding your money in half, sometimes in half again.
Shoving it into pockets, wallets, and bags, without much in the way of care.
I have to assume all of this because the evidence is rather plain:
creases, wrinkles, and torn corners cover the green sheets in my wallet.
But not so with Japanese artist Hasegawa Yosuke.
When it comes to folding his cash, Yosuke takes great care, folding and bending the bills around the portrait at its center.
His money origami is cheeky. And largely brilliant.


06 August, 2012

Pretty as a Penny

The humble penny.
Throw away currency, by today's standards.
They can be found laying scattered on sidewalks and streets, tarnished copper distinguishing them from the trash and collected debris.
Head's up, pick it up.
Collect them on shelves, in dishes and jars.
A stack of twenty five equals a single quarter.
A pile of five hundred, a five dollar bill.
You can't get very far on penny power.
But artist Jacqueline Lou Skaggs sees things differently.
Where we see the raised smoothness of Abraham Lincoln's profile, and the rough, textured ridges of the monument in his name, Skaggs sees a blank canvas.
Her series Tondi Observations is a collection of twelve tiny paintings, each done on a found penny.


A penny for your thoughts?

03 August, 2012

Happy August

I never intended upon a two-plus week blog-cation.
I had things to share. Clever people who made pretty things. Weekday activities. Shenanigans.
And then, somehow, Mid-July turned into August.
Without so much as a peep.
Blame it on the heat.
Blame it on a broken laptop.
Blame it on the flu-like horror that kept me in a vice grip for too many days.
Blame it on laziness. It's the most likely culprit.
Monday. Monday will be a return to the babelling, the pretty things, and, for sure, a few shenanigans.
Until then, a few things that I managed to busy myself with in the past two-plus weeks:
I re-designed my shop for fall, which will be here all too soon. At least, I've started to.
And since fall means back to school, I've decided to pretty those words up a bit by adding the word "sale" to the end. Enter the code "toocoolforschool" at checkout to take 15% off an entire purchase.
Treat yourselves to a bit of end-of-summer prettiness.
(And get them while you can- the fall show schedule is begining to take shape.
 But more on that later.)
I also joined Twitter. I have no clue what to do with it, but I'll figure it out. You're gonna want to follow me. I'm as deep as a puddle. And occasionally hilarious.
That should hold you over.
Have a Happy Weekend. See you on the other side.