Sunday, July 12, 2020

California Beauty Contest --- Day 9/90

Walk: Around
Distance: 4 miles, Yoga Stretch

Granville Redmond, Malibu Coast, Spring, @1910,  oil on canvas

Richard Diebenkorn, Cityscape #1, 1963, 60 1/4x 50 1/2", oil on canvas
Which painting do you prefer?  

One of Ciwt's favorite art critics recently wrote of the painting on the bottom "There may be no more beautiful painting of California than this 1963 work by Richard Diebenkorn."*  And, Wow!, that is saying a lot.

Ciwt can certainly see critic's point.  San Francisco native Diebenkorn is one of her favorite artists, Cityscape #1 lives right here at SFMOMA and is a painting she knows well and likes very much.  But all time most beautiful?  

Ciwt's mind goes to Granville Redmond. His paintings would be exceptionally strong candidates for most beautiful Caifornia images. 

Unlike Diebenkorn who was a Bay Area native, Redmond was born in Philadelphia but relocated with his family to San Jose at a very young age.  He was diagnosed as deaf at age three, but this hearing impairment did not stand in the way of his development and career as an artist. An early deaf instructor who gave young  Redmond courses in painting, drawing and pantomime was extremely important in this development and Redmond eventually enrolled at the California School of Design in San Francisco where he excelled. 

He was well liked and befriended by many of his peer artists, including Gottardo Piazzoni and later Charlie Chaplin, both of whom learned sign language in order to make communication with Redmond easier.  Chaplin was such a champion of Redmond that he included him in several of his silent films as well as collecting and promoting his art.

Like Diebenkorn, Redmond eventually settled in Los Angeles with his wife, Carrie Ann Jean, also deaf, and their three children. Again like Diebenkorn, landscape and California were Redmond's true artistic loves  (Cityscape #1 is essentially a landscape).   But for Redmond it was impressionism and gorgeous poppy fields in broad valleys and gently rising California mountain peaks that called to him.

Granville Redmond (1871-1935), Field of Poppies, oil on canvas

After and before Redmond's and Diebenkorn's  there are the paintings by William Keith, Thomas Cole, even Hockney, Thiebaud... The list of talented artists, traditional and modern, who have fixed their eye and brush on California's vast and complex beauty goes on and on.  So it follows there are many entrants to the Most Beautiful Painting of California Contest.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

What We Notice During SIP Walks --- Day 9/89

Walk: No, Housework
Distance: 0, Yoga, Pedal

Issei Garden

Pretty little rock garden on the way to Japantown.  It honors the first generation of Japanese immigrants who came to San Francisco in the late 1800's, stayed and made it their home.

Friday, July 10, 2020

The Maine Thing --- Day 9/88

Walk: Hood
Distance:  Just 1.5 miles (but arms swinging!), Yoga

Certain American artists live in Ciwt's exalted realm, their works so excellent and reviews so extensive that she shys away from saying anything about them.  But today images of two of them, the writer E.B. White and the painter, Winslow Homer, unexpectedly arrived in Ciwt's email, and this this has prompted her to say a few words. 

Probably she needn't worry about taking them down from their pedestals. Neither of these iconic artists likely gave a hoot whether they were on anyone's pedestal.  Homer devoted numerous paintings to man's tiny, transient, fragile place within the timeless force of nature. And White wonderfully (as always) expressed his thoughts on individual grandeur: "In every queen there a touch of floozy." 

Ciwt can safely say they both chose to live their last years in Maine. And both were originally 'from away,' meaning New York City at least at the beginning of his career in Homer's case.  Of Maine,  White famously wrote “I would rather feel bad in Maine, than feel good anywhere else,” which goes far in capturing White's dry humor and Maine 'soul."

It is anyone's guess what Winslow Homer (1836-1910) said about Maine - or anything personal for that matter.  He craved solitude and was notoriously private, denying commentary even to his biographer.  Prouts Neck, Maine offered him that privacy and silence and appears to be the place that brought out his truest genius.  Already thought by many to be the greatest American artist of the nineteenth century, his paintings took on a new intensity when he moved there late in life.  In Maine he began his deep concentration on the vast, rugged, violent power of the sea.  And these emotional, virtuoso painterly responses to nature are the works - of all his magnificent output - that command the most respect today.

Winslow Homer, Northeaster, 1895, reworked 1901, 34 1/2 x 50", oil on canvas

Elwyn Brooks (E.B.) White  (1899-1985)is the creator of Stuart Little, Charlotte's Web, The Elements of Style and This is New York among many other - often award winning - essays and books. To Ciwt much of his  writing is so exquisite and touching that she can nearly cry just thinking about it.  So she's just going to let him speak for himself today and refer you to the writings of his stepson and fellow New Yorker writer, Roger Angell, for biographical and anecdotal reading. 

EB White Typing

“By comparison with other less hectic days, the city is uncomfortable and inconvenient; but New Yorkers temperamentally do not crave comfort and convenience- if they did they would live elsewhere.”
― E B White, Here Is New York

“A poem compresses much in a small space and adds music, thus heightening its meaning. The city is like poetry: it compresses all life, all races and breeds, into a small island and adds music and the accompaniment of internal engines. The island of Manhattan is without any doubt the greatest human concentrate on earth, the poem whose magic is comprehensible to millions of permanent residents but whose full meaning will always remain elusive.”
― E.B. White, Here Is New York

“A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there, in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort. A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book, you may have your question answered. Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for books are people - people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book."

[Letters of Note; Troy (MI, USA) Public Library, 1971]”
― E.B. White

If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve (or save) the world and a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”

Life’s meaning has always eluded me and I guess it always will. But I love it just the same.”

"All that I hope to say in books, all that I ever hope to say, is that I love the world."   *To this Ciwt would like to add This is how she feels about CIWT.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Swing Those Arms --- Day 9/87

Walk: Lab Corp, T. Joe's, Mollie Stone's
Distance: 3.6, Yoga

Ciwt was telling a friend the other day that, even though she is officially walking and doing yoga as long and often as she did before sheltering made other activities more limited, something felt off.

"Body in motion.  We aren't getting as much of that.  Even when not officially exercising, there are errands in and out of stores, filling your car at the station, just generally using nervous energy and being active." he said.  Then he told her about a doctor in his youth who would almost trot out into the waiting room to get him and then nearly sprint down the hall with arms swinging into his office. At some point her friend asked his doctor about this, and the doctor answered that you can keep more fit and energized simply by swinging your arms as you walk around the house, or in his case, office.

That was many years ago, but, sure enough, the benefits of arms in motion still hold true today.  Turns out arm swinging can increase calorie burning, help distribute physical effort between upper body and legs, tone the arms a bit and generally create and use more energy.

And, actually, there is an optimal way to do this swinging.  The walking pros recommend bending elbows with arms close to body and moving your arms forward/straight out rather than across your body.  It is important not to let the arms come higher than the breastbone.

Sadly, this means that the bear above is moving all wrong.  Oh, dear, Ciwt hates to inform him; he looks so happy and self-satisfied.  So she says, don't worry about form, just worry about remembering to move those arms as you walk around your shelter.

There's a website named "Sit and Be Fit" which Ciwt may have to check out one of these sedentary days. (click link to go there)

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Legacy of Care Continues --- Day 9/86

Walk: Dentist!
Distance: 4.6 miles, Yoga

Gustave Caillebotte, Portrait de Jean Daurelle, en pied.
Donated to Musee d'Orsay, 2019

Gustave Caillebotte died of pulmonary congestion while working in his garden at Petit-Gennevilliers in 1894 at age 45. He is interred at Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. 

He had had no need for money or agents to promote his work and sold very few of his artworks during his lifetime.  His motives behind these few sales are unknown.  And the treasure trove of 68 masterpieces in the legacy he left to the French government did not include any by Caillebotte himself. Also, his remaining brother, Martial, retained the remaining artworks by Gustave in the family.  So, it is understandable that Caillebotte became far better known after his death for his collection of paintings by his Impressionist friends than for his own work which was largely forgotten..

Then somewhere around 1950 his descendents began to offer some of his works for sale, and the art world took particular notice in 1964 when the Art Institute of Chicage acquired Paris Street, Rainy Day.  Now the American art market woke up. By the 1970's  his work had been reassessed and exhibited for the first time in nearly 80 years.

But even then, Gustave's descendents have been slow to let go of his art.  Perhaps like him they have little need for the proceeds plus time is certainly on their side as his reputation continues to grow.  Some relatives insist that the only reason the family let go of Paris Street, Rainly Day is that no one had the necessary wall space to display the enormous work.

To Ciwt there is a certain charm in hearing about what has become of Caillebotte's works over the years. There often seems to be a certain care about how his work is passed on; money doesn't seem to be the entire point. For instance, a major work (but not from his most marvelous, early period), Chemin Montant, fetched $22 million at auction at Christie's just over a year ago.  An enormous amount of money yes, but it was sold specifically 'to benefit a charitable foundation." 

And, again very recently, five little-known works which belonged to Caillebotte's butler, Jean Daurelle, were put on view at the Musee d'Orsay.  They were a remarkable gift made by Daurelle's great granddaugher. The works had been passed down to her through her family and could have been sold for large sums. But she refused all offers by hopeful buyers and donated them to the Musee which was thrilled and touched. 

This was right up Gustave's alley, and Ciwt likes to think he would have been pleased and proud.

Gustave Caillebotte, Chemin Montant, 1881, oil on canvas
Sold at auction to benefit a charitable foundation, 27 February 2019.  Fetched $22,000,000

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Much More Then A Patron --- Day 9/85

Walk: No
Distance: Yoga

Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894)

So today Ciwt is wondering where the whole Impressionist and post-Impressionist movements would be without Gustave Caillebotte.

Because the submissions of many of the group of artists who came to be associated with Impressionism were routinely rejected by the Academie's all important annual Salon de Paris they began to organize their own exhibitions.  The first of these, the Salon des Refuses in 1863, was sponsored by Napoleon III, but when the artists petitioned to have another of these salons they were rejected again and again.  So, in 1873, in frustration and desperation, several of them founded a Society to exhibit their artworks independently.

But establishing a formal name and intention was quite a different matter from financing their exhibitions and realizing money on sales.  Their names included Monet, Renoir, Sisley and others, and most of them were living on the edge of poverty.  It is not impossible to assume that many of them - hence the Impressionist movement - might have failed if it had not been for Caillebotte who funded several of their exhibitions and, now famously, purchased many of their works which form the cornerstone of the Musee d'Orsay collection of masterpieces from that period.

Probably because he had inherited a fortune at age 26 and never had to live off his art sales, Caillebotte, arguably one of the most important Impressionists, was the least well known until relatively recently.  (More on making a name in art in another CIWT).  As his name is coming to the fore, a charismatic, energetic, multi-talented man is being revealed.

For one thing, he was a serious, dedicated artist who painted several of the world's most important masterpieces.  Maybe you've read CIWT Day 9/83 or perhaps you've seen posters or been to the d'Orsay and viewed the actual and magnificent The Floor Scrapers.

Gustave Caillebotte, The Floor Scrapers, 1875, 6'4" x 4'9"

Then there is his brother, Rene, looking out of the window of the family home in Paris.

Young Man at His Window, 1875, 46"x32", oil on canvas

And, if you've been to the Chicago Institute of Art, you've certainly seen its other (besides George Seurat's  La Grande Jatte) most popular Impressionist painting:

Paris Street, Rainy Day, 1877, ca 6.9' x 9'

In addition to  being a licensed (but never practicing) lawyer, dedicated art patron, collector, and passionate painter, Caillebotte used his wealth to fund a variety of hobbies for which he was equally passionate.  These included stamp collecting (his collection is now in the British Museum), orchid horticulture, yacht building (he was a studied naval engineer), even textile design.  As if that isn't enough, Caillebotte's garden at his Petit Gennevilliers estate on the Seine was a strong influence on Monet's famous garden.  Caillebotten would sail downstream to Giverny and the two artist-gardeners would enjoy innumerable hours sharing thoughts on their mutual loves.

Monday, July 6, 2020

No d'Orsay? --- Day 9/84

Walk:  Hood/Presidio
Distance:  3 miles walk/lope

One of many Impressionist and post-Impressionist galleries at the Musee d'Orsay

It could be argued there would be no Musee d'Orsay without Gustave Caillebotte.  Or that the museum would not attract as many visitors.  It had 3.6 million in 2019, many of whom came for the sole purpose of viewing the largest collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world.  And most of those masterpieces were bequested by Caillebotte in his will as a gift to the Government of France.

This incredible bequest was accepted only relunctantly by the State.  In fact they refused the paintings at first.  Why?  Well, the 68(!) paintings in his collection were by Caillebotte's friends and acquaintances whom he liked, admired and patronized.  Their names included Monet (they were gardening buddies), Manet, Renoir, Degas, Cezanne, Seurat, the list goes on.  Virtually all either Impressionists or Post-Impressionists which was France's problem with the collection.  In 1894, at the time of Caillebotte's early death at age 45 and will, those two art forms were still considered minor, possibly a passing fad, by the powers that be in the French art world. The French state was actually quite embarrassed by the gift and reluctant to devote valuable museum exhibition space to it. 

Finally, three years later, they accepted the bequest.  By that time, they had culled through it, and deemed only 40 acceptable.  (The rest were refused and either retained or sold by the family).  Finally the Caillebotte Room at the Luxembourg Palace opened to the public in 1897, the first exhibition of Impressionist paintings ever to be displayed in a French Museum.

The rest of course is history.  Much to the dismay of the French government who made an attempt to reclaim the other 28 works in 1928.  The government was rebutted by Caillebotte's heirs and the works remain in private - or non-Musee d'Orsay museum - collections to this day.  The original paintings from Caillebotte's legacy form the core of the Musee d'Orsay's renowned Impressionist collection.  Heureusement! (ie, Luckily)

Sunday, July 5, 2020

What Work Looks Like --- Day 9/83

Walk: Presidio
Distance: 2.5 miles, Housework (whew)

Gustave Caillebotte, The Floor Scrapers, 1875, 6'4" x 4'9"
Well, Ciwt didn't work quite this hard cleaning her place today.  But it felt this way at times because she doesn't have her housework skills down.

Viewing the famous and greatly respected The Floor Scrapers, it is easy to see how Caillebotte gained his reputation as one of the great realist artists of the 19th century.

The Floor Scrapers is known for its early depiction of the urban working class at work.  Until this painting, nearly all pictures of men and women at work were country scenes of farm workers and peasants (often idealized or standing for a particular political message). Caillebotte has no such message about his subjects here, or, if he does, he avoids the temptation to contain it in his painting.  Instead he paints masterfully in a neutral, nearly documentary style focusing on the workers' actions, tools, muscular bodies and the soft lighting.  Perhaps his neutrality is one of the reasons the The Floor Scrapers continues to be beloved and respected by viewers at all levels of society.

More to come on Monsieur Gustave Caillebotte....

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Perspective --- Day 9/82

Walk: Presidio
Distance: 3 Miles, Yoga

San Francisco National Cemetery, July 4, 2020

Friday, July 3, 2020

Red at the Library --- Day 9/81

Walk: Presidio
Distance: 5 miles, Yoga

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Everywhere Puce --- Day 9/80

Walk: No
Distance: Yoga

Perhaps she is facile, but bright colors to Ciwt are happy colors and dark ones aren't.  There's a particular dark color that she finds gloomy bordering on alienating.  Puce.

By definition puce is a dark red or purple brown, a brownish purple-grey color.  Ick!  It gets worse: Puce (according to an online source) means 'flea' in French, and (the source goes on) its use as a color is said to refer to the color of bloodstains in your sheets due to flea bites.

So why oh why did Mark Rothko have to use puce throughout his Rothko Chapel (and put an end Ciwt's unqualified love of his art)?

Rothko Chapel, Interior, Houston

Perhaps his Houston patrons who commissioned the Rothko Chapel, John and Dominique de Menil,  had the same question. Reportedly Dominique's first reaction when she saw the paintings was "Frankly, I expected color."  (Yes!  Those beautiful stirring colors from earlier in the 60's - and yesterday's CIWT). Actually, Rothko had an answer to that question: It took him a year to decide what the paintings should be: Something you don't want to look at. 
Rothko's health, state of mind and, likely, spirit were deteriorating as he painted the Chapel paintings in a New York studio in 1967.  In late 1970, a year before the Chapel opened, he committed suicide, and the story of the Chapel became complicated and controversial.

Perhaps the main controversy surrounds the beauty and feeling of the Rothko Chapel.  There are many, locally and internationally, who adore the paintings and come in solitude to meditate, reflect, be with their private thoughts. As Carol Mancusi-Ungaro, a conservator for the Whitney Museum wrote in 2001, "The Chapel ..leaves you alone with yourself, your thoughts, your emotions, your vulnerabilities..The artist did not want the paintings to come out to you; he wanted them to draw you in." 

Then there is the other camp.  One Texas artist is quoted as saying bluntly of the chapel, "It is a place where art and life and imagination go to die." And, one of Rothko's greatest art critic defenders described the Chapel as "at worst a well-designed crematorium." 

Rothko Chapel Exterior

Sight unseen, Ciwt has a pretty good sense of where she positions herself in this debate.  If he just hadn't chosen PUCE.....

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Let There Be Light --- Day 9/79

Walk: Hood
Distance: 4.4 miles, Yoga

So, Ciwt is a longtime fan of Mark Rothko's art.

Rothko was at heart a musician; classical music was rarely off as he painted.  He immersed himself in the sounds, particularly Mozart's, the way Mozart's musical textures gave way to emotionality.  Joy, tragedy, ecstacy.  That power of  'going beyond' into spirit was Rothko's near impossible quest for his canvasses.

And so often it is what he achieved with his softly bleeding blocks of rich color.  In the 50's and 60's, his heyday, his works were titled simply - the year, a number, sometimes mention of the colors - but their effects were huge. At MoMA in the 1960's Ciwt remembers  numerous people dissolving into tears within moments of encountering his canvasses.  It was unexpected and spontaneous for them; something about his large expanses of subtly applied color tapped into their emotions and spirit in a profound, sensory way.

Orange Red Yellow, 1961
And there was inner light.  His colors were so compressed, the many washes so skillfully layered, the depth so deep that the best - and there were many - emitted a glow.  Like a very muted sun, even the dark ones.  If some of those were put together in an unlit room, they would literally light the room of their own accord.  Ciwt saw this for herself in one room at MoMA filled with several of his blue and black works.  The room was transporting; it felt as if she was bathed in moonglow.

It was magical and remarkable.  Ethereal, and Ciwt certainly wasn't alone in feeling this.  One of Rothko's curators for a London exhibition captured the effect of this genius:  “[Rothko] asked me to switch all the lights off [late afternoon, when daylight had practically gone], everywhere; and suddenly, Rothko’s colours made its own light: the effect, once the retina had adjusted itself, was unforgettable, smoldering and blazing and glowing softly from the walls – colour in darkness… the world Rothko had made, in those perfect conditions, radiating its own energy and uncorrupted by artifice or the market place.”

But, as deeply as Rothko's art speaks to her, she has questions about about  how she would respond to visiting the Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas.   More on that tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Still Standing --- Days 9/76, 77 & 78

Walk: 1. No  2. Hood 3. Presidio
Distance: 1. Yoga  2. 3.5 miles, Yoga  3. 4 Miles, Yoga

Blackened Spire way in the distance

Framed between the tree trunks, Ciwt was happy to see the charred presence of Goldsworthy's Spire still standing today. 

Her (perfect 👍 - and happenstance) centering of Spire between those trees would make the French artist Claude Lorrain (1604/5-1682) proud.  Well, probably not; Lorrain, who invented this 'split tree' framing technique had plenty of proud ego which he wasn't in the habit of sharing.  Witness the fact that he went by and is still known by his single, first name, Claude.

In his time such nomenclature was exceeding rare and allowed to only the most gifted: Michangelo, Leonardo, Rembrandt - and Claude.  What Claude did to earn his exalted contemporary reputation and place in artistic history was elevate landscape scenes from the bottom rung of the hierarchy of subjects to a genre that was avidly collected by patrons on the Grand Tour of Italy where he painted.

He did this primarily by applying to the lowly landscape the classically ordered and harmonious techniques taught by the all-powerful Academie Royale.  And then he populated his paintings with mythic, idyllic or bibilical figures and architectural elements in the ancient Greek style.  And, voila, with him, landscape began its ascendancy to the most beloved and sought after form of painting it is today.

Claude, Landscape with Dancing Figures, 1648, oil on canvas

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Home Yoga --- Day 9/75

Walk: No
Distance: 0, Yoga (x2)

Some people have elaborate yoga/meditation spaces.  Not Ciwt; hers is pretty simple, mat on top of area rug, props available.  The great thing about yoga mats is they fit just about anywhere - even bathrooms if that is only place you can find privacy and peace for your practice.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Home Deck --- Days 9/73 & 74

Walks: 1. No  2. Trader Joe's
Distance: 1. 0, yoga   2. 2 miles, yoga

Finding Home is often a near mystical experience.

In Ciwt's case, her home has split feelings.  You come to the front or street half after climbing 70 (!) stairs.  This half is classically Victorian, and, when Ciwt first followed the For Sale sign up those stairs and saw it, her reaction was 'Very nice, but ho hum.  Not home.'

Then she turned the other direction, headed down the hallway and came into a library type room (now her 'everything room') that felt decidely more modern.  Wood cased windows but lower, very light, cozy.  At the end of that room, through a glass door in a traditional frame, she saw Home! in the form of a huge deck, or a deck as large as the living room and much larger than most residential city decks anywhere.  It was instant access to the outdoors, from the top floor, safely 70 stairs up from the street.  It was nature, freedom, sanctuary, and from the moment she saw it, it became all hers.  All that was left was the paperwork as far as she was concerned.

That was forty years and several Ciwt, cat and planting lifetimes ago.  During all those times she has loved and appreciated her deck, and, certainly never more than now during our present prolonged shelter-in-place times.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Ex Spire (?), cont. --- Day 9/72

Walk: Spire, Breck's on Arguello
Distance:  4 miles

Ciwt visited the damaged Spire* today and found it meditative and peaceful in its charred state.  She is hoping the Presidio Trust can find a way to keep the sculpture standing.  

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Ex-Spire? --- Day 9/71

Walk: No
Distance: 0, Yoga

Andy Goldsworthy's Spire     Ablaze     6/23/20
Ciwt is very sad that one of her and San Francisco's most beloved works may be gone.*

* See CIWT 7/54, 7/55, &/71&72, 8/49

Monday, June 22, 2020

Meticulous Freshness --- Days 9/68,69 & 70

Walks: 1. Presidio  2. No  3. Hood Monday errands
Distance: 1. 3 miles, yoga  2. Yoga  3. 4 miles, yoga

Canaletto (Venice 1697- Venice 1768), The Bacino di San Marco on Ascension Day, c. 1733-4 

Sheltering at home on a foggy San Francisco summer day Ciwt's mind goes to Venice and the galaxy of artists who have have taken its ancient splendors and pearly light as subject. Amongst the many who have captured its canals, palaces and people, perhaps the most well known and beloved is Venetian born Giovanni Antonio Canal, known as Canaletto.

The Venice Canaletto painted had declined from her former eminence as a maritime and commercial power. And her High Renaissance greats, Titian, Tintoreto, Veronese had long since passed away.  Venice had become more of a theatrical city by Canaletto's time, devoted to luxury, filled with political corruption, cherishing its pageantry and intrigues.  And Canaletto was a master at capturing in extraordinary detail the full sweep of its azure canals, slightly decayed architecture, and ongoing carnival atmosphere.

His stunning compositions, freshness of touch and flair for color made Canaletto the darling of international travelers on their Grand Tours, particularly the English. Later, in the 18th century Catherine the Great and other European monarchs competed with each other to acquire his top works. That the British Royal Collection in London contains the finest and largest group of paintings, drawings and prints is no accident because they were bought directly from Canaletto's greatest patron, Joseph Smith, by none other than a young George III.  And to this day his sparkling and easily recognizable views of Venice remain beloved among collectors and museums goers - and a balm for foggy - as well as sunny - days.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Live and Learn (Kind of...) --- Day 9/68

Walk: Hood
Distance: 3 Miles, small yoga

Another new skill (besides cooking 👎) Ciwt is a bit slow at acquiring is how to fit in at Zoom get togethers.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Tell the Chef *#!*## --- Day 9/67

Walk: No, on phone with Apple
Distance: 0, Yoga x 3

Ciwt knows exactly how this dog feels.  Every night these days she's thinking "Send this back to the kitchen!"  But, unfortunately, she's the chef.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Return to the Roads --- Days 9/65 & 66

Walk: 1. No 2.Hood and Joe's
Distance: 1.Yoga  2. 2 miles, Yoga

Now that we are partially open for business in San Francisco, Ciwt is amazed at how much she - and others - have forgotten about proper walking and driving in these past months.

Monday, June 15, 2020

With Books We Grow --- Day 9/64

Walk: 1. Presidio  2. Monday errands
Distance: 1. 3 miles, Yoga  2. 4 miles, Yoga

Minneapolis Central Library, Built 1889, 10th and Hennepin

It's a wonder Ciwt likes libraries so much when she looks at an old photo of the kind of creepy one she 'grew up' with.  It was downtown which was a huge trek in many ways from her homogeneous surburban world.  And not many people Ciwt knew ever went there.  

She did because she was fascinated.  There were always many people sitting the library's stone castle steps.  And they were visibly different in various ways from those she saw every day in her home town and school.  Just seeing these people opened Ciwt's consciousness, and she liked that they seemed to feel safe and welcome there.  Like she was.  

Minneapolis Central Library, Opened 1961, 4th and Nicollet 

By 1961 Ciwt was away at boarding school so she wasn't in Minneapolis when they finally decided 
the old library was overcrowded and out of date and built a new one.  Looks to her like the people would have gathered on the outside square in nicer weather; she wonders where they went in the much more common colder weather.  She also thinks she would have needed the "Guide to the New Public Library"   the 1961 library offered because the building included a library, a planetarium, an auditorium and a small museum which became famous among school children for its Egyptian mummies.

Building Two was also built like (an ugly Ciwt thinks) tank that took wreckers a long time to wrestle down when Minneapolis engaged Caesar Pelli to design the present Minneapolis Central Library.

Minneapolis Central Library, Caesar Pelli, Architect.  Opened 2006, in site of 1961 building

The "New Central" has over 300 internet computers for use by the public, a huge atrium (where maybe the people hang out), a 'green' roof and a host of energy efficient measures.  It bills itself as having the 'third largest per capita collection of any major American city with a collection of more than 2.4 million items - including books, DVDs, music and government documents.'  Which makes Ciwt wonder how soon it might outgrow this current iteration.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

The Home We Shelter In --- Day 9/63

Walk: No, Day off for books
Distance: 0 - just exercising eyes and brain, Yoga

Some people are happy turning their decorating (including bookshelves) over to professionals.  Not Ciwt. At this point, her home is her history, a sort of homage to herself.  Nothing is here that hasn't evolved into its right place - for her.

Unfortunately sheltering in place without her housekeeper Amy has brought Ciwt face to face with some of the wear and tear she's been able to overlook.  When she wasn't so eyeball to paint, appliances, fabrics around her home she could just occuply herself with her clothes closet capers.  The rest was stage setting. Now she sees there's lots that could be done to update some of that scenery.

Some might say all of it.  But that feels like disturbing a fabric that has taken years to weave into wholecloth. Where would she start?  Or does she start at all? Coming up with answers opens the door to larger questions like where is she in her life now? 

All of us are at home these days, and probably many who have lived in their homes for a long time are having similar thoughts.  Wonder what we'll decide.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Along for the Ride --- Days 9/61 & 62

Walk: 1. No  2. Presidio and Hood
Distance: 1. Yoga  2. 4.5 miles, Yoga

Like many other people in this very changed city at this very, - what?, unique, unexpected, arduous - time, Ciwt wonders how to respond.  This isn't the city she or they moved to.

Starting with its overnight Gold Rush history, San Francisco has been no stranger to change.  But often there was a buoyancy accompanying the upheavals.  And somehow control was wrested over each new incarnation. Now it seems control has been lost along with almost the 'whole enchilada.'

Several people she knows have left.  Her next door neighbors just put their house on the market after spending years and millions of dollars remodeling it.  An art gallery owner and hood mainstay moved with his wife to the gorgeous Santa Barbara.  Her brother has been on her for years to at least get a place in Palm Springs.

But deep at heart, Ciwt is loyal; she really isn't a mover and probably would never have left her home town if she hadn't been sent to boarding school.  Another story - fraught but with a happy San Francisco ending.  San Francisco has been to place that offered her the most freedom to expand in her way - and in ways that would have been nearly impossible to achieve in that home town. The City, including the whole Bay Area, marched her right into herself, often in spite of herself.  She held onto her hat, and when the dust settled, she looked around and said "Wow; actually that was a good way to grow." 

San Francisco's unceasing momentum is still at play, but now it feels precarious.  What will the city become?  What about Ciwt's individual life here - same question.  And, for now, her particular answer is...... "We'lllll see....."  She's staked her claim.  Or, as Tony Bennet would croon......♫♫

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Worth Remembering --- Day 9/60

Walk: Hood
Distance:  2 miles, Yoga
Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919)

From Susan Orlean's The Library Book:

The general public didn't really agree on the value of public libraries until the end of the nineteenth century.  Before that, libraries were viewed as scholarly and elite, rather than an indispensable and democratic public resource.  Many public libraries still had membership fees.  The change of attitude began with the philanthropy of Scottish businessman Andrew Carnegie, who launched a library-building project in 1890.  Carnegie was born in Scotland and then emigrated to the United States.  His father was a weaver, and the family teetered between poverty and modest comfort throughout his childhood.  As a young boy he had little money to spare; for instance, he couldn't afford the two-dollar membership fee for the local library.  Eventually, he made a fortune in steel and railroads, and at one time was the richest man in the world.  When he reached middle age, he decided to commit the last third of his life to giving away his money.  The disappointment of not being able to afford the local library had stuck with him, and he chose libraries as one of the main beneficiaries of his philanthropy.  He offered large grants to build libraries in communities that would commit to supporting them with tax revenues.  Towns and cities began lobbying to get Carnegie funding, and the process of applying had the effect of rallying interest and support for public ibraries.  Carnegie ended up building nearly 1,700 libraries in 1,400 communities.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Always Remember... --- Day 9/59

Walk: Presidio and Hood
Distance: 5 miles, Yoga

Monday, June 8, 2020

First Get in Motion --- Day 9/58

Walk: Presidio
Distance: 3 miles, Yoga

So Ciwt has always tended to be an afternoon exerciser.  Occasionally mid-day.  But in the last few days she's taken her (beloved) walk first thing (or so) in the morning. The object was to avoid congestion, have as much space as possible.  But, unexpectedly, it also made her days feel smoother, more easily productive.  Yes, on the morning walks there had been fewer people/more freedom/more walking enjoyment, but the results felt beyond those things. 

Then today she read a passage by a Swedish man whose family began every day with a walk before releasing the children to do whatever they wanted with the rest of the day.

"You may play inside now," my mother would say, smiling.  We had been nomadic for a brief period and were allowed to be civilized again.  It was a principle we had been raised to follow: if you want to sit still, first you have to move around.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

(Im)possible Lament Response -- Days 9/56 & 57

Walk: 1. no  2. hood
Distance: 1. Yoga  2. 3 miles, Yoga

Yes, maybe Ciwt could have San Francisco to herself if she walks very early every morning.  But then there is the doing it.....😒

Friday, June 5, 2020

Lament --- Days 9/53 & 54

Walk: 1. Hood  2. No 
Distance: 1. 3.4, Yoga  2. 3 Blocks to garage and exercising her car, Yoga

For Ciwt every walk is an adventure.  Even the ones when she's forced herself to lace up her Asics and is traveling the same route she's walked countless times.  Very shortly after setting out something (a graden maybe) looks different or there's a new feeling in the air, or thoughts get triggered that haven't been before, and once again she feels like she's adventuring through and with the world.

Until recently, and here (after health) lies the main on-going stress of these virus times for her.  Now, because we need to be constantly wary, masked and and mindful when we walk, walking has become akin to going to the gym and doing those good-for-you but uninspiring reps.  Much as Ciwt tries to construct a sense of adventure, she can't get into it, and nd she often returns home a bit agitated and sometimes even relieved to just have the walk over.

This - exercise for the sake of exercise - is not the relationship she wants with walking.  It's no fun, and she misses the fun and the connection.  Deeply.  The freedom, the exploring, the exercising, the sense of "Hello, World!"

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

One Thought at a Time --- Day 9/52

Walk:  Post Office
Distance: 2.5 miles, Yoga

Maybe Ciwt mentioned that she's slowly getting the knack of reading more than one book at a time.
That is, reading a few chapters/pages/whatever of one book, then going on to another.

Here's an unexpected something she has realized by adopting this system:  the author's thoughts sink in more deeply.  It seems to her many authors tend to group concepts and at the end of a paragraph, section or chapter, they have often laid out a point they are trying to make. It could be an aspect of a character, portrait of an historical personage, a philosophical idea, an important plot development.  Whatever it is, the author is organized around it for a certain passage of paragraphs, pages, chapters.

In 'regular,' start to finish reading Ciwt would go from one of these passages to the other. One after the other taking in the concepts but also eagerly moving ahead to what was next.  In the new, more focused, multi-book type of read, Ciwt notices that she spends more mental time with what the author has been saying for the pages she's read.

Subtle, but interesting she thinks.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Got Books? --- Day 9/51

Walk: No, Too hot
Distance: 0, Yoga

Ciwt is trying to recall what media person or program would have been talking books in the late 1970's.  That's when she and her partner owned a bookstore in a mountain ski resort.  Books were so unusual in that state and place at the time that some people would panic when they came through the door.  Ciwt wasn't sure what to do about that, and it was her partner who suggested greeting cards.  Sure enough.  As soon as a spinning rack of cards was installed, the 'book scared' happily darted right over to them - and added to the profits of the store.

For the 'book lovers,' it was harder to solve the problem that would ensue when there was a sudden run on a particular book.  People we were trying to entice actually called ahead or came in droves to secure the title.  It was great in some ways - clientele! - but difficult in others because a small bookstore can only afford to stock 'x' number of copies of one book - shelf space-wise and monetarily. Every book brought in is ordered sight unseen months ahead of time and a gamble.

What was going on on those book rush days?  Ciwt actually came up with the answer to this:  the now forgotten media person or program had featured that book that morning.  The fix wasn't easy.  Some people could be persuaded to special order the book, wait for its arrival and support their local (and only!) bookstore.  Others would lecture us owners having to 'serve locals' like their home - meaning big city/copious shelf space - store did.  One man actually sent his private pilot through the skies to his home store whenever these rushes happened and brought them immediately upon their personal arrival to show (humiliate) Ciwt and her partner.

From title to entitlement.  Oh well. 

Now what was the name of that program or star?

Monday, June 1, 2020

Shared Gardener? --- Days 9/49 & 9/50

Walk: 1. No 2. Hood and Joe's
Distance: 1. Yoga  2. 3.5 Miles, Yoga

These three street gardens are right next to each other, and each one is an artistic jewel.  Ciwt suspects the owners share a gardener, a very talented gardener.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Got $tuff --- Day 9/48

Walk: Hood
Distance: Short mile just to get out

So like many of her neighbors near and far, Ciwt has been deeper into her closets and drawers than she thought she ever would be short of moving.  And as her storeroom fills with 'donations,' she wonders if Goodwill or any of the 'usual suspects' will once again be allowed to take them. From there, it isn't much of a leap to "Whatever will Ciwt do with these things?"

The other day, she saw a Yellow Sack on the sidewalk.  Maybe that is the answer; you buy one, put it on the sidewalk, fill it and they pick it up on 24 hour notice.  But ...looks like every pick up is at least $130 and there are tons of work arounds for where you are allowed to place the sacks.  So she'll be holding off and hoping Goodwill will be back in action.  (Also that her near neighbors don't decide to go the sack route because they are quite an eyesore.