Thursday, December 31, 2020

Oh, Are You Leaving ? --- Day 9/254

Walk: No

Distance: 3/4 mile up and down stairs, turning book pages, etc.

Ciwt didn't have this kid's energy for the end of the year.  She read, groomed her cats, brought in the mail, home stuff like that and just let 2020 go on its way.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

No More Noir --- Day 9/253

Walk: Hood

Distance: 4 miles, Yoga

Odilon Redon, Guardian Spirit of the Waters, 1878, charcoal on treated paper

Odilon Redon, Bouquet of Flowers, ca. 1905, pastel on paper

Young artists often go through several stages reaching their statement/their look.  But, once established with regular patronage, it is quite rare for them to radically change their imagery and style.  Not so with the French artist, Odilon Redon, as you can see above.

From her art selling days Ciwt personally remembers the uproar from collectors when their beloved artist suddenly started making very different works.  There is the sadness that they won't be able to add more of the look they like to their collections.  But also shock if they have been collecting in hopes of some day selling at a profit because is often difficult to develop a following for an established artist's new style. Same goes for the gallery or dealer representing the artist.

But, again, not so Redon. The many floral still lifes that he created at the end of his career are actually among his most popular and recognizable works and have been widely reproduced.  Some critics feel the bouquets of  nearly floating and glowing color are simply another form of Redon's noirs as they all come from Redon's intense imagination and inner vision.  Certainly more colorful, but, rather than mere elements of home decor, the flowers appear to them to be apparitions on a par with his monochromes.

Whatever the critics' or Redon's thinking, Ciwt is sure she would only have collected his new look if she had been buying art in the early 20th century.  And, she would have made that profit.  Oh, and she also would have bought a bunch of early Matisses....

Speaking of vivid imaginations.......

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Court 1 --- Day 9/252

Walk: Presidio Pickleball

Distance: 2.5 miles, 90 minutes pickleball

Watch that yellow pickleball!  Presidio Wall Court #1 today

Maybe next week rain.  But for now the weather holds and allows Ciwt and others to have an outdoor activity during our shutdown - 6 feet away in masks.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Blue Doors --- Day 9/251

Walk: No, Monday Home Chores

Distance: 1/2 mile, Yoga

So several people in Ciwt's neighborhood apparently decided covid lockdown was a good time to give their houses fresh coats of paint.  She doesn't remember ever before seeing glossy royal blue used for front doors, but now it seems to be all over the place.  (Maybe the owners were all working with the same color consultant?)

Anyway, Ciwt thinks the blue doors are very snappy and make the classic Victorians more lively and fresh.  You?

Sunday, December 27, 2020

For Justice --- Day 9/250

 Walk: Presidio Pickleball

Distance: 2.5 miles, 90 minutes pickle, small yog

So, Ciwt is thinking our new President might consider Michael Connelly for his Justice Department appointment.  Not really of course.  But Connelly probably knows as much about criminal justice as anyone - and has done more than his fair share keeping Ciwt absorbed and entertained - as well as informed - throughout our Covid shutdown.  She's read quite a few of his books, and each one is exceedingly well researched and filled with interesting, accurate procedural information, complex characters and compelling action.  

Connelly's  fascination with the crime beat may have begun as a Florida teenager when he witnessed a man running and dropping something into the hedges. Connelly went over to them, pulled back the branches and found a gun wrapped in a shirt - the first time he'd held a gun - and, later dealt (disappointingly)* with the police.  But Connelly's the real start came when he discovered Raymond Chandler's books in college and decided to become a writer himself.  As he tells it, “I read all of Chandler’s novels in two weeks, and it really turned my head. That’s when I started saying I don’t want to just read this stuff. I want to write it. It wasn’t a decision to become a writer. I wanted to become a writer of crime fiction. I was very specific.” So the always thoroughly prepared Connelly, switched his major from Engineering to Journalism with a minor in Creative Writing.

After college he worked at several prestigious Florida papers specializing in the crime beat.  Six years after graduating, Connelly had already been short-listed for a Pulitzer Prize when he was hired by the Los Angeles Times and elevated to the top level of journalism. And five years into his stint there, his book series history began with the publication of The Black Echo which won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel, and introduced his anti-hero detective, Hieronymus Bosch.  

By the mid 90's Connelly felt confident enough in his prospects to leave journalism and write his own books full time.  Since then, well ... he has published 36 books and counting, sold 80 million of them so far and seen several of those go onto the big screen, created and hosted the podcast Murder Book, been executive producer of the Amazon series Bosch and more.  But Connolly never left his reporter's demands behind.  Every book is exactingly researched before he even begins writing and checked again and again for accuracy throughout the process from page to publication.

Come to think of it, what would Ciwt and millions of other Connelly readers do for compelling reading if he was stuck in the Justice Department?!

Michael Connelly

*The man turned out to be a robber and Connelly had seen him.  So as a fascinated but fearful teen, he worked the lineup with the police.  The man the cops identified wasn't the right one, but Connelly couldn't convince them they had the wrong guy.  As he tells it, "They thought I was this white kid from the suburbs...I was telling the truth.  But I was found guilty by those cops and it really bothered me."  Many years later, reportedly, it still does.  

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Let There Be Color --- Day 9/249

Walk: Presidio Pickleball Courts

Distance: 2.9 miles, 1 hour pickle, small yoga

So, Ciwt has always thought the interiors of most Gothic cathedrals were bare stone with the only distinct interior color coming from their stained glass windows. Then during this holiday season she stumbled on some of these pictures.  Wrong, Ciwt -  and  how Beautiful.

Sainte-Chapelle, ceiling of the lower chapel: Saint Louis’ Sainte-Chapelle epitomizes the Rayonnant Gothic style as was King Louis IX’s personal chapel.

Duomo di Sienna
Orvietto Cathedral 

Cloister of Cathédrale Sainte-Marie de Bayonne

Friday, December 25, 2020

'Our' Santa Appears --- Day 9/248

 Walk: Maybe later (cold and showery) or maybe a cozy at home Christmas

Distance: We'll see, Yoga

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), Extra Good Boys and Girls (Santa on Ladder with Map), 1939. Cover illustration for The Saturday Evening Post, December 16, 1939

Among his many Americana accomplishments, Norman Rockwell brought us our present day image of Santa Claus.  Before Rockwell, American Santa had many looks including a thin elflike man dressed in green, a skinny gnarly looking man with a scraggly beard.  For a while he had no hat, then, when he did, there was no uniform look or color to it.  Sometimes it was black, sometimes red.

Then along came Norman Rockwell, age 19 and already a very young Art Director of the Boy Scouts of America Magazine, Boy's Life.  And his  December 1913 cover with its round jollyish Santa dressed in his red suit and hat  and, ho, ho, ho, there was our Santa.  

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Open Door --- Day 9/247

 Walk: Hood

Distance: 3 miles

Ciwt welcomes good holiday spirit to all

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

More Holiday Awards --- Day 9/246

 Walk: Hood

Distance: 2.5 miles, Yoga

Most Precarious (one puff of wind and....😟)


                 Best (and Only) Snow Scene

Best Holiday Car

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Keeping It Real --- Day 9/245

Walk: Presidio Wall Pickleball

Distance: 3.5 miles, 1 hour pickleball, small yoga

Entrance to Swedenborgian Church Compound (with plaque) on Lyon Street, San Francisco
Swedenborgian Church wall facing Washington Street, San Francisco

Tis the season when churches naturally come to mind, and today Ciwt is considering one about five blocks from her home: Swedenborgian Church of San Francisco.  To say it is easy to walk by is an understatement; Ciwt and other neighbors do it all the time.  Some might have stopped in front of the National Historic Landmark plaque that tells readers: 

This church represents a unique collaboration of leading archtects and artisans , who together created one of the earliest expressions of the Arts and Crafts Movement of the West Coast.

But it doesn't mention the truly wonderous fact that the church was built and has been in continuous operation since 1895.  In other words, it survived the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906.

Many have never gone through the wrought iron gates to experience the restful walled garden: 


Or the beautifully finished sanctuary of the wooden interior looking nearly identical to the day of its first service:

Recent candlelit evening service


Or experienced the enveloping hush, almost like a redwood grove.  Everything possible is of natural objects.  The massive bark-covered madrone support logs were carefully carted from the Santa Cruz mountains, the walls are hung with four landscape murals depicting the changing seasons contributed by the renowned painter William Keith, the sturdy chairs are nailless handmade maple with seats of woven tule rushes from the Sacramento River Delta.  The list of nature-based art, archtecture and landscape details in the Swedenborgian religious compound is extensive.

In its entirety the Swedenborgian compound is a intimate work of art.  And, besides the polymath genius theologian Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772)*, credit for establishing and guiding the arts and crafts look of the church goes to its first and long time minister, Reverend Joseph Worcester. Massachusetts born and educated before taking a sailing ship to San Francisco, an amateur architect himself, he bought the land, envisioned the plan for the church, personally selected many of the materials and art objects and assembled the artistic team that completed the project.  For students of San Francisco history the make up of that team is truly jaw dropping: a young, soon to be famous  Bernard Maybeck was one of the architects, and the already mentioned celebrated painter William Keith and Rev. Worcester were all Scottish-American and close friends and hiking buddies of John Muir (founder of the Sierra Club) who attended many services at the church.

Maybe Emanuel Swedenborg eying Ciwt's hair

*A Stanford University study estimated that Swedenborg, along with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and John Stuart Mill, had the highest IQ in history.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Winter Solstice, 2020 --- Day 9/244

Walk: Monday errands

Distance: 4 miles, Yoga

Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year and the beginning of a new season. It is a time when people around the world welcome back the light and the gradual increase in daylight. If you follow astrology, today is significant as both Saturn and Jupiter align at the same degree of the zodiac, signaling the new "Age of Aquarius" and great potential. Astronomers call this the Great Conjunction and it’s been nearly 400 years since the planets passed this close to each other in the sky, and nearly 800 years since they aligned at night, allowing nearly everyone around the world to witness this “great conjunction." A powerful celestial and energetic transition is unfolding!

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Pickleball Star --- Day 9/243

 Walk: Presidio Pickleball, Pet Food Xpress

Distance: 3.5 miles, 90 min. pickleball

Guess Who

Friday, December 18, 2020

Stepping Back --- 9/242

  Walk: T. Joe's, Pickleball

Distance: 4.5, 90 min. pickleball

Ciwt will miss the comfortable, intelligent Friday night presence of Mark Shields.  She didn't always agree with him, but he was so pleasant and decent she always respected him, listened to his commentary with interest and learned a lot.  

Coziest? --- Day 9/243

Walk: Presidio Picleball                    

Distance: 3.5 miles, 90 minutes pickleball

Maybe because it's California, we don't get many sleighs or santa snow scenes with our holiday decorations.  But this traditional wreath entry will probably get Ciwt's Coziest Award.  Nice, as we approach the shortest day of the year.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

White and Red Candidate--- Days 9/240 and 241

Walk: 1. Pickleball  2. Up and Down Stairs

Distance: 1. 2 miles, 1 hour pickle  2. 1.4 miles

Just very clean and simple.  Maybe a Best Holiday second or third prize candidate.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

And the Winner Is --- Days 9/238 & 239

Walk: 1. Pickleball 2. No; Day of  preparing recycling pickup

Distance: 1. 3 miles, 90 minutes pickle  2. .5 miles, Yoga

So to give you a little insight into Ciwt's covid lockdown life, the other day she found herself bingeing on Elvis.  You Tube videos and a couple of documentaries on him.  A fact from one of the latter continues to blow her away a bit:

Turns out Elvis wasn't at all popular in school, quiet and actually considered peculiar, "a nothing," or whatever terms 50's teenagers might have used.  Then he happened to enter the annual school talent contest at L.C. Humes High School.  He was 16, it was his first high school performance so they probably didn't give his entry a thought.  On the day of the show the audience - kids, parents, grandparents, a bunch of locals - filled the auditorium.  When Elvis was introduced, he walked on  alone, and gave them.... "Old Shep."*

Can you imagine?!!  They had absolutely no idea what was coming, and there on their aauditorium stage was that extraordinary rich voice delivering a song that tears hearts apart. Probably there was silence for a moment, then they demanded an encore - all clapping, most completely stunned, some dissolved in tears. They must have known they were hearing something completely special, but, Ciwt doubts any of them guessed that just five years later that quiet boy would be ELVIS, the international sensation.

*He had actually sung "Old Shep" for a singing contest at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show.  It was his first public performance, age 10 and needing to stand on a chair to reach the microphone. He came in 5th and won $5 and a ticket to all the fair rides.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Untitled Even --- Days 9/235, 236 & 237

Walk: 1. Pickleball, T Joe's  2.  Hood in the drizzle 3. No, rain 😀

Distance: 1. 3.5 miles, pickle   2. 2.5 miles, Yoga  3. Yoga

Really, Ciwt can't think of a thing to write about.  

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Winner Already(?)! --- Days 9/233 & 234

Walk: 1. Pickleball and hood  2. Hood

Distance:  1. 4 miles, 90 minutes pickleball, small yoga  2.  4 miles

Weeks before the true holidays, but Ciwt is thinking she's already found the winner of her Annual Holiday Decoration Contest.

If nothing else, this house will win for most effort. And courage!  When Ciwt walked by the other day she saw many workers resting from scaling scary heights and dragging the heavy wooden scenes and snowflakes into place.  They weren't in a holiday frame of mind. 


Monday, December 7, 2020

Death Valley Sunset --- Day 9/232


Walk: Hood 

Distance: 4 miles, Yoga

Paul Hosemann, Sunset, Thanksgiving, Death Valley

Detail, enlarged

CIWT's favorite FGP (Friend's Grandson Photographer) has done it again!  The original must be so stirring.

Also see CIWT Day 7/134 and CIWT Days 9/103, 104 for more of Paul's work

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Mostly Orange Books --- Days 9/230 and 231

 Walk: Hood both days                                                                                                                                     Distance: 4 miles both days

It's the time year for book lists so Ciwt thought she's offer up a few she enjoyed.  

Friday, December 4, 2020

A Picture is Worth...... --- Day 9/229

 Walk: Pickleball                                                                                                                            Distance: 4 miles, 2 hours pickle, Yoga

Ciwt vividly remembers driving her yellow Monza with the radio on when she first heard American Pie.  She was stunned and needed to pull over to the side of the road to take it in.  The innocent 50's, Don McLean's prescient, poetic lament was sad and brilliant.  The innocent 50's, the times of Ciwt's childhood were over, just like that.   

There have been a few other direct communications between artist and Ciwt, Think Matisse's Dance II .  They always feel like special gifts of human understanding, being truly seen.  They reach right in and capture something deep and pure in Ciwt.  And myriad others!  Everyone has those arias, poems, paintings, photos that articulated some unspoken and intensely personal feeling. 

Yesterday's arrival of The New Yorker was one of those gift moments.  Surely we all have a fuzzy feeling of how the pandemic is playing out for us.  The non-existant attention span, the Amazon orders andarrivals, strange food and drink appetites, sanitizer, non-latex gloves, cats (hair and food), soft clothes of some casual sort, random housecleaning.  And in the midst of this quiet, shambled home trauma, we put on a together face in carefully rigged light for business and book group meetings, cocktail parties or friends, many not seen since college.

All the while we're thinking "I could never explain it."  You and your friends try but never quite get there, finally shrugging "You know.  Yeah...."  "Uh huh...."  

Now Adrian Tomine has completely, totally nailed it for so many of us. His December 7 New Yorker cover, titled Love Life, captures the 'reality behind the home web cam ' and immediately went viral (and onto CIWT).  People say they 'feel seen,' 'identify to an uncomfortable degree,' 'have all experienced this to some degree in 2020," "Perfection!"  And Ciwt agrees with all of them.  

Bittersweet genius.


Thursday, December 3, 2020

More Gusto Please --- Days 9/227 & 228

 Walk: 1. LP Nails, T. Joe's  2. Mountain Lake                                                                                   Distance: 1. 3.8 miles, T. Joe's Yoga  2. 4 miles, yoga

Ciwt is not optimistic about this year's Holiday Decoration contest.  Any year out here actually.  San Franciscans seem to put more gusto into Halloween and less into the November-December holidays.

But, she may end up being happily surprised.