Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Gold Tinder --- Days 9/166 & 167

Walk: 1. No?  (Can't remember; preoccupied with fire up North)  2. Presidio and Hood
Distance: 1. pedometer says 0 .7 miles and a little yoga  2. 5.5 miles, yoga

In case any Ciwt readers wonder how our California fires can be so explosive and extensive, this is how much of the state looks by the end of July each year.  Wooded areas are equally dry.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

A Box Too Small --- Day 9/164 & 165

Walk: 1. Presidio Pickleball   2. Presidio Pickleball                                                                                        Distance: 1. 2.5 miles, 1 hour pickle, yoga stretch  2. 2.5 miles, 1 hour scorching hot pickleball, stretch

Another heat wave (and fire alert).  If only there was more room in that shady box Ciwt's cat found.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Not Your Old-Timey Zoo --- Day 9/163

 Walk: San Francisco Zoo                                                                                                                               Distance:  3.5 miles, small yoga stretch

So, the last time Ciwt was at the San Francisco Zoo was when she went to see Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing, the Pandas visiting from the Washington Zoo (via a gift to the U.S. from China).  The bears were a national sensation when they arrived in the States in 1972 and equally so when they toured the West Coast in 1984 and were seen by millions including Ciwt.  

Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing

The Pandas were just darling but the viewing (and the zoo) left much to be desired.  Ciwt remembers standing in a long line on steaming concrete  with no shade in the midst of a heat wave.  Other than the bears, it was a downer - as were the few zoo visits in other cities she had experienced before then.  You know - unhappy looking animals in small, barish cages.  Sad.

Well, not so any more!  She was invited by a Zoo Docent and donor friend for an update, and Wow!  Turns out zoos are on the forefront of the current conservation movement, and it shows.  Besides on-going education programs, and numerous behind the scenes advancements, the 'new' SF Zoo is huge, with trees and landscaped gardens, signage and walking paths galore.  Oh, and animals.  More than you can imagine in environments that duplicate their home territories and give them abundant space, indoor and out, to roam, bathe, frolic, leap, whatever they naturally do.  They are clearly cared for and seem content, so it is interesting, educational and a pleasure to see them.  

One of three beautiful, happy seeming SF Zoo Siberian tigers (whose name Ciwt has forgotten)

And all that will only increase as more funds and energy are poured into zoos.  So, if you have a zoo near you you haven't visited in a while, Ciwt thinks you might enjoy a trip.  

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Home and Reading --- Day 9/162

 Walk: Hood                                                                                                                                                       Distance: 4.4 miles, Yoga stretch

The back side of Ciwt's little local library looked so peaceful today.  Deserted/Closed but peaceful.  She could see some of the books on shelves through the windows.  It was a nice reminder of how calm she can feel just sitting at home, maybe on her deck, reading.  

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Ciwt Rides a Bus and Goes to a Museum --- Day 9/161

Walk: de Young Museum                                                                                                                              Distance: 6 miles, Yoga

Line for Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving

As we all know, everyday happenings are now major events, so Ciwt felt very adventurous when she got onto the 1 California bus and rode part way (she walked the rest of course) to the de Young Museum's Frida Kahlo show.  

It was hung in early March and had already been sold out so anticipation was high for huge attendance and rave critical reviews.  And then.... the doors were closed for six months and nobody got a single glance at it except the security guards and a few museum personnel.  Until yesterday when the doors reopened. 

Once again the show is sold out, but this time to a very limited number of visitors with restrictive advance reservations, masked and standing 6 feet apart.  Well,  the best laid plans.....Six feet apart as they waited to go in as you can see above.  But, the show itself has many cramped alcoves with small pictures where there is no way you could keep that 6' distance even if you tried.  And, predictably,  many visitors got caught up in the photographs and jewelry and talking to their friends through masks, and forgot to try.

Ciwt walked right on by those tiny alcoves and pictures and letter scraps and whatever was in them.  She'll buy the book or something and read it in health at home.  But luckily there were several wide open stretches which upended Ciwt's understanding of Kahlo.  One of them was a huge wall with a 1941 home movie of Frida and Diego Rivera.  As is well known, Rivera was her husband and international sensation and saga in and of himself.  In most portrayals - paintings, photographs, news clips - he towers over or beside her and is the focus, the star. Frida looks tiny and more or less simply decorative.

But not so in the show's movie - not at all.  It is a real life reversal of sorts.  She is still tiny and decorative but clearly a powerful woman in her own right and very much Rivera's equal.  He doesn't have the star swagger and simply sits with her, a middle aged man in wire rim glasses.  He could be a professor at Columbia University or somewhere.  And, whatever they are doing, she is clearly in charge and he clearly admires and is challenged by her.  You could even say he is minding her.  

Ciwt may have read in books that Kahlo was a strong person and presence to be reckoned with, but Rivera has gotten so much attention over the years and there has been so much emphasis on Kahlo's illnesses and injuries, it took this short film of them together for Ciwt to grasp how equal they really were, as artists and individuals. 

After the movie, the show opened to a large room filled with mannequins dressed in some of  Kahlo's outfits. Costumes really.  If you like fashion - which Ciwt does - seeing these creative and colorful 'authentic' Mexican outfits is a treat.  But the treat is both enhanced and altered by understanding that Kahlo was wearing them not in old timey Mexico but in places like New York City, Paris, San Francisco.  It was the early 20th century; even in Mexico most women had long since stopped dressing ethnically and were wearing the latest styles.  Kahlo would have been a powerful, regal, awesome person walking among them.  Your instinct would have been to stand back in admiration.

It is a rich show, and others may have been struck by different things than Ciwt.  But she bets most of the viewers came away from 'Appearances Can Be Deceiving' feeling the show lifts Frida Kahlo right up and (finally) does her justice as the complex, strong-minded, creative, compelling person she was. Plus it gave Ciwt an opportunity to ride a bus and go to a museum - finally!

Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving
September 25, 2020 - February, 7, 2021
de Young museum

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Watching the Bison Roam --- Days 9/159 and 160

Walk: 1. Presidio  2. Hood                                                                                                                            Distance:  1. 4 miles, 1 hour pickleball (again), Yoga stretch  2. 4 miles, small stretch

So, did you know there are buffalo, ooops bison*, at Golden Gate Park?  As a tribute to the legendaryWild West, first one was brought to San Francisco in 1891 and he?/she? was soon joined by bison from public and private herds. 

Today we have 10 calmly roaming the huge field toward the middle of the park.  Over the years the  males presented the Park rangers with "teaching moments"- like when one tried to maul a policeman on horseback - so our heard is all female.   Bailey, Betsy, Buttercup, Bambi and Bellatrix are the long-time members and five new (unnamed) yearlings were added recently as part of the park's 150th anniversary celebration.  

You can watch them like Ciwt was the other day on  a new Bison Cam at 

*Actually, in spite of the Home of the Range lyrics, no buffalo ever roamed the U.S. ranges because they are indigenous to South Asia (water buffalo) and Africa (Cape buffalo).  The critters in North America and parts of Europe are bison.  Among the differences between the animals is beards; bison have thick ones while buffalo are beardless.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Back on the Courts (after a fashion) --- Day 9/158

Walk: Pickleball, T. Joe's                                                                                                                              Distance:  3 miles, 1 hour pathetic pickleball

Young Totally Focused Ciwt Who Easily Trounced Her Tennis Opponents with her Powerful Shots 

Ciwt on the Pickleball Court Today.  "Harder?  What do you mean harder?"

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Shaggy Trail Story --- Day 9/157

 Walk: Presidio   Distance: 5 Miles, Yoga

"I wrote you a note...."

"Dragonfly found the Note...."

"Mouse found the Note.  She made a sunhat and worked in her garden all day....."

Since kids can't be in school, school has come to them outdoors and there are many cute teaching moments along some of the San Francisco trails.  This is just part of the "I Found a Note..." saga.  Ciwt had to take another path so sh didn't see the ending; Hope mouse doesn't get eaten by a coyote or something...

Friday, September 18, 2020

R.B.G. --- Day 9/156

 Walk: Hood                Distance: Just a few blocks, Pedal, Yoga

In memory of an extraordinary legal mind and an exceptional woman.  Godspeed.  Your work will live on.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

It's Good to Be Green --- Day 9/155

 Walk: Carpet Contractors      Distance: 2 miles, Sweep & Mop Horribly Dirty Entryway, Yoga

San Francisco Air Quality Reading, 7:33 a.m.

Now, This is more like it!   

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Day at the Car Wash --- Days 153 and 154


Walk: 1. No, trapped by wet carpets after cleaning  2. Hood, Nails!!, Car Wash    Distance: 1. Yoga, Pedal  2. 3 miles, Yoga

Took 3/4 hour to get here from around the block

Oh no, a line crasher

Oh well, Ciwt is enjoying our wonderful Classical station 𝅘𝅥𝅲

Next in line.  Finally!

Normally Ciwt isn't a line waiter.  Probably most of  these other drivers aren't either.  However, we value the paint on our cars enough to do it.  Turns out, once it meets fog, the 'cinder snow' from our wildfires comes to life and positively thrives on clear coat eating right through it into the paint underneath.

Monday, September 14, 2020

School Friend --- Day 9/152

 Walk: Hood  ---    Distance:  Just a smoky mile, sweep filthy steps and outside landings, Yoga

First Day of School for Friend's Granddaugher and new Kitten

Sad she can't be with her friends, but at least she has her new kitten friend.  He looks happy about distance learning.   So cute, Ciwt just had to share.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Nothin' But Grey Skies --- Day 9/151

Walk:  No, more Haz Air
Distance: 0, heavy vacuuming, Yoga

Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) , Number 19, 1954, 30 7/8" x 22 5/8," Paint dripped on canvas.

Our smoky San Francisco skies put Ciwt in mind of Jackson Pollock's drip paintings. The one above is actually a bit unusual because he signed it upper left as a vertical and it is more 'conveniently' sized than his enormous, wall sized canvases.  But, in May 2013, those things didn't stop someone from buying Number 19 for $58,363,750 at a Christie's auction.

Pollock was famous in his lifetime especially during his legendary burst of creativity from 1947 - 1951 when he had several gallery shows and countless magazine articles written about him.  Fame though did not equate with agreement among critics and the general public about the quality of his art.  Time dubbed  him "Jack the Dripper" while the preeminent critic of the era, Clement Greenberg, championed Pollock so actively he actually organized his first gallery show (which of course got rave reviews).  This wide variety in people's opinions about his art continues to this day and Ciwt guesses you already have your own, if you've thought of Pollock at all.  

Far be it from Ciwt to try to change those. But, if you were here, she's betting we'd agree Pollock's Number 19 is a pretty good likeness of the West Coast sky these days.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Car Contest --- Days 9/149 & 150

Walk: 1. No, once again Super Haz Air  2. Hood 'Dirtiest Car Contest'
Distance: 1. Yoga  2. 1.6 miles, Yoga

Can you spot the thing all these cars have in common?

If you answered "Dirt," you'd be right.  And if you said "Cinders and Ash," you would be the grand winner.

As she stepped out into the now Vancouver, BC to Tijuana officially "unhealthy" to "very unhealthy" air today, Ciwt felt grit crunching under her shoes.  Then she noticed cars in her neighborhood.  One after another they were filthy.  It was like a Dirtiest Car Contest.  And really this was just the beginning.  Every surface of the city,  everywhere your eye, foot, hand lands there is a thick layer of black, grimey soot.  Inside and out because it slithers in through the most minute openings. Feels like nothing will ever be clean again.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

More Drama, Really? --- Day 9/148

Walk: No, Really Haz Air 💀 
Distance:  Yoga

Ciwt is looking forward to taking an online Contemporary Drama seminar with her friend.  The plays are here and waiting in in our now yellow light.  Fingers crossed for less real life drama.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Life on Mars --- Days 9/145, 146 & 147

Walks: 1. No (record breaking heat wave), 2. A Few Monday errands  3. GG Park (?)
Distance: 1. 0, small yoga, too heat stupid to write 2. 1 mile, yoga   3. 1 very obscure mile, yoga

San Francisco Today 7:15 a.m. , Noon, Until ?  

Ciwt's Hallway 9:00 a.m., 10:30 am, maybe all day; rest of her place equally dark

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Burgundy Air --- Day 9/144

Walk: Presidio
Distance: 3.6 miles, quiet yoga

Portrait of Hazardous Air

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Lift Those Books --- Day 9/143

Walk: No, now it's too hot 😑 (with haz air)
Distance: 0, restorative yoga

Ciwt thought a good way to get exercise on a heat wave day was arranging heavy art books 💪.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Water Lilies Of Course --- Day 9/142

Walk: Hood
Distance: 3.6, Yoga

Water Lilies and Japanese Bridge, 1899

One can't talk about Monet without talking about his 250 Water Lily paintings which depicted the flowers and surroundings of his home in Giverny.  These paintings and the gardens themselves were the primary focus of the last 30 years of his life.  He loved them both, and once said, "Aside from painting and gardening, I am good for nothing."  And he also felt he was a better gardener than he was a painter - which is saying a lot!

It is lucky Monet found painting (and selling) the lilies "an extension of my life" because they were also a huge extension of his budget.  He employed six full time gardeners, one of whose daily assignment was to dust and de-pollenate the pads and water so that the colorful light they reflected was pure.  And he actually had a branch of the Epte river diverted to his property to fill his lily pond.  This was much to the objections of his neighbors who were almost successful in preventing one of the most beautiful gardens and series of paintings ever created.

The paintings were beautiful, refined, sparklng, serene:

Water Lilies in the Evening, 1896

Until they became fragmented, garishly colored and, in Ciwt's estimation, just kind of weren't:

Water Lilies, 1922

The reason for the change was cataracts.  Monet began having visual problems as a result of them around 1912 and his palette became gloomier, murkier and less refined.

Japanese Footbridge, 1922

Ciwt considers Monet's last years sad because she feels he was.  Sad, lonely without his wife and son, depressed, possibly a bit demented and losing the greated gift he was graced with: his special eye sight.   But there are others who don't see it this way at all. Many of them love the later water lily paintings and some see them as early abstract art.  Oh well, such are the different visions of the art world.  Anyway, as she said a couple of CIWT's ago, she sometimes leans more toward the early Monets, particularly The Magpie .   

And really the last word belongs to Claude Monet: Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

To Capture Elusive Nature --- Day 9/141

Walk: Another Haz Air Day
Distance: 0, Yoga

I would like to paint the way a bird sings.  
                                               Claude Monet

Monet wasn't primarily  interested in painting the beauty of nature; he wasn't after a beautiful painting.  He was after nature itself, capturing it.   He didn't see a sea or a cliff or even a water lily.  He saw countless particles of myriad colors that comprise nature; a pink here, a deeper pink there, bright yellow, lilac, the glints of light and color that made up the whole. 

San Giorgio Maggiore at Dusk, 1908 

And it wasn't easy to see this way, to have this drive.  As he said, "Color is my daylong obsession, my joy, my torment."  In search of it he flirted with illness even death climbing rocks, standing in icy sea blasts of sea winds or snowstorms working as one of the first painters to ply his talents 'en plein air,' ie, outside - often all day.  

Cart on the Snow Covered Road with Saint-Simeon Farm, 1865

The obsession was there from the beginning and manifested most dramatically in his series paintings.  This practice of painting the same subject at different times of day began in earnest in the 1880's and continued until the end of his life in 1926.  His  most well known series included Mornings on the Seine, Houses of Parliament, Rouen Cathedral. 

But probably the most significant series for him during these years was his 25 painting Haystack series from 1990-1991.  Fifteen of these were the first to be exhibited as a series and were recognized as a breakthrough in French art.  But most importantly for Monet, they were immediately popular.  All the paintings in the show sold within days,  and this set him free - at last! - financially.  His reputation and prices rose steeply and he was able to buy outright the house and grounds at Giverny and start constructing a water lily pond.  (NB: He was finally past subsistence living, but never a man to deny himself, he contiued to live at an economic edge.  Another story in another CIWT).


No matter what his subject, Monet's underlying fascination in all his series was light, its intransience.  He needed at the deepest level to capture that.  Even knowing his quest was ultimately impossible, he would rise around 3:30 in the morning so as to see the first light, set up multiple canvases, then paint and move rapidly from one to another as the momentary light changed.  This process was repeated day after day whatever the weather, sometimes for weeks or months until he deemed each canvas as complete as possible.  As he said, "I'm never finished with my paintings; the further I get, the more I seek the impossible and the more powerless I feel."

Monet's series culminated of course in his great and most famous Water Lilies paintings.  More on these in a future CIWT.   

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Monet Before Monet --- Day 9/140

Walk: Day of Rest
Distance: small yoga

Before Monet became Claude Monet, the Father of Impressionism, around the age of 32, he spent much of his time called by his given name "Oscar," rebellious, impoverished and painting some of Ciwt's favorites of all his paintings.  Like:

The ENORMOUS (13' x 19/5) and unfinished Luncheon on the Grass, 1865
(This is a smaller version, probably a study, bought directly from Monet by the incredible Russian collector, Sergei, Shchukin, and now in the Pushkin Museum, Moscow

fragment from Luncheon on the Grass

And then when he couldn't finish Luncheon on the Grass in time for the Salon, he painted:
Camille, or Woman in a Green Dress, 1866
In Four days!  AND it was accepted by the picky, picky salon and received great admiration.  He was 26.

At his father's house and probably hoping (to no avail) for some financial help, he painted his father in his garden:

Adolphe Monet Reading in the Garden,  1866

And in the country, painting outdoors and freezing, he was the first painter to correctly capture snow:
The wonderful, wonderful The Magpie, 1868-1869

There are many more Ciwt favorites from Monet's early years, perhaps more of them than his  later Impressionist paintings so adored by the public.  Perhaps...