Tuesday, April 13, 2021

They Rock --- Day 9/348

Walk: Presidio

Distance: 4.3 miles, small yoga

Right by the Blue tree is this small rock garden some little person (Ciwt thinks it's a girl) is creating one by one..

Monday, April 12, 2021

Not Easy Being Blue --- Day 9/347

Walk: Presidio

Distance: 4 miles, small yoga (with no twists)


There has come into bloom a small tree with the prettiest, softest, most delicately scented blossoms that stuns Ciwt every time she passes it on the way to Presidio pickleball.  It came alive about a month ago, and makes her stop and look every time.

The magnet is that blue color.  There are just so few blue flowers and shrubs she encounters - which she thought might be unique to Northern California.  But it turns out there are very few blue flowers or shrubs anywhere in the world.  According to biological scientists it's a color that is 'infrequent in nature' with less that 10 percent of all species of flowering plants producing blue flowers.

Why? Ciwt wondered.  Again a biologist was there to answer: There is no true blue pigment in plants, so plants don't have a direct way of making a blue color.  In order to do so a few species of flowering plants and trees have 'figured out' (Ciwt's non-tech term) how to go through complicated alterations, and one of these is Ciwt's spectacular tree, the Ceanothus Pacific Blue, which should be capturing her heart for another month or so.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Ruination to a Fare The Well --- Day 9/346

Walk: No, Sunday rest and finishing documentary stream

Distance: n/a

For Ciwt four of the six hours or two of the three episodes of  PBS's Hemingway documentary were unnecessary downers.  By the end of Episode One - which she definitely recomments -  we know where Hemingway got his writing style, that he came home from his hellish WW I experiences physically and mentally broken and began both his macho posturing and alcoholic drinking.  We know about his years in Paris, his behavior patterns with his serial wives, his lying and that he was already the most famous and best writer of the early and perhaps mid-twentieth century.  He had 'rearranged the furniture of writing' as the great writer himself, Tobias Wolff, put it.  We know he had had three serious concussions, couldn't be alone,was a daily drunk, was narcissistc and obsessed with death, was brutal and unreliable in and out of  marriage - and was internationally famous.

Learning all that with old clips of the people and places of  his childhood and handsome young adulthood along with those of Paris in the Twenties is stimulating, fascinating, visually alive.  But by Episode Two, Hemingway is in his thirties and the effects of his mental and physical illnesses - including alcoholism - have gained on him and keep growing.   And from then on we learn nothing new really.  It's Hemingway being brutal here and challenging someone to a boxing match there, and roughing up his wives, and going to bullfights and aimlessly, drunkenly carousing, savaging his friends and people who had helped him in print.  Getting more concussions, killing animals and deep sea fish.  A huge macho display captured around the world in magazines and news reels.  And producing mostly great literature. 

By Episode Three, there he is again but worse, just a shell.  Now the abuse is physical with the wives, the looks and health are gone, the writing is a grind some of it not so good, one of it - The Old Man and the Sea - outstanding.  But what are we viewers gaining from watching this empty, highly publicized, predictable tragedy?  It's just terribly sad, depressing, the man is very very sick and has been for decades.  Do we need hours of seeing the destruction play out?  

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Cat Guys --- Days 9/343, 344 & 345

 Walk: 1. Fillmore for lunch with friend (imagine that)  2. Hood errands 3. Hood 

Distance: 1. 2 miles   2. 4.5 miles  3. 3.5 miles, random stretches and slight yoga poses daily

So, the 1920's, 30's, 40's  and Paris are alive and well in Ciwt's cultural considerations.  The Calder-Picasso  Show at our de Young Museum has now been joined by Ken Burns' PBS documentary on Hemingway.  And Ciwt is busy taking that in.  Stay tuned for her thoughts, but for now who knew Hemingway was a cat person?   Not Ciwt.

He's in good company 🐈




And many more........................................


Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Don't Twist Either --- Day 9/342

Walk: Golden Gate Park

Distance: 3.8 miles

While her back heals, Ciwt isn't allowed to do any twisting.

So guess she'll just have to stick with these straight ahead movements for a while.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Don't Smile! --- Days 9/340 & 341

Walk: 1. Hood  2. Union Square Chiropractor

Distance: 1. 4 miles  2. 1.5 miles

So, the verdict on Ciwt's back pain is in: iliolumbar ligament tear requring at least a month of detoxing from pickleball.  And of the many interesting things she has been doing with her excess energy (like filling out and paying her taxes), Ciwt renewed her passport.  And that meant renewing her passport photo.  

Ten years ago when Ciwt was way too limber for any back tear, she was allowed to smile and look likeable for her photo.  But now, when she is ten years older, no smiling allowed according the nice young Walgreens counter worker/photographer.  Oh dear, whoever has to look at it might be in for a fright.  Then again, maybe that will be nobody, because she only used her old one for one trip to Paris in ten years.  

But! She has been watching Rick Steves before Jeopardy every evening during this covid year, so she considers herself quite the international woman at this point.  

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Street Easter --- Day 9/339

Walk: Hood

Distance: 4 miles, a little stretching (which hopefully will help - unlike yesterday's stretches 😢)

Their house

Across the Street from their house

Ciwt walked over their way this Easter, and yes!  No matter what the holiday, these San Francisco fellow travelers provide a two-part festive celebration for the delight of all passersby.  Happy Easter.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Happy Hunting --- Day 9/338

Walk:  No, couldn't figure out what to do today

Distance: n/a, yoga

Peter Carl Faberge (supervisor), Imperial Coronation Egg, 1897, to commemoriate Tsarina, Empress Alex Fyodorovna

Easter season puts Ciwt in mind of the splendid "Imperial" eggs created by the jewelry firm House of Faberge in Saint Petersburg, Russia between 1885 and 1917  Fifty-two of these most special Imperial ones were made (forty-six survive) under the supervision of Peter Carl Faberge specifically for the Russian Tsars Alexander III and Nicholas II.  They were Easter gifts for their wives and mothers, and it is said not even the Tsars knew what form these elaborate bejeweled eggs would take - only that they would be unique and contain a surprise like the exquisite gold and enamel chariot above.

On their Easter egg hunt tomorrow some child or lucky lady may find an egg with the Faberge name on it.  It might even be heirloom quality.  But it won't be one of the orignial - and only - 69 eggs fabricated in Russia. Fifty-seven known ones survive and are held in museums and the collections of immensely wealthy individuals or foundations.  After they were created came the Russian Revolution, the nationalization of the Faberge workshop and the departure of the Faberge family from Russia in 1918.

What these hunters may find lying in the grass is an egg by the several companies who have since acquired the Faberge trademark.  And they be very fortunate campers because the quality of these eggs can be quite high, especially those made by the Victor Mayer Jewelry Company from 1998 - 2009.  Plus they are very pretty, and won't break as easily as real eggs.  Happy Hunting.

Friday, April 2, 2021

More Time for Chores --- Days 9/336 & 337

Walk: 1. Union Square 2. Hood

Distance: 1. 3.5 miles, Yoga for Back 2. 3 miles, Yoga

Oh joy, Ciwt's back strain recovery has given her so  much more time for household chores.....

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Cool Cats --- Day 9/340

Walk: Short Hood 

Distance: 2 miles, yoga stretches for back

Nicolas de Stael (French, born in Russia, 1914-55), Sicily (View of Agrigento), 1954, o/c

Not quite this blazing hot today, but warm enough for Ciwt's San Francisco cats to spend all day under the bed in the cool shade it offered. 

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Women's Backs --- Day 9/339

Walk: Hood for exercise

Distance: 3 (aching back) miles, yoga here and there

Berthe Morisot, Lady at her Toilette, 1875, 23 3/4 x 31 5/8", oil on canvas

So, it's been coming for a while, and finally Ciwt's back went a bit kaput on the pickleball court.  Ouch.

This put Ciwt in mind of the many, many works of art portraying women's backs, entire behinds really. And most were a (covert) form of erotica, often privately commissioned by men and kept in their own private quarters.

Even Berthe Morisot moves discretely into erotic territory with her Woman at her Toilette.  But Morisot, the first and only - save Mary Cassatt - original female Impressional artistalso lends the woman a sense of worldliness. She's feminine, but there's no languidity or passive allure here. This woman with her back to us seems modern, some one who moves among men, someone going knowingly about the business of putting herself together, perhaps to earn her own livelihood. 

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Taking Its Time --- Day 9/338

Walk: Brief Sunday Hood

Distance: 2 miles

de Young Museum, partial facade, March 2021

So the architect and designers of the latest de Young Museum chose to clad its facade in perforated, textured copper.  Ciwt thinks it is warm and quietly dramatic but that's not everyone's reaction.  For detractors, it was explained that soon the copper would turn the color of those palm fronds in front of the building and blend in gracefully with the grass and trees of surrrounding Golden Gate Park.

That was  sixteen years ago.  It's taking its time....

de Young Museum, 2021

Saturday, March 27, 2021

On the Way --- Days 9/336 & 337

 Walk: 1. de Young Museum (Calder-Picasso with friends/actual people interaction) 2. Presidio                             Pickleball, Hood

Distance; 1. 7.2 miles  2. 4.5 miles, a few games of pickle

Pretty soon this little girl or guy just down the block from Ciwt's home will be one of these (but in San Francisco of course):

And pretty soon the cherry trees around D.C.'s Tidal Basin will be in full bloom.  Three days ago the National Park Service reported the Yoshino cherry trees had entered phase four (out of six) of their blooming cyle.  So maybe even today.  You can't count on that, but you can count on the fact that there is enormous excitement around the NPS team.

And all over D.C. the annual Cherry Blossom Festival will soon begin.  The first Festival was in 1913 to commemorate the one year anniversary of Japan's gift of more than 3,000 trees to the United States.  Now, to honor the offering of good will and the renewal of spring the Festival continues when the trees bloom each spring.

Similar to D.C. Japan has a yearly flower-viewing celebration, hanami, a tradition that is over a thousand years old.  There cherry blossoms are especially meaningful.  Their short, but brilliant blooming season symbolizes the fragility and the beauty of life.  Additionally, cherry blossoms have long held an association with Japanese nationalism. A single fallen blossom symbolizes the brave sacrificial act of a fallen samurai warrior.

In either country this short time of feasts, games, celebrations, commemorations and comings together is breathtakingly gorgeous.

Sakura Tunnel, Tokyo, Japan

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Tulips Gone Wild --- Day 9/335

Walk: Nails

Distance: 1/5 miles, Small yoga

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Ooops --- Day 9/336

Walk: Routine Bone Scan (annals of aging)

Distance: 5 miles

So, Ciwt was sooo busy (ha!) she forgot to publish her CIWT Day 9/333 about an art collector extraordinaire..  It's there now and she thinks she remembers basing the following post on it in case you were confused by Ciwt's confusion. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Already?! --- Day 9/335

Walk: Goldman Tennis Center GG Park

Distance: 2 miles, 90 minutes pickle, stretching

Rene Magritte, Spring, 1965, oil on canvas

Oh my goodness, it's spring already!   Has been in the Northern Hemisphere for three days.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Courage of the Collector --- Day 9/334

Walk: Presido Pickleball

Distance: 2.5 miles, 90 minutes pickle, Yoga

Henri Matisse, La Dance, 1910, oil on canvas, 8'6" x 12' 10"

Yesterday Ciwt referred to the "scary thresholds" collectors who endeavor to assemble an important art collection are often called on to cross.  Availability of a pivotal and essential work is one.  The collector has no idea when such an offering might be made or what their financial circumstances might be at that time.  They must act quickly, sometimes facing the prospect of selling a beloved and rare work to raise funds, as was the case with Jacques Doucet who needed to sell Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon to raise the purchase price of van Gogh's Irises.  

There's also the matter of authenticity.  One Texas oilman was aghast to learn that 41 of the 59 'grand master' paintings he had acquired were fakes, and his stituation is far from unique through history.

In some ways, particularly in more socially restrictive societies, the scariest threshold is across norms of public opinion. No one knew this better than THE premiere collector of early modern art, the Russian businessman, Sergei Schchukin.  

Schuchukin wasn't concerned about forgeries because he usually dealt directly with the artists as he did when he commissioned Henri Matisse to paint enormous panels for the main staircase entrance to his Moscow mansion. But, bold as he was, he did have to contend with the highly morally restrictive social norms of Russian society.  Accordingly, when he saw Matisse's first drawings of naked dancers, the Count responded "I cannot at this time place nudes in my staircase...(please) manage to show the same round danse but with the girls in dresses."  After several back and forths about how to avoid nudes, he finally wrote Matisse a letter saying "...your panel of La Danse is so noble that I have decided to fly in the face of bourgeois opinion and place a subject with 'nudes' over my staircase..."

But then a few months later Schuchukin travelled to Paris to see the panel in person.  Just before his arrival, Matisse had entered it in the Salon d"Automne and Paris was abuzz with the scandal it caused.  One art critic even suggested that Matisse was a victim of mental illness.  Stunned speechless when he saw the painting and then (understandably) destablized by reading the reviews, Schchukin canceled the commission.

The demoralizing effects on Matisse of this cancelation along with the scathing reviews threatened to derail the career of one of the most important of all modern artists.  Luckily, and bravely, Schchukin reconsidered during his two day trip back to Moscow and cabled Matisse to send Danse with all speed.
A few days later he wrote Matisse a letter which included "...I've thought things over and I'm ashamed of my weakness and lack of courage.  One should never flee the battlefield without putting a fight.  For that reason I have decided to hang your panels.  People may shout and laugh, but since I'm convinced that your path is the right one, perhaps time will be my ally and I shall claim victory in the end."

About that last, time has indeed been the collector and artist's ally: La Danse is commonly recognized as a key point in Matisse's career and in the development of all of modern painting.

Dimitry Meinikov, Sergei Ivanovich Shchukin (1854-1936), 1915

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Collector Extraordinaire --- Day 9/333

Walk: Joe's and Presidio Pickleball (yes)

Distance: 4.5 miles, 90 minutes pickle, general stretching

In just a matter of a few years, from this:

To this:

Or, better yet in the same time frame, from this:
to this:

You know how you can live with things in your home looking one way for years, and then realize, oh, if you just move the sofa there and that table across the room, the flow will work much better.  Changes in taste, if they come at all, take most people many years.  And this in a fluid society where changes are accepted - even to be expected.

Now, take your mind to Paris at the end of the 1800's.  Socially acceptable decor was perhaps less rigid than in previous times,  but Parisians still refused to buy 'upstart' Impressionist art and fussy, over-crowded and formal was still the way to go.  Except for a few with discerning eyes and the courage to step forward into modernity, the most remarkable of whom was fashion designer, art collector, Jacques Doucet (1853-1929).  

That's his living room at top, the very epitome of Parisian interior decorating and likely he envy of most of Doucet's visitors.  Who knows what they thought a few years later when they saw his art nouveau studio with a 'primitive' Rouseau painting above the couch, a large Picasso cubist painting on the wall, right near a Modigliani portrait of a woman in a pink blouse.  Doucet could not have gotten more shockingly modern - and, as art history played out, more brilliantly right on.

Actually you could have, and Doucet did.  He was the first buyer of one of - perhaps the - the most famous paintings in all early modern art, Pablo Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon pictured above.
Demoiselles was so ahead of its time and so defiant of all art traditions that Picasso did not present it to the public for nearly nine years after it was painted.  And during that time, he invited only a few trusted and art savvy individuals to look at it.  Even Matisse, the star of the Parisian avant garde at the time, was appalled enough to warn Picasso to keep it from the public.  So, how did Doucet react?  He bought the painting!

In terms of being tuned in and able to discern greatness, this is astounding.  As were others of Doucet's 
purchases, including:  Irises by Vincent Van Gogh (this at a time when Nobody would buy a Van Gogh), 

The Circus by Georges Seurat ,

On the Beach by Edouard Manet 

and many more that now grace the walls of museums such as the Getty, the d'Orsay and the Musee Angladon in Avignon which houses the many notable works still in Doucet's collection and inherited by its founders. 

Pioneer of haute couture, informed amateur artist, patron of artists, writer and collector extraordaire, Jacques Doucet had an eye and a purse for masterpieces from the Renaissance to the now greatest masters of the early 20th century.  This without art advisors and dealers who usually guide most important art collectors and help them over the many frightening thresholds encountered while assembling a great art collection.  To Ciwt this is truly awesome.


Saturday, March 20, 2021

Fabric Language --- Day 9/333

Walk: M. Stone's for sushi
Distance: 1.8 miles

Henri Matisse, Still Life with Blue Tablecloth 1909 oil on canvas, 34-5/8 x 46-1/2 inches The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg 

Ahhhh, back to Ciwt's great art love, Henri Matisse, and his beloved - and huge - collection of fabrics and textiles.  

He was besotted with each one of them, kept them close and displayed them all over his studios and homes.  He was a descendant of generations of weavers and raised among weavers in Bohan-en-Vermandois, which in the 1880's and 90's was a production center of fancy silks and major supplier to the fashion houses of Paris.  Bohain was a hard working, competitive environment where innovations of pattern, design and color were matters of pride and survival. 

Matisse took in these energies deeply.  So deeply, that he essentially invented a new painterly "language of decoration."  In this radical new tongue Matisse transformed the patterns and colors of flat fabrics of all types far beyond their reality and into new boundless, harmonious, joyful entities.

One piece of printed cloth he used reguarly in his paintings was a blue on white length he had spotted in a junk shope window and immediately got off the bus he was riding to purchase.  This is what it actually looks like 

and the painting above is what Matisse's imagination, skills, inventiveness and daring transformed it into.


Friday, March 19, 2021

Exercise Plus Annoyance --- Day 9/332

Walk: Presidio Pickleball

Distance: 4 miles, 80 minutes pickle

Might be time for Ciwt to say goodbye to pickleball.  So much etiquette stuff along with the exercise.

Yes, yes, you've heard this before from Ciwt.......

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Master of So Much --- Day 9/331

Walk: No, Rainy Day😊 (we need it)

Distance: n/a, yoga

Pablo Picasso 1-4* (partial views)

So, CIWT readers might remember that Ciwt happens to be taking a sort of symposium on Picasso at the same time a Calder-Picasso show is on exhibit at our de Young Museum.  If they have exceptional memories they might remember that Ciwt's first modern art love was Picasso about whose Guernica she did her senior thesis. 5* It has been nice to be remnded of what her initial excitement was all about.

Art historians, museums and art books usually break his numerous painting styles into periods: Boy Genius realist, Blue Period, Rose Period, African Period, Cubist, Neo-classical, Surrealist to most.  This gives the impression that in each period Picasso concentrated on a certain style, stopped that style and then went on to another.  You might not be attracted to any of them, but the immense variety of styles he mastered, many totally invented by him, is in itself a wonder and a reason he is regarded as a genius.  Beyond that is the remarkable fact that in a single year he might produce a masterpiece in one style one day and in another style the next (or on the same day).  And some of those might be sculptures, or prints in a variety of techniques, stage design, ceramics, even poetry and writing.  

Such was his near endless talent and prolific artistic virtuosity.  Unique virtuosity.  Throughout an artist's lifetime, changes in approach, subject matter and style are to be expected.  But the extent to which Picasso's style changed in each discipline, particularly painting stands alone among the history of artists.

1. The Alter Boy, 1896

2. The Old Guitarist, ca. 1903-1904

3. Girl with a Mandolin, 1910

4. Untitled (from Musee Picasso, Paris), ca. 1927

5. Guernica, 1937

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Happy Saint Patrick's Day --- Day 9/330

Walk: Very short, Trapped by Turbo Tax

Distance: So little, Yoga

Ciwt is wearing green today even though she's not Irish.  

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

It Was Too In! --- Days 9/328 & 329

Walk: 1. Monday errands  2. Hood & Presidio Pickleball

Distance: 1. 3.5 miles, Yoga  2. 5.5 miles, 90 minutes pickle

Discussing Pickleball Line Calls

Sunday, March 14, 2021

First Morning --- Day 327

 Walk: Hood and Presidio Pickleball

Distance: 4.3 miles, 90 minutes pickle

So dark this first morning of Daylight Savings.  Were all your clocks set?

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Young and Old Master --- Day 9/326

Walk: No (again!)

Distance: n/a, Yoga

Michelangelo age 15-16, Madonna of the Steps, 1490-1492, bronze.  First sculpted work.  Created while studying in the household of the Medicis in Florence.  The piece's sensitivity and multi-dimensionality was already ahead of the accepted practice of the day. 

"Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to release it"  

"I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set it free."

~ Michelangelo (Italian, 1475-1564)

Leaving the 1900's of Calder and Picasso, both of whom are celebrated for their sculptures, Ciwt's thoughts move to arguably (if anybody actually would) the greatest sculptor who ever lived: Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, best known simply as Michelangelo.  And to a few things Ciwt learned about him recently.  

First, biographically, she didn't know that he grew up, after the death of his mother, with his nanny and her husband who was a stone cutter.  Or that Michelangelo's father owned a marble quarry so that the young boy spent a great deal of time watching stone being quarried and carved as well as acquiring hands-on experience with the stone at an early age.  He also sought out the company of significant artists and worked in his early teens as an apprentice to one of the master painters who had been hired by the Vatican to decorate the walls of the Sistine Chapel.

Second, in terms of his technique.  Like many people Ciwt is familiar with the two famous quotes from Michelangelo above.  Because of them she has carried an image of the sculptor standing in front of a block of marble and artfully chipping away until he began to sense a presence inside.  And then gradually, carefully, laborously continuing until, OMG, David!  Or, secondarily, that Michelangelo looked at a block of marble, sensed what figure was in it, and carved away "until he set it free." In both cases, the figure inside would have been a revelation to Michelangelo.

Turns out, yes, Michelangelo saw sculpture as the art of taking away to bring the form below into existance. But, no, the look of the form was not a surprise to him. Even before and certainly in the multi year process of  actually carving he produced detailed sketches -  over 900 of them remain.  The drawings are imbued with technical skill but, beyond that, with his own spiritual passion and desire to work with the marble to bring the soul of his subject to life. 

No higher goals for himself can be imagined, and the wonder is that he actually achieved them - at an early age.  During his twenties! he produced two of the world's greatest sculptural masterpieces, Pieta and David.  At the time the life and emotion he had brought to the grieving mother and the depiction of the human form he achieved with David were beyond ground breaking, beyond a revelation.  Nearly 450 years after his death in 1564 his work is as wondrous as it was at the time, remains ground breaking and is still the gold standard sculptors aim for.

Micheangelo, Pieta, 1498-99, Carrara marble

and then the very next year he began David

Michelangelo, David, 1501-1504, Marble

Friday, March 12, 2021

Tulip Swoon Begins --- Day 9/324 & 5

Walk: 1. Hood  2. No

Distance: 1. 3.5 miles, Yoga  2. n/a

Jan Philip van Thielen (Dutch), Tulips, Yellow and Pink Roses in a Glass, 17th c., oil on canvas

Tulips, Ciwt's favorite, are starting to show up at Trader Joe's!  Lovely to see in any case and interesting since she is reading about the Dutch beginnings of New York City as tulipmania was capturing them back home.

The Dutch Masters seemed to favor the multi-colored, 'wild' Parrot Tulips while Ciwt prefers the single color ones.  But any tulip is just wonderful to her.