Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Loping Along --- Days 13/117 & 118

Lope: Crissy Field; de Young Museum

Distance: 4 miles; 7 miles

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Ciwt Can Walk Everywhere --- Day 13/116

Lope: Hood

Distance: 4.5 miles

Please, dear readers,  don't let all Ciwt's city walks confuse you.  CIWT began as a tribute to her daily long walks in the woods near her home with Zipper, her best friend and dog.  (See CIWT 1).  After those were walks in the rolling hills and arboretums of Connecticut, also long.  Probably the most glorious were the challenging hikes in the clear blue, windless skies (see Hemingway) of Idaho - up, down, around the Sawtooth Mountains.  Theoretically the most dangerous were the Marin hikes when she she moved back to California.  The trail system is extensive and beautifully maintained there, but she did many of her long hikes while the Trailside Killer was also walking along those trails. 

Time though moves on and with varying degrees of acceptance, Ciwt did as well.  To city life and her CIWT walks.  The trailheads in Marin gradually got so crowded, she often got there to find them filled.  Traffic increased along with bridge accidents, so a 90 minute hike could be three or four hours out of her day.  Yoga began calling.  And, of course, there was the matter of aging and less energy.

But, yes, she absolutely misses those nature adventures.  Deeply, at a soul level.  

City walks, though,  have many wonderful rewards of their own.  For one thing, they are right outside the door and constantly available.  For another, they can be measured and taken to destinations.  Ciwt appreciates that; no more walk, walk, walk just for the sake of walking.  But walking to get an errand done or to an appointment, all measurable by blocks at her chosen speed. Cities are stimulating. Nature can't paint an artwork, or build a building, or speak foreign languages, or do a lot of things that keeps Ciwt's mind alert, expanding.  She can go fast if she wants to; there are lots of runners on San Francisco streets.  And, realistically, San Francisco abounds with extensive and spectacular nature.  Think CrissyField, the Presidio, Golden Gate Park, just for openers.

A friend of Ciwt's lives on a reservoir, and another has a cabin in Wisconsin where she spends much of the year doing things like tagging wolves.  Ciwt herself once owned and lived in a log cabin.  She is happy for her friends living near nature and open to that possibility for herself if life brings it along.  For now she loves her city walks, CIWT and knows wherever her future lies, she will be walking to the best of her ability.

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Periwinkle *#* - Sigh --- Day 13/115

Walk: Hood errands

Distance: 5 miles

So there's a color that speaks deeply to and confounds Ciwt.  One of her favorite paintings couldn't have been made without it:

Claude Monet, The Magpie, 1868-1869, oil on canvas

Nor would those last fifteen minutes before the sun disappears from San Francisco sky be as stirring:

Even its name eludes her when she tries to remember it: periwinkle.  It's not purple, but it is.  Not blue, or is it?  Same with violet, lavender, even mauve.  

It's named after a pretty plant -  that can also be invasive and poisonous, especially to dogs. In some religious settings, the lovely bloom is known as the 'flower of death.'

Vinca minor

Artists, especially the Impressionists, used periwinkle for years in the 1800's, but the color's name didn't enter the language until the 1920's.  It comes from Old English, from the word perwince or maybe from the Latin, pervinca.  But then in Russia you also have a flower named pervinka.

Periwinkle has always been a plant first, whose flowers inspired the color.  Oh, yeh, there's a snail called the periwinkle snail but its slime is not a purple color and there is no indication where it got its name. And did Ciwt mention, there are white periwinkles?

On and on the color's elusiveness goes. It can be difficult to pin down, to name.   But subtle, complex periwinkle's effect is deep and strong: it evokes a sense of freshness, comfort, serenity, calmness, peace.

Claude Monet, Water Lilies, 1905

Claude Monet, Water Lilies, 1907

Friday, April 26, 2024

Now for the Babies --- Day 13/114

Walk: No, toooo windy!  Good day for reading though

Distance: n/a

A mother hen protects a group of chicks under her wings and body. 

Matthew Troke / iStockphoto / Getty

A loon chick catches a ride on the back of a parent, photographed in Canada. 

Pchoui /
 iStockphoto / Getty

A young wood duck leaps to the ground from its nest in a tree in southern Minnesota. 

Stan Tekiela / Getty

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Never Enough Birds for Ciwt (and CIWT) --- Day 13/113

Lope:  Hood 

Distance: 4 miles

A close view of an Atlantic puffin 

Nickjamesstock / iStockphoto / Getty

A close view of a peacock with its colorful tail feathers on display 

Raghu Ramaswamy / iStockphoto / Getty

A cassowary, photographed in Sydney, on November 26, 2014 

Steve Christo / Corbis / Getty

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Apes Can Ride --- Day 13/112

Walk: Presidio

Distance: 3 miles

Apes leaving the Golden Gate Bridge

So the rental bikers, dog walkers, runners, strollers and lopers like Ciwt were startled by their fellow Crissy Field promenaders today.  To say the least!  Bikers nearly fell over, some had to dismount from their bikes to be safe, dogs barked like mad, runners gave the horses a very wide berth.

San Franciscans are used to unusual sites on their streets, but apes on horses was (to Ciwt's knowledge) a first.  Clearly the apes can saddle and ride horses, but it looked like they can't write.  Or at least didn't bother to this afternoon so didn't carry or wear any identification.*

Free Apes Passing in front of Alcatraz along Crissy Field Beach

* According to SF Gate, the best guess is the apes were part of a publicity stunt for a new movie, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes.  Or maybe they were just enjoying a timelessly beautiful site.

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Soon to be Well Dressed Wanderer (Hopefully) --- Day 13/111

Walk/Lope: Patagonia, Athleta, Sports Basement

Distance: 5.3 miles

Time for some new hiking clothes and shoes. Time for going place to place to place to find and try them on.  Time to come home and crash from the effort.

Monday, April 22, 2024

Adorable Earth Day --- Days 13/109 & 110

Walk (Ciwt is mostly loping these days):  Hood, Retail

Distances: 4 miles, 1 mile

A rufous-crested coquette seeks out nectar from porterweed, photographed in Panama. 

Juan Carlos Vindas / Getty

Saturday, April 20, 2024

A Friend and Wonder --- Day 13/108

Walk: Hood

Distance: 5 miles

Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Mirrored Room - The Souls of  Millions of Light Years Away, 2013, wood, metal, glass, plastic, acrylic panel, rubber, LED lighting system, acrylic balls and water

A friend takes in Yayoi Kasuma's sparkling and infinite universe of love at LA's Broad Museum today.  

Friday, April 19, 2024

Things Happening All Over the Place --- Days 13/106 & 107

Walks: Hood

Distances: 3.5 & 4.2 mi

Ciwt's life has been pretty nuts and bolts these last couple of days.  So she's delighted to see in The Atlantic Photos of the Week that all sorts of important things were happeing all over the place.

Goslings took some of their first steps in Hamburg, Germany:

Michael Probst/AP

A squirrel with a peanut in its mouth just made it up a tree ahead of a dog in Toronto, Ontario, Canada:

Mert Alper Dervis / Anadolu / Getty

And lovely bluebells bloomed in the Hallerbos Forest, aka the"Blue Forest," in Brussels, Belgium:

Dursun Aydemir / Anadolu / Getty

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

New T$$th --- Day 13/105

Walk: Union Square Dentist

Distance: 5.5 miles

So, a little tooth gets wobbly, you go the dentist, they take a few xrays and then tell you you need a new tooth.  You come back a few times for various steps along the new tooth way, and they - looking a little concerned for you - say you don't have to pay yet.  Then just before the new tooth is to go in, you are sent the reason for the concerned looks: the "Treatment Plan."  Ie, the bill.....

Or at least that was the step by step route to the new tooth Ciwt had implanted yesterday.  Luckily the anesthesia took the edge off initialing pages and pages of  possible life threatening complications and paying off the 'Treatment Plan' in full, up front.  

PS - It's way in the back. She can't really see it, but knows it's there when she looks at her check book..  

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Complicated, Please --- Day 13/104

Walk: Hood

Distance: 4.5

So, when Ciwt was in Palm Springs, the sky was never not clear and blue, or the mountains blocked by haze.  Blades of perfectly green grass were mowed several times a day so they were always even with each other.  There were extra, open pickleball courts for all the snappily dressed players.  Everyone smiled, waved, said "Another perfect day in Paradise!" as they golf carted by.  Even the plane ride from San Francisco had been ripple free.

The flight back was extremely turbulent from takeoff to landing.  The skies were thick with mid grey clouds which reached almost to the ground.  As her plane descended, there were ripples of water on the windows by her seat.  And, sure enough, there was 'unseasonable' rain and cold on the ground.  People whisked by nearly knocking each other over at the airport, the highway to the city was frustrating to navigate, homeless people began appearing on the sidewalks. The complications of San Francisco city life began emerging.. 

And, happily, Ciwt began to feel the particular palpable energy of this fascinating, difficult, challenging, ever evolving, embarrassment of riches city that holds her heart.

Monday, April 15, 2024

Here's Looking at You --- Days 13/102 & 103

Walks: Hood      Presidio

Distances: 3 miles     4 miles

Hello, readers.  Ciwt is back from the desert, complete with camels, giraffes, rhinos and other desert creatures at the Living Desert* just in time to get her taxes in.    


Tuesday, April 9, 2024

The Desert Calls --- Days 13/95-101

 Walks: Palm Springs, Indian Wells

Distance: tbd

Ciwt is off to Palm Springs to spend time with family.  She'll meet you on CIWT in 5 days.

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Where in the World is Carmen...? --- Day 13/94

Walk: T Joe's
Distance: 2.4 miles

So, Ciwt couldn't help but wonder what the opera lovers in the SF Ballet audience yesterday were thinking during its new dance version of the beloved Carmen

The music is almost entirely new (but catchy and pretty hip). Carmen is not a cigarette factory worker; she's a waitress. And she's in Cuba, not Spain.  She's married in this dance.  And, oh, she comes to realize that she is a lesbian after all.

Ciwt and the season ticket holders sitting around her are a pretty open-minded (though mostly mature) group, and none of us got into this Carmen.  If the dance was 'modernized' for the younger audience, judging from the tepid applause at the end, it didn't sound like they got into either.  Ditto our local dance reviwer.  

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Japanese Prints in Transition: Reader Quiz --- Day 13/93

Walk: Legion of Honor, SF Ballet 

Distance: 3.5 miles

Weternization in Japan during the Meiji era (1868–1912), led to drastic changes in institutions and customs from the feudal society of the past. The many everyday things imported from the West included Western umbrellas, shampoo, Western clothing, short hair, Western-style buildings, gas lamps, and even schools, newspapers, magazines, and semi-Western-style buildings.

Can you pick out the westernized elements in the Japanese print below?

Yoshu Chikanobu (Japanese, 1838-1912), Imperial Party Visits the Park at Asukayama, 1888, color woodbock triptych


    Friday, April 5, 2024

    Japanese Prints in Transition: THE Print --- Day 13/92

    Walk: Presidio

    Distance: 5 miles 

    Katsushika Hokusai (Japanese),Under the Wave off Kanagawa (Kanagawa oki nami ura), also known as The Great Wave, from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku sanjūrokkei), ca 1830-32, woodblock print, ink and color on paper

    Probably the singlemost iconic example of East meets West in the printmaking world is this stunning woodblock by Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849). In depicting three boats moving through a huge cresting wave in a storm-tossed sea, Hokusai experimented with western linear technique, the first Japanese artist to do so. And his use of Prussian blue in The Great Wave revolutionized Japanese prints.

    Hokusai visited the subject of waves multiple times throughout his career, using the few Dutch landscape prints accessible in Japan at the time as source material.  In this print he creates a perspective entirely new to Japanese prints by making the boats in the foreground larger than Mount Fuji in the background.  And he uses rich blues produced using a combination of traditional indigo with the first modern (and Western) pigment, Prussian blue - invented in Germany and imported through Dutch and Chinese trade.

    Hokusai's printed fusion of Eastern and Western Influences was wildly heralded by the Impressionists and Post-impressionists in Paris.  Themes echoing his work appeared in works by Monet and Renoir as well as Art Nouveau.  His woodcuts were collected by many European artists including Degas, Gauguin, Klimt, Marc, Manet and van Fogh.  Degas said of him, "Hokusai is not just one artist among others in the Floating World. He is an island, a continent, a whole world in himself."

    The French composer Claude Debussy's tone poem La Mer, which debuted in 1905, is believed to have been inspired by Hokusai's print The Great Wave. The composer had an impression of it hanging in his living room and specifically requested that it be used on the cover of the published score, which was widely distributed, and the music itself incorporated Japanese-inflected harmonies.

    Thursday, April 4, 2024

    Japanese Prints Starting with the "S" Word --- Day 13/91

    Walk: Hood

    Distance: 2.5 miles

    Ciwt was surprised to learn that one art subject majorly affected by the arrival of Americans and other Westerners to Japan was pornography.  Or what Americans called and still call pornography. Until they arrived, the Japanese just called it art.  

    Every conceivable coupling was made into a woodblock print, distributed and displayed in Japan as Art. In the U.S., such prints wouldn't have been legal; in European countries they would usually be created on commission by 'gentlemen' who would hang their prints in clandestine rooms shared only with 'gentlemen' friends.  

    But not so in Japan. For one thing nudity was not inherently erotic in Japan where people were used to seeing the opposite sex naked in communal baths.  Vividly explicit sexual prints were abundant and very often given as gifts to brides and shared by parents or other adults with children of all ages. The Shogun's occasional disapproval of erotica was largely ignored, and Western Puritanical moral principles were utterly unheard of in Japan. Things people would be arrested for having on their computers in the West today were completely accepted as A-R-T. 

    Ciwt isn't sure exactly what changed in this regard with opening of Japan among Japanese artists and print collectors.  But certainly the Western (and Puritanical) tourists and people who moved or stayed in Japan were scandalized and horrified and probably initiated protests and censorship to the best of their abilities.  Their children, as they do today, probably snuck around to look at the prints anyway. And the Japanese art communities would have been under pressure to at least rein in the publication of erotic art.  For instance, the Legion's show has hung the erotic prints are in a separate room with warning signs outside it.  "Beware; sexually explicit material ahead." That kind of thing.

    Ciwt is no prude, but all this explicit and accepted erotica was actually quite shocking to her - several other press members at the preview as well.  In the process of getting a clearer understanding from the curator, even she admitted to being surprised when she learned of the prominent role erotic prints played in Japanese art and society. 

    Wednesday, April 3, 2024

    Who Knew? --- Day 13/90

    Walk: Legion of Honor Museum

    Distance: 2.5 miles

    Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1846), Wife of a Virtuous Man from the series Ten Beautiful Women, 1797-1800,
     Color woodcut, 13x8 7/8 inches

    Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892), Strolling from the series Thirty-Two Customs and Manners, 1888,
    Color woodcut, 14 1/6 x 9 7/16"

    The two exceptionally fine Japanese woodcut prints above were produced just 88 years apart, not a particularly long time for a country that was founded as a kingdom in 660 BC.  But apparently centuries apart in terms of female fashion.  

    And centuries apart would be accurate.  When American Commodore Matthew Perry led his four ships into the harbor at Tokyo Bay in 1853, the Japanese had cut off nearly all contact with the outside world since 1639.  Over 200 years.  During those years its political, social, religious and artistic customs had developed in isolated stability and near purity.  One city, Edo, evolved into a distinct and pervasive artistic center with its Kabuki theater and highly popular, avidly collected woodblock prints. 

    Today these prints are well-known and highly regarded as visual insights into the look, interests and activities of that hidden time.  And clearly one of the most valued subjects was beautiful women in tradtional dress, like the first print above.

    In art history scholoarship much is made of the colossal effect these Japanese prints had on Western artists, artisans and fashion.  Monet for instance was a great lover of them, learned much from their flat style and had an enormous personal collection. And the European craze for Japanese art and design beginning in the mid-1800's was so pervasive it has its own term: Japonisme.  But, until Ciwt went to the Press Preview of Japanese Prints in Transition, at the Legion of Honor Museum, Japanese Prints in Transition, she had never known that the West had had an equally pervasive impact on life in Japan.  Nor, she learned, is she alone in this; very little has been publicized about, to coin a phrase, 'Americanism' in Japan.

    Yet, there it is in the lower print above with the beautiful Japanese woman now in classic Victorian dress. We'll explore more about in the next few CIWT's.

    Tuesday, April 2, 2024

    Good and Bad Company --- Day 13/89

    Walk: Legion of Honor Museum

    Distance: 1 mile (still nursing cold)

    So, after museum 'hopping' through cold rain, busloads of school groups, throngs of their teachers and parents, the best part of Ciwt's trip began when she met a dear friend at the Kennedy Center.  

    We had nearly front row center tickets to the revival road show of Tony-winning musical, Company. We'd both read the glowing review of the production in the Washington Post, but only Ciwt had read the readers' comments.  If there were 25 of those, most were so-so and several were decidedly negative.  Like, The show was horrible. Everyone around us said the same thing. People left at intermission. And The cast worked as hard as they could, but the show itself is awful.  Understandably this made Ciwt a bit apprehensive.

    But she needn't have worried.  We sat in our great seats, heard (nearly) every word, applauded the excellent cast and thoroughly enjoyed the show.  Who knew what all those commenters were so upset about we ageeed.

    Then a couple of days later Ciwt got a call at home from her friend.  Appparently, she had a friend who went to Company with 'our' recommendation in mind.  And, well, that friend couldn't make out a word through the muffled accoustics and left at intermission.  Maybe she was sitting too far from the stage?  No, she reported that people up front left as well, some standing up and getting out even before intermission.

    What to make of this?  Maybe Ciwt and her friend were in a sort of  personal company bubble. Since they live on opposite coasts, it may have been such a treat to be in each other's company and in such excellent seats that they weren't particularly bothered by the 'small stuff.'   

    (....    Although it did come out in conversation later that both missed entire (short) acts due to the muffling .... And a marijuana scene didn't work for either of them but did for the people behind who may have been stoned...... And they've been very critical of other performances seen together.... )

    Monday, April 1, 2024

    "Compared To" Land --- Day 13/88

    Walk: no, home nursing airplane cold

    Distance: n/a

    Try as she might, after the better part of a century on the planet, Ciwt has a difficult time avoiding "Compared to...." land.  As in "compared to the last time I lived here, saw that, visited there....."  So, of course she spent much of her trip to the current DC in that land.  

    And actually, the city compared very well.  Its buildings are still stately and historical, including her gorgeous hotel where she was welcomed (see above) and  extremely well served.

    And 'compared to' the time she lived here there are numerous more museums, and the art collections of the museums she used to haunt have been greatly expanded.  'Compared to' that same era, there seemed to be many more people.  But, as she found on her arrival, it was also a trifecta week of Cherry Blossom Festival, Spring Vacation and Easter, so maybe this wasn't the best time to do that comparison.  Plus she would have been inside working  and unaware of the crowds then.

    'Compared to' the time she lived in DC there are many more buildings.  But what city hasn't grown in the past 50 years?  

    Really the only major - but unfortunately understandable - disappointment was DC's new emphasis on security.  On her way home from work, she used to love walking by the White house.  Whether she stood in front of it or at the edge of the rolling East Lawn, she was right next to the grass and feeling proud and welcome at 'America's house.' Same thing was true the many times she walked through the halls of Congress in in and out of the House and Senate chambers.  But now, 'comparatively speaking,' those places are carefully guarded and more remote.