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Retrospection 1: My Madeleines

Posted February 19th, 2012
Retrospection 1: My Madeleines

Memories are not, I think, narratives we remember as much as impressions, images and sensations. In that I am in agreement with Proust. Such imprints seem, at least to me at this great distance from the events, a little arbitrary although not like events seen through a rose-tinted lens. Who knows, though, whether they are…

Good Plants Gone Bad

Posted May 26th, 2013
Good Plants Gone Bad

Such a beautiful Saturday in May, a brisk wind, temps in the sixties, irresistible gardening weather. What to do, what to do. Weeding. Pruning, General cleanup. We are coming up on the 8th anniversary of our moving in. In August of 2005 things looked pretty drab. The slick clay slope behind resisted growth of anything…

Back in the Garden

Posted March 15th, 2014
Back in the Garden

The ground is soggy, the sun is bright and the wind whips up now and then. Although there are patches of snow and ice here and there, there is no sense of winter, only the certainty of spring. The garden is a wreck. There is so much dead foliage, not just the detritus not cleared…

The Eternal City 5: Architecture of Visions

Posted April 25th, 2014
The Eternal City 5: Architecture of Visions

In 2005, Jake Morrissey published a book called The Genius in the Design: Bernini, Borromini, and the Rivalry that Transformed Rome. Haven’t read it? Do. It’s brief, fascinating, dense with information about the birth of the Baroque in Rome, and it makes you care about these extraordinary artists. Mostly it made me care about Borromini….

Views out the windows

Posted June 12th, 2009

Surely, it’s just the season; surely I have too much time on my hands with no classes to teach, no papers to grade, exams to correct. Nonetheless I seem fixated on the critters who share this suburban development with us. Each night, when I am ready for bed, I follow a small ritual. I swill…

Next Great Artist 10: Abdi’s Mom is a hundred thousand dollars richer

Posted August 13th, 2010

It’s over and done with and Abdi, as the “Next Great Artist,” will exhibit his work at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. The check for $100,000.00, he says, will go to his mother. In ten years, however, or ten months or ten days, will anyone remember? Will anyone care? Just prior to the final show,…

Next Great Artist 8: Significant Form and the Reality of Television

Posted July 30th, 2010

I found a certain irony in Challenge 8. Last week I railed about the triviality of the challenges. I even weighed in on the subject on Jerry Saltz’s New York magazine blog where some of the more interesting discussions about the show take place. This week the Great Minds at BRAVO decided to go with…

James and the Giant Fall

Posted November 16th, 2009

The subject line of Emily’s e-mail was “James and the Giant Fall.” The funny headline all but trumpeted the reassuring news contained in the note. James is the sixth of my mother’s grandchildren. A gangly, bearded boy, he is a lover of wild places and high elevations. The Giant Fall took place in Utah far…

In the Middle 1: Kansas City Here We Come

Posted October 16th, 2013
In the Middle 1: Kansas City Here We Come

Under the grey sky, in the grey light of early morning, Eero Saarinen’s Gateway Arch looked dully grey as I peered through the window of the plane as it descended toward the St. Louis airport. I am sure the view from the ground—now that there appears to be some kind of concord in Congress that…

An English Wedding 9: A Parking Tale

Posted September 27th, 2010
An English Wedding 9: A Parking Tale

Do you know what happens if you are a little late returning to the car you left in the car park just below Windsor Castle? The warden boots your car–locks on a wheel clamp–and charges you 120£ (125£ if you use a charge card instead of a debit card or cash) to remove it. The…