A blog about my photos, my artwork, quotations, ideas, collections, passions, England, authors, handwork of all kinds, rusty bits, buffalo, and architectural detail...for starters. And the occasional rant.

Friday, March 21, 2014

365 Photo Challenge - February

February's subject was Fabric and like January, there was no shortage of subjects in my own home. No accident this, the weather was as cold and wet as expected. The only challenge was to find as wide a variety of fabric as possible.

In the end, I made quite a few sentimental choices:
My favorite necktie (remember when women were wearing men's vests and neckties?)

My football scarf

My needlework
My March subject is Stone, which is going along quite nicely. But I must admit I am looking forward to April and Foliage as spring in the Northwest will give me loads of opportunities....outside.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring Adventures

I woke up early this morning and remembered it was the first day of spring, so I sprung (sorry) out of bed determined to make something of the morning. My first look out of the window was a mixed blessing...so cold there was frost on the roofs of the next building, thick fog to the east, but clear to the north and....wait for it...it wasn't raining!
Frosted Landscape
So I grabbed my camera and my grocery list and headed out. By the time I hit the main intersection I could see bits of sunshine and a massed fly-over of herons above the heronry. Waiting for the light to change, I glanced in my rearview and saw Elvis. Yes, I started off spring this year with an Elvis sighting. Elvis jet-black hair in his later years comb-over, Elvis sideburns, Elvis sunglasses. He was driving an aged Ford, which was my first clue that he wasn't the real Elvis. My second clue was the woman in the passenger seat...gray-haired and smoking a cigarette. For a moment I entertained the idea of following the car to it's destination just to see what he was wearing, but he turned right and my Starbucks was to the left.

I was also concerned about the herons. (Nature Kills) By the time I had my coffee and was sitting at the heronry, everyone was back at their nests except for the odd father-to-be flying off for another branch. It was only a few minutes later that a large bald eagle flew swiftly across the heronry and out of sight, creating a cacaphony of raucous heron calls and a mass shifting of herons facing the sun, to herons facing the retreating enemy. I decided to leave before he came back, but I am happy to report that last year's predations don't seem to have affected the numbers of nesting herons this year.
2014 Happy Families
Leaving the grocery store, I made a loop through the neighborhood looking for a good 'Stone' photo for my Flickr 365 project, but I kept getting derailed by the early blooming trees - plum, cherry, the odd camelia, that ever-present pale purple species rhody, and my personal favorite - forsythia. I don't think there is any shrub more often improperly pruned than forsythia so to appreciate the real beauty, you almost have to look for one in an untended yard. I never did find a photo-worthy bush, so I had to settle for just a branch, fortuitously planted in front of a color-matched trailer.
 It may not have been the most exciting Spring Adventure, but I didn't waste much gas and I got a few laughs.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Snape Maltings, Suffolk

The composer Benjamin Britten was inspired by the 'vast skies and moody seas' of the Suffolk coast. A central figure of 20th-century British classical music, he was born in Lowestoft and died in Aldeburgh. He was one of the founders of the Aldeburgh Music Festival in 1948.

Benjamin Britten
Newson Garrett was a Victorian entrepreneur who purchased land at the small port of Maltings in the 1800's. Within three years of his arrival Garrett was shipping 17,000 quarters of barley a year from Snape and being one to spot an opportunity he built the Maltings in 1854 and was soon shipping malt rather than barley to the  brewing areas of Norwich and London. When this process came to an end in the 1960's, thirty acres of land and seven acres of industrial buildings were left vacant.

Serendipitously, Britten's festival was outgrowing it's first home at about the same time and he had the brilliance to envision the conversion of the largest malthouse into a concert hall, which was opened by the Queen in 1967. The complex is now home to rehearsal space as well as independent shops, galleries, restaurants, art exhibitions and what the English estate agents call 'character properties'...all tucked into brick buildings - new, old, and very old...but all brick.

Entering the complex, we found buildings that were neat and welcoming with freshly painted black and white trim. The gift shops, galleries, and restaurants were quite busy even at midday on a midweek in mid-May. It wasn't until we were heading out the exit that the complex took on a distinctly wabi-sabi aspect. In these unused buildings, time had done what it does best and created a beautiful palette of slow, steady disintegration.

Photo by Amethina
Photo by Amethina
I very much fear that over time, all of these wonderful old bedraggled buildings will be cleaned up and converted into character townhouses and bolt-holes for wealthy Londoners. I would like to think the worn and aged bricks are better prepared to absorb the strains of music of a similar age as it wafts over the Suffolk saltings.

Saltings: An area of coastal land that is regularly covered by the tide.
Maltings: A malt house, or maltings, is a building where cereal grain is converted into malt by soaking it in water, allowing it to sprout and then drying it to stop further growth. The malt is used in brewing beer, whiskey and in certain foods. The traditional malt house was largely phased out during the twentieth century.