Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Blood oranges

For writing project, later. (boqueria-2 credit; blood orange macro credit)


Yeats & a chandelier & now the reference is not to be found. No matter. The pictures are pretty & that's all I'm up to at present. Now, to find that blue beaded one from Bleu/Blue...it's somewhere, I'm sure. The idea of it is better than actually having it, surely. But to have one somewhere in the apartment would be swell (the "chandelier" in-situ doesn't count). The pink one matches Julie's nose & paw-pads (she's particularly pinky & delightful today, so please excuse the twee. It lightens things a bit).

On another pink note: cherry blossoms are everywhere here & still no word from the photographer to whom I wrote. I guess I'll have to ask someone else. I won't be online tomorrow (Wednesday, 1 April); I'm paranoid about that hideous virus featured on 60 Minutes on Sunday.

As an English friend said recently, Cheery bye!

[Photos: The kitchen with chandelier is from Domino Deco file; the adorable pink chandelier is by Shimelle & used with her kind permission; Shimelle's photostream, here.]

Café in Black & White

Lovely shot & a nice bilingual sentiment (here) by photographer Victor Nuño in a Spanish café. Would that we were there. Spaniards love cats, so no problem taking Julie.

Monday, March 30, 2009

In the orangerie...

I was potting up a few small plants (from cuttings) & thought for the millionth time since I was a child, oh wouldn't it be lovely to have a small greenhouse, conservatory, l'orangerie? Whatever you want to call it, that's what I thought immediately upon seeing this vintage Vogue 1949 photograph with the palms & other plants in the background. The provenance of the peasant-type top is uncertain but let's say she discovered a bit of Fortuny silk in her steamer trunk & used it for this...(it's 1948 & she's been separated from her belongings during the war). The photo of the old Italian pots reminds me of the smaller ones I have from Washington Cathedral's now-defunct (boo!) greenhouse & potting shed. They made their own pots (I know!)...started by the original Italian stonecutters who moved here to build the Cathedral. It will be awful the first weekend of May without a real Flower Mart since it began in the 1930s. I do worry about Katherine of Tarragon, the resident Cathedral herb garden/greenhouse cat. She must miss her run of the Cathedral & grounds. Poor lamb.

(second photo from Domino Deco file)

Sunday, March 29, 2009


"Once there was a farmer who had a cat. One spring, the cat gave birth to a litter of kittens. The kittens were too many for the cat to nurse. The farmer decided to throw the kittens into the river, since there were too many to feed. The mother cat, however, was devastated by the loss of her kittens. The cat went to the riverbank to rescue her children, but she was not strong enough or able to rescue them all. She began wailing in grief, and her cries were carried by the wind throughout the river valley. The kittens also cried in their struggles to survive in the torrent. The willow trees along the bank heard the cries of mother and children. Each willow dropped its branches to the water. As the kittens washed through, the willows scooped them up into their saving branches. Today we see each spring the reminder of their saving ways. The image of the kittens nestles in the bows of the pussywillow." (from The White Willow)

As a child & teenager, a few sprigs were often in a vintage jar on my nightstand (before the lilacs bloomed). Like any child, I'd pet them & pretend they were kittens. I spent an inordinate amount of my childhood accompanying my mother to all sorts of wild places with her "plant knife" (an old paring knife) & tiny pruning shears; she kept these in her purse always because, as she said, "you never know.'"Reeds, pussywillow, cattails. It sounds better than it was...lots of scraped bare legs (mine, not hers; she directed the action).

I almost brought some willow into the apartment this weekend but the temptation to Julie the Cat would be too great. Even with marbles in the vase, it wouldn't be enough to prevent upending & yelling (that would be me). We had an unfortunate forsythia situation last year; I tempted poor Julie not once, but twice with long fluffy branches. The predictable happened & I yelled. Then I hated myself; she was puzzled & full of hurt feelings. Until I have some sort of concrete urn on the floor, we shall admire branches in nature & in photographs. (The photograph is an especially elegant arrangement from a Domino Deco file & yes I hit the 'saturate' button in Picasa. I cannot help myself, it's a sickness). As usual, computer problems, so I hope to see you tomorrow.

PS: Working on cherry-blossom-in-DC-time but awaiting a photographer's permission for his beautiful on-the-spot pix. The festival officially began yesterday. The pink-blooming wild cherry outside my window is lovely & ethereal against the morning's fog.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Week's End - Ava in Black & White

Lovely feline Ava with her Siamese kitty-cat. At home in Hollywood in 1946, before she (wisely) decamped for London & away from that crazy Sinatra. Why do I know these things? Surely, it clutters the mind. Anyway, this is from the Hollywood Cats book (via scan). Computer crisis, can you tell?! Hope to be back on the weekend. Wish me luck. xo

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The other side of the blue wall

So why can't she have the balloons? Pretty colors, though.(photo credit)

L'heure bleue, Paris window

For later, writing project. Another l'heure bleue photograph & as a bonus it includes my window fixation. This is by a terrific guy in Paris, Yannick Vigouroux who has been very helpful with photographs, the color blue, & the French poetry scene. You just never know when you write to someone for permission what will happen. Sometimes, it's just "sure." And that's fine. And then sometimes it's a lot more. I'll be out & about the rest of the week & the computer is edgy. So I'm going to set photos to run through Friday. Just in case. Ciao & thanks, Yannick!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


No one on whom to pin the blame & isn't it frustrating to so many? To dear N., much more than the baby in the barn. Who loved, loved, loved fish. Not just the ones in the ocean but all of'em. xo. (photo credit)

Afternoon in Ercolano

Out of a sow's ear...these photos are awful but a reminder of a day spent at a friend's office. She was charged with renovating a palazzo, outer buildings (including huge stables...all I could think was poor Hercules with that particular chore), & gardens...& starting a graduate business school for the Italian government. In English. And dealing with some sort of flower show or display that day & the bitterly complaining florists (about where each one had been assigned for their arrangement). And, and, and. My friend handled it all quite gracefully, including a depressed friend who showed up for three weeks with one pair of black jeans, three black turtlenecks, a boyfriend's old red pullover, & not much else. Oh, yes, a list of complaints about life. The other pictures from the trip are all in bright sunlight so I'm not sure what happened here. The flash went off, we thought so anyway. This is really for writing purposes & later. I know I always write that but 'tis true. (Ercolano is the Italian name for Herculaneum of Vesuvian fame/infamy.)

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Flowers in a cup

Why doesn't anyone do this for me? This is what's going on: too much to do (looking for work is beyond difficult now); moving too slowly (strong coffee notwithstanding); & dial-up, dial-up, dial-up. Plus my bangs are so long that if wings, I could fly (sans caffeine), appear on Oprah, & not have to look for real work. Hey, I can dream.

(coffe art credit; my now-traditional bangs-in-crisis photograph via Italia Vogue scan, here)

Update at 7:05 EDT: Apologies to all who have tried to leave comments & have been spurned. It's not me, it's AIG! (kidding) Working on investigation here & over at Giulia Geranium. But must watch our President tonight....so I'll be back tomorrow a.m. with some answers. Ciao!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Golden-yellow ranunculus

Sort of lost my mind in the market & bought a bunch of golden yellows. Keep thinking but I didn't buy chub-inducing-stinky cheese. Or some such. Julie the gattina has (twice) dragged a few stems from the old Vietri pitcher & placed them on a bamboo tray. Flower arranging? Prey collecting (euwww)? Protest because she thinks they were purchased instead of her fancy schmancy natural cat food? These are forgiving flowers, so they haven't yet wilted in protest. It was difficult to choose amongst pink, white, orange, & the yellow. Might've chosen the red, actually, but the sole crimson bunch was wilted. A man nearby must've thought me mad...I noticed him watching my selection method. I held bunches like a hand of cards, switching them about, putting some back. I discard until yellow remains. Gin! I don't know why...but they make me happy (& Julie, too, in her own feline way).

Sunday, March 22, 2009

On the edge of Vesuvius

Original Polaroid Land Camera snaps from the mid-1970s on an Italian Sunday afternoon. The story is long & short. Presently, it feels necessary to say only that I loathed the person on the left (my right), & liked the one on the right -- very much. My second trip to Italy (from France) but my first to the south & "real" Italy (ten days in Venice a few months before was a world away). The photographer & person I liked lived in the area. The photographs looked this spooky as soon as we saw them...it's not their age now. No tourists were there that day, just a bored guard--delighted to talk to someone. I was excited to be so close to a volcano, I remember. I saw several in Iceland but they didn't have tragic stories, ancient & modern, attached to them. The Neapolitan area inspires both longing & loathing. What a complicated place...

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Week's End - Veronica in Black & White

This 1942 photograph of Veronica Lake & cat is via scan from the Hollywood Cats book I bought last month at the Washington Animal Rescue League's Catapalooza--which was great fun. It's the same book that Marlon Brando & his cool white cat inhabit (from a post a week or two ago) The small amount of text accompanying the photo said that the big ol' tuxedo cat fell asleep on Miss Lake's lap during the shoot. A relaxed kitty.

Hope we see you back here on the weekend. If not, that means that the computer crisis has blossomed (too nice a word) into meltdown.

Thanks to The Clever Pup for the darling Diverting blog award & I hope to post on that over the weekend.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Joni in Black & White, this flight tonight

The English Muse wants a getaway & asked where she (we) should go. Her post, I'll book the flight instantly brought This Flight Tonight to mind. Except that song is an "oh what did I just do, getting on this plane." Yes, but no, but yes. Get on the plane & visit (move here), someone told me once. Get on the damn plane, he said. Upon landing, all I could think was: turn this crazy bird around...

The photo above is pre-Blue but JM wrote an astonishing number of well-known songs early in her life, recording them much later. I liked happening upon the early photo while looking for something else. But of course.

Update: Word from la Muse is that Paris is the consensus, BTW. Free man in Paris...la la la.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Jerusalem 1986: The Borrowed Flat

Cringe. Originally published in WordWrights magazine (No. 29), copyright, October 2003. (written & revised over many years...it's been a few years, time for another revision.) Via scan with another poem cropped out. Not ready to see that again! Several issues are missing from the site. I'm not surprised, what a dysfunctional bunch (more than usual). You should (not) have been at the party to which I was persuaded to go. I whispered to a companion, "Let's get out of this boring, insane place--I mean really. The nerve to be crazy and boring? That is not to be borne." He said, "Material, you always say it's material..." Yes, well. That was not material. What it was I can say another time. Drawing a blank. SNL skit doesn't cover it.

(Copyright, Susan V. Sears/all rights reserved)

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Delphinium blue

For later. Still working on dual-purpose project. The computer is now distressed about its memory. I'd like to say "it's not my problem, you should see my memory, so just deal with it"...but it is my problem & the idea that I would enter into an existential conversation with a computer is troubling--in so many ways. Additionally, the GG blog still resists 'comment enable' function. Will post images to publish through week, just in case. So if I don't answer comments, that's what's up. I might be able to access email (&/or Facebook page) if all else goes wrong. Thanks to The Clever Pup for her tag & I hope to get to it by tomorrow. So nice of her, really. ciao belle.

(image credits: flowers from Gertrud K's flickr sets; J.Binoche)

Drink more coffee...

Last Tuesday I warned myself with that vintage advert "Drink more coffee & do stupid things faster with more energy..." I fear it's true. Never got back to St. Patrick's Day or music or anything yesterday. Just moved things around & tried to enable comments on the other blog, too. Serves me bloody right...now it won't work. This Bialetti was over there (the GG blog) yesterday & it's the first thing I really pay attention to in the early a.m. Other than Julie wanting her breakfast. She sighs, though, no meowing. Yes, she's a cat but I swear she's sighs like she feels awfully sorry about it but really, she cannot fetch it herself. It's really quite polite. (photo credit)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Multicolored balloons in a green sky

Happy St. Patrick's Day. I wish someone would leave a case of Harp & a bottle of Jameson on the front stairs. Seriously. Considering I was a founding member of the James Joyce Society in DC, one of three responsible for running the first Ulysses marathon reading in the U.S. at American University in 1984, & on & on...one would think I'd have more to say. Quote Yeats, at least, if not Joyce. Anecdotes about friends at the Abbey? My collection of Irish children's books (that are anything but sentimental, of course)? Nope. Not feeling it tonight (as this is 16 March). Perhaps later. xo. (photo credit)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Three views of Vence

Still looking for Vence images...these aren't the ones I need for a specific project but I like them. Through the eyes of the same photographer (Tony M. of Vence, France). Black & white; sepia filter/dusk; washed-out pale with blue, window detail. A café. Computer continues on edge of nervous breakdown, so pictures for now. And writing, off-line.

Note: Check out English Muse's The girl with the pink gloves today. I left a comment but have more to say here later. Riffing on someone else's stuff? Kind of a virtual mini-workshop, in my experience. xo.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Week's End - Listen to the Radio

Computer crisis. It's not like I can have it fixed or anything else & I don't have another office to go to. This is it. I find this photo appealing, not just because of the cat & the radio but because it's Depression-era. The First One. Because it definitely feels, to one on the edge already, that the Second is on its way. There's a camping ground in a Sacramento parking lot (I saw on the still-working TV) that grows daily; it looks dreadfully like an updated photo from the DPA archives. It's happening all over America. ( If you don't know what the DPA photographs are, do a search. You'll know immediately.) It's coming to a parking lot near you, if it's not there already. (Cat sitting on a radio in 1930s Sydney credit)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pieces of another puzzle

More pieces. Blue balloon (though not blue enough, it'll do for now), figs. Typewriters, done; Vespa, oranges, South of France, to come. (photo credits) Still having computer problems. Will set things to post through the weekend. Wish me luck. Ciao, S.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

American Girl in Rome, 1951

So many people have sent a copy of this card/postcard over the last, maybe, 20 years; I've lost count. "It reminded me of you." Maybe because a copy hangs in the apartment. Except some people haven't seen it. I hope I don't look this fearful. I think I read that it was staged. It's a familiar scenario, though, I'm sorry to admit.

(via scan of postcard that arrived today. It's Ruth Orkin's famous photo. The card is by Graphique de France. I have two volumes of Orkin's work but too lazy to go pull them out to get publisher. Will do later.)

UPDATE - 23 May 2009. Well, don't I feel an idiot. Talented Tina Tarnoff of Thouht Patterns has a wonderful Ruth Orkin post, here. The photographs are from a series taken in Florence. I ought to know that since: 1) I walk past a superlarge print of the above every day--it says Italy, not Rome; 2) I have Ruth Orkin photograph books. Apparently, I substitute "Rome" for "Florence" sub- or unconsciously. Visit Tina, she's got the real deal. I leave the title here, as it is.

Pieces of a Puzzle

This is a quick collage I made for a 7 random things about me when The English Muse tagged the other blog. I need to move it over to this blog & that's what bricolage (the word, not me necessarily) is about...among other things. Pieces. Of. Stuff.

To anyone who writes to me on AOL & sees this post: my account was hacked about two hours ago (Tuesday, 10 March 2009). It's never happened to me before (at home) & I'm freaked out & very upset & terribly sorry for the inconvenience. A friend is putting an announcement on my Facebook page.

Back on to post some photos to run for the next two days & I hope I'm back later. Good night.

The week so far...

...it's only Tuesday afternoon & I have definitely done more stupid things, faster, in two days than all of last week. Meanwhile, The Clever Pup has written a wonderful art history lesson, The English Muse is planning the most-fabulous-dinner-party-ever, & Small Expectations has an adorable stack o' cats drawing. It's enough to make a girl feel totally inadequate! Sniff. (advert credit) ciao, belle.

L'heure bleue, 2

Also for use later. By reflets de verts in Strasbourg, France where I used to live.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Couple in Black & White

Couple by Ernest Haas of the great Magnum Agency. It's a scan (& cropped) of the UK edition of Richard Ford's Women With Men. Great collection. Paris plays a role, if you've not read it, but not the way romantics might like. Or might. Disappointed ones. (Is there any other kind? Seriously, I'm asking.) An obnoxious novelist, an ex-, snickered derisively when he saw I had Ford on my shelves. "Women hate him. He's a men's writer." Huh? No one told me. I should have known right then. Would've saved five years. But that's another photograph.

I think the photograph is from a series but haven't had time to look.

PS: Trying to break my OCD should-have-post-ready for 7am publish-next-day, no matter what. Here's hoping.

Bouquets of yellow mimosa...

...to all on International Women's Day. The annual theme is up to individual countries, but this year "Women and men united to end violence against women & girls" is the official UN/global focus.

When it comes to the condition of women & girls, my knowledge is mostly southern Italy, Sicily (Italians...sorry, it's true & you know it), the Middle East (all countries & territories), north & central Africa. I'm thinking a lot about colleagues, friends, & good acquaintances who are either on the Chad-Darfur border or detained in Sudan. Don't know yet. Border hopes.

On a less serious note, March 8 is celebrated with a great deal of fun & flair (no surprise) in Italy. See here for a little Roman anecdote. xoxo

Update: I can't believe I'm doing this. But if it makes some people happy, then I'll make your damn day. In Italy, there's an argument (of course) about the proper title of International Women's Day. So. Today is also Buona Festa della Donna. I hereby declare both titles correct. /susan/8 march/noon EST. Grrrr.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Week's End - Marlon in Black & White

How cool is this? Young Marlon with a great typewriter & his white cat (in 1955) via scan from Hollywood Cats that I found for $1.00 at Catapalooza on Valentine's Day. Such a bargain.) Off to brood (but never as cool as Marlon). Have a great weekend. Sunday is International Women's Day & I'll post something...they celebrate it in Europe (especially Italy) big time but in the States? Zip, really. What about Canada? Canadiennes, please weigh in, if you like. ciao, belle!

Artful Annie

Ever-so-cool & arty Annie Lennox. There are many great black & white pix of her but I love the color here. I've been listening to her cover album, Medusa, a lot lately. And then playing songs by the original writers/singers. Particularly Don't Let it Bring You Down by Neil Young (whom I love despite his crankiness & often reflexive sexist statements...he's mellowed somewhat in that respect). Here's a September post, Scots We Like, from the other blog, early on with another photo & credits & more reasons to like Annie.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Federico's film that changed everything...

It must be everywhere today but I can't let it pass without saying something. La Dolce Vita (the movie, not the saying) is 50 years old today. More thoughts another time...but I keep hearing Anita Ekberg say: "Marcello...come here..." in that nutty high voice at that goofy Trevi Fountain. (photos from screen shots).ciao belle.

Amusement: make an album cover

Thanks to Jamie at Small Expectations for her post (& to A Bird in the Hand blog where Jamie happened upon the instructions to make your own album cover). Mine isn't as cool as Jamie's but I've never used the text function in Picasa, so that was fun. I wanted to spend more time on the fonts but kept it to 10 minutes tops. Following the rules: 1) the first random Wikipedia article was about the HMS Achille; the last random quote on Quotations page was by Leon Tec, MD: "A sailor without a destination cannot hope for a favorable wind." So there's the album title: Hope for a favorable wind. The third photo (in middle column at bottom) in the last seven days of flickr page that loaded was by NenePhoto & titled Boccadasse, Genova, Liguria. See? I can't get away from Italy! ciao-ciao

Italian bloggers have style

Oh they're just wonderful, even if they are nuts. Maybe that's why I love them. This is the banner from the conglomeration of Italian bloggers for Darfur...Yes, my worlds collide. Isn't that George Costanza's cri de coeur? "Worlds colliding, Jerry..." :) I'm still looking for the attribution but taking a decidedly Italian attitude about it. ciao

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Blue hyacinth

The hyacinth for constancy wi' its unchanging blue.
- Robert Burns, O Luve Will Venture In

Drunk on the gorgeous scent of a full-blooming purplish-blue hyacinth. It was a major bargain-treat last weekend. I feel like Ferdinand the Bull. And, of course, it's in the blue color family; the fixation continueth. As I lack a working camera, Tracey Tilson of Images by Tracey graciously gave permission to use her lovely photograph on both blogs.

Hadn't thought to include poem links with the word 'hyacinth,' but why not? There are so many, so this is fairly random. The Cats Will Know (Cesare Pavese); A Face (Robert Browning); Hyacinth (Louise Gluck)

I will post more later or tomorrow but the scented cloud around my head had to be mentioned...it might be why I've been so distracted.Yes, I can blame even a flower. It's a change from blaming Julie the Cat...she is asleep right underneath the Leaning Pisa bloom. Little Ferdinanda.