Heroes and Heroines

With the exception of "The Gladiator," I do believe that most, if not all, my heroes and heroines are writers, scientists, and the odd philosopher.

This week another funny, charming, bright heroine died: Nora Ephron.   The obituaries are pouring into my mailbox just like, "You've got mail."

Other recent deaths of those I'd call "my hero" was Maurice Sendak, a child-hood acquaintance and wonderful writer, artist and fellow Brooklyn-ite.

Even more recently a stunning hero, Ray Bradbury, passed away.


A Kelly Kilmer online class: tempting

It's been years since I've seen Kelly or taken a Kilmer class (in Westchester), but not nearly as many years since our group at yahoo disbanded.  I follow her blog "Kelly Kilmer Artist and Instructor," and her latest on-line workshop is very tempting.

AJ Tarot Deck 2001©

I do journal; I do sketch; I do make books and now I am trying out a pseudo-encaustic for Cynthia, but I am uneven, undisciplined and erratic since I retired.  Strange, instead of doing more art, I do less.

Illustration from my nearly defunct website

And the fact that this class will stay up forever makes it all the more appealing.


Artist: A look at Caravaggio

Have you ever seen a Caravaggio at a museum or a gallery (probably in Italy)?

The New York Times "Postcards" looks at the "Madonna di Loreto" in Rome,

Madonna di Loreto, Rome (via Wikipedia

but one of the paintings that had me enthralled was in a museum in Sicily.

Seppellimento di Santa Lucia" cm 408x300, Museo Nazionale Palazzo Bellomo, Siracusa  

It was Christmas 2004, and M and I spent nearly a month in Sicily.  Of the many towns, hamlets, and cities we visited, I think it was Siracusa that remains my favourite.  Every memory I have of the days and evenings we spent there are engraved on my eyelids.

It is also a special time in Siracusa (Syracuse) when the town/city celebrates Santa Lucia.  It was cold that day, and raining lightly, but still the entire populace came out to either walk in the parade through the main street, or to watch on the sidelines.  M and I did, too.

It was magnificent.

Lucia is carried through the streets and after the parade is over, the entire town celebrates with good food and fine wine.  And we did, too.  We went to a local restaurant and met with only the friendliest revelers, all of whom, bought us vino, and desserts.

The pensione we stayed at was terrific, on the ground floor with a beautiful outdoor paved garden and reasonably priced, even in Euros.

But it is the sea and the art that stays with me and keeps me going back to Sicily, if not in reality, in my imagination.  And Caravaggio's work, in person, the brush strokes, the depth of field, the realism, is perfect and near life-sized.


Alvin in paper

Early for an interview weeks ago in Hasbrouck, I stopped off at our singular stationer and art supply shop in Monticello.  On hand was Bob, the friendly at the front desk salesman, and just as I was about to pay and leave the store with some unneeded but purchased anyway office supplies, I remembered that the last time I was in they had the Rhodia notebooks on sale.

It seems they are discontinuing Rhodia, but added this new series by Alvin. 

Alvin ALG14

They are made in Turkey, seem to be utilitarian styles and have quality 80g/m vellum paper.  The pad I picked up is 4.3x6.7, gridded and perforated.  The pad was priced at $2.45.

Testing Pens

I tried a few pens on it, with various inks, and it seems like a good substitute for similar quick note pads I use at interviews.

Uranus, in particular, bleed through

However, several pens do create significant bleed through, in particular, the Uranus.

At this price, and with my penchant for writing tools, not a bad purchase.


Planning a Garden, 2nd Stage

Mixed Beds - Flowers and Vegetables

Beds and Containers, Mixed Plantings

Saracennia oreophila
Too much grass.  I have four areas going, one is encircled by a short fence, another is just beyond the walkway in the back of the house, a third is in development as a rain garden and the fourth is being prepared for some of the plants I suspect won't make it in containers beyond one season, but are perennials.

Today it is raining, and heavily, so no gardening just thinking, planning and catching up on garden books and magazines.

Our season is radically different than I am accustomed to and may be even more unpredictable with climatic changes.

Books: The Last Pre-Raphaelite: Edward Burne Jones

A stimulating review of McCarthy's new book, "The Last Pre-raphaelite " in the Washington Post recently, written by Michael Dirda.

The Beguiling of Merlin, Burne-Jones, National Museum Liverpool


On Ray Bradbury

One of the princes of science fiction, and a most valuable mentor in writing, Ray Bradbury seemed ageless.  In fact, I thought he was far younger than his 91 years.

The WP has this to say.

And the New York Times obituary here.

NPR also did a review today in their update here.

I've read much of Ray Bradbury, his novels, novellas, short stories and even did a commemorative tarot deck with the Capolan's based on "Something Wicked this Way Comes," back a few years ago. I have to find the card I made because it was one I was rather fond of and even proud of at the time.

But of all Bradbury's writing, the book I cherish is the one he did on writing, "Zen in the Art of Writing."  He was masterful in creating a simple formula for his daily writing, and he wrote every day.  He permitted himself a free flow of imaginary by entering his cluttered but wonderful decorative workroom, pouncing on one object in the room and then...yes, writing!

When I lived in Providence (RI) during my sabbatical year from that awful B medical school, I did what Bradbury did.  I had a light front room, filled with what I loved, two desks, hundreds of books, and my favourite childhood doll, a small Macintosh SE, and plenty of time.  I didn't answer the phone or acknowledge the world until I wrote one thousand words.  I was able to keep this up the entire year after returning from a 3 month trip across the US (circa 1992).

That year in writing is memorable.  But Ray Bradbury is even more memorable and a wonderful influence to all writers, science fiction or otherwise.

Thank you, Mr. Bradbury.  I'll miss your voice in my ear.

Rabbit Girl and Zoe in Pittsburgh, Highland Park


Cartridge Connection

I didn't make the logical but not necessarily obvious connection that the Kaweco pens take standard sized cartridges.  I was concerned I'd run out and bought 3 packets in 3 different colours.

But it appears I have dozens of this size cartridge in J. Herbin canisters, some of which I bought in Portland at Oblations and others from Swisher, now dark.


An early gift

Joann gave me a lovely sumi set this week from China.  I found this good tutorial on grinding at Blue Heron, better known for their inventive water brushes.

Review: A.G. Spalding Fountain Pen

It will come, but a here's a tease.

AG Spalding Fountain, Pen, courtesy Jet Pens
I am not an active member of Facebook or Twitter, nor is it my intention to become active.  I am not socially inclined in that terrific pool of non-friends and friends alike.   Hence, I had no idea that the Facebook and Twitter social media world is involved in ways that I was totally and completely unaware of--including offering products.

Jet Pens, is among those offering products to review just that way.  However, Lily, kindly took my reluctance to be a part of the bigger world into consideration and sent me the AG Spalding fountain pen to review knowing my penchant for writing instruments and lack of social graces in this wider world.

But I've decided after reviewing several fountain pens, quickly, perhaps too quickly, that like automobiles and bluejeans, fountain pens need to be test driven.  I am doing that with the AG Spalding.  It is keeping up nicely and will receive a thorough review after it has hit the end of its ink fill.

Thanks, Lily and Jet Pens, for the pleasure of yet another pen to write and doodle with.