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Leonard Nimoy is an interesting guy. I'm sure everyone here knows about his career in music and has probably heard The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins. But did you know that he's a professional photographer? Really. And some of his stuff is pretty cool:


(Note that pics at that link might be considered NSFW.)
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I have not really taken much time for myself in the last 10 months. I think I need to start doing that more. We're at a point where it's easier logistically. And I think I'm a more patient mommy when I've had some "me time". Also, as the mother of a little girl, I think it's important to model taking some time for oneself. The idea that the ideal wife and mother puts everyone else ahead of herself is still fairly strong in our culture. To some extent, I have drunk that kool aid. And I think it's not entirely healthy.

Yesterday I took two and a half hours for myself. It was lovely.

There is a meditation class every Saturday morning in the Japanese gallery at the art museum. I had read about it a while back but once upon a time 10:15 on a weekend morning seemed early to me. (Hah!) Yesterday I went to the class. I've done mini meditation sessions in my yoga class and guided meditations via my iPod. But I believe the longest meditation I had previously attempted was 12 minutes. The class was 45 minutes. We sat on our museum-provided cushions on the floor. There were six of us. The instructor asked me and another newcomer about our prior experience and then explained briefly that the idea was to focus on our breath and that she would ring the bell four times to start and once to end. There followed 40 minutes of silence. It was great. I sat. I focused on my breath. Inhaling. Exhaling. Thoughts wandered in and I tried not to follow them and to go back to my breath. Inhaling. Exhaling. I had a mental imagine of my brain as a monkey jumping up and down and waving its arms. Monkey mind. Hee. Inhaling. Exhaling. I had the occasional doubt about whether I could make it to 40 minutes. No way to know how long we'd been going. Probably we weren't even halfway there yet. Inhaling. Exhaling. *DING*

I made it the whole 40 minutes! And it didn't seem like nearly that long. And I felt very relaxed afterwards. It was excellent. When the class was over I went downstairs to see The Missing Peace, an exhibit of art inspired by the Dalai Lama and his work. Some nifty stuff in there. I liked the portraits of the Dalai Lama and the Buddhist-related art the best. I ended my morning out with a lovely piece of mushroom and brie quiche and a cup of coffee on the terrace of the museum cafe, overlooking the river.

I likely won't do that every week, but I definitely do want to do it again sometime.
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F. and I decided, pretty much on the spur of the moment, to go up to Austin for ArmadilloCon this past weekend. It was a lot of fun, in a low key kinda way. One of the highlights for me was Steven Brust, who was on a number of panels and was always entertaining (as well as informative). At his reading on Sunday he did a piece from Tiassa, the new Vlad book coming out next year. I can't recall the exact details, but he said it's a departure from the previous books in that it's a collection of two (?) novellas, an interlude, and I think a prologue and an epilogue and that there are four different narrators, including a section from Paarfi. The bit he read had a hint to Devera's father, who I believe had never been mentioned before in the books. After a little research online, it appears that my guess from the hint matches with what Brust outright said elsewhere in an interview. I hadn't known about the interview, so it was a surprise to me.

Other highlights:

The Broad Universe reading, where I won a copy of Phoebe Kitanidis's Whisper in a drawing. They had six books to give away and my name was picked second, so I had a choice of nearly everything and Whisper was the piece that had been read of which I most wanted more. Read it cover to cover that night. It's young adult, so it was a quick read. It's definitely a junior high/high school sort of book, focusing on issues of fitting in and self identity, but I enjoyed it.

Having the winning bid on a signed print by Jeff Ward at the art show. The one I got isn't on that web site. It's a forest scene with a tree trunk that has a doorway in it that is glowing with light. I think I know where I'm going to hang it. But first it needs framing.
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Every year since 1976, photographer Nicholas Nixon has taken a black and white photo of his wife Bebe and her three sisters. The series, called The Brown Sisters, is still running as far as I can tell. The first 25 years worth are here:


Note that the women are always posed in the same left-to-right order from year to year. And if you click on any of the small ones at that link, you get a slightly larger version of it.

I like how the change is gradual from any one photo to the next, but dramatic from the early ones to the later ones. They lose the smoothness of youth but, to my eye, seem to gain more character or at least they look like they have more stories to tell. I also think it's nifty that they've preserved this annual tradition for over 30 years. I hope they keep it up for at least another 30.
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I was in DC for grant reviews last week. When I started reviewing, some years back, I scheduled my trips so as to be able to include some sight-seeing each time. I saw many art museums and the new World War II memorial and the new Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian and Arlington Cemetery. But then, after going to DC 3+ times per year for 5+ years, the novelty wore off and I started cutting my arrival and departure times closer. Last week, I decided to fit in a treat and I took the way, way too early flight so that I got to DC before the museums closed on Wednesday. The (very nice) hotel I was staying at was a mile or so from The Phillips Collection, which I had never visited. They had a lot of paintings that I really liked. My two favorites were Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party and Van Gogh's Road Menders. Somehow the thing I like about Van Gogh's work doesn't translate well to 2D. The picture on that web site doesn't do it justice. I love that rich yellowy-orange color of the leaves on the trees. It's the same color that is in his famous sunflowers and it doesn't come through well in most photos I've seen. But there's also something about the sinuousness of the lines that I love, particularly in the tree trunks. And I think the layering of the paint is important and that that's the thing that doesn't translate well to photographs. The Renoir I like for the pastel colors and the peacefulness. Whenever I can, I send my mom a postcard from my travels. This time she got one of the Renoir because, alas, the Van Gogh just doesn't look as good on a postcard as it does in real life. Slightly trailing these two favorites were a blue period Picasso and a colorful Kadinsky. They also had a Rothko room, nicely designed and of an intimate size so that it was dominated by the four paintings, one on each wall. This I mention, in part, because of Vardibidian's recent Rothko reference in his blog. Alas, Rothko does not do it for me. Perhaps I will mature into an appreciation of Rothko some day. Happened for Van Gogh, who I didn't used to like nearly so much. Also notable were the beautiful fireplace surrounds in the museum. The Phillips Collection is housed in two (?) connected old mansions and there were several rooms that had been preserved at least in part, some with beautiful fireplaces with tiled surrounds or wooden mantels. All in all, it was definitely worth getting up early. I won't schedule museum time on every trip to DC (this is my fourth visit there this year), but every once in a while it's nice to have a treat.


Jan. 4th, 2009 05:33 pm
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It's so easy not to make time to see the things that are in your own home town. [livejournal.com profile] creed_of_hubris and I probably go to more museums per year when we're traveling than we do here at home. But this past week we went to the lovely art museum that is less than two miles from our home. They have a new wing that they opened last summer that we hadn't yet seen. It's beautiful, modern design with lots of natural lighting. I really like museums that have that open feel with lots of windows and natural light. They also had three special exhibits ending in the next few weeks. This museum has an extensive theater arts collection, courtesy of a local donor. For the holiday season, they had an exhibit of sets used in Tim Burton's stop motion animation movie The Nightmare Before Christmas. I have to admit, I haven't seen that movie. So although I enjoyed the whimsy of the sets, I probably would have appreciated them move if I'd been familiar with more of the context of the world and how the locations looked in the finished film. The second special exhibit was Audubon prints from his works on birds and animals of America, which was neat. The detail on the fur of the deer was amazingly lifelike and the Texas-centric animals like the armadillo were fun. But the high point of the visit was the exhibition of George Rickey's kinetic sculptures. Why is he less well known (at least to me) than Calder? His stuff is very cool. They had three roomfuls of indoor-sized sculptures and eight or ten giant ones outdoors. All of them move (hence the 'kinetic'), many in unexpected ways. My iPhone was almost out of power, so I didn't take any photos, but they wouldn't have done the pieces justice anyway. You'd need movies - the movement is really intrinsic to the effect.

(Connecting across the exhibits - I think I would've enjoyed the Nightmare Before Christmas exhibit more if I'd seen the film because having seen the characters moving within the sets would have made them more real to me.)

Year One

Aug. 12th, 2007 11:04 pm
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[livejournal.com profile] creed_of_hubris and I have been married one whole year as of today. It has been a good year. :) Today, to celebrate, we slept in and then had a late brunch at the new vegetarian restaurant, went to the very interesting Botero exhibit at the art museum and found an unexpected bonus exhibit of Allen Ginsburg's photography that we hadn't known was there, had a nice dinner at home with the good china and various wedding presents coming into play in the setting of the table, and watched After the Thin Man, which Tivo has been keeping for us along with three or four other Thin Man movies grabbed from a TCM Thin Man marathon.

Random thoughts:

The food at the new vegetarian restaurant isn't all that impressive. But the atmosphere is good and I feel like we should continue to support them in the hopes that the menu will become more inspired as they mature. I had the chicken fried wheat meat and mashed potatoes with cream gravy and eggs and toast. I was very full and even though [livejournal.com profile] creed_of_hubris helped with the gluten steak, I still have most of a steak patty and a mound of leftover potatoes and gravy in the fridge.

The Botero was kind of neat. I think my favorites were his rolly-polly homages to the works of other painters, including Velazquez's Las Meninas. The Ginsburg was both neat and sad. The photos were mostly of his beat-era friends, fellow poets and radicals. There were two sets of pictures, one taken in the late 50s and early 60s and another taken 30 years later. Some of the later ones were the sad ones, seeing what had happened to some of the bright young adventurers in later life.

I made non-meat loaf for our anniversary. It doesn't sound very romantic, but it was tasty. Also, that trick they say you can do, where you add cauliflower to mashed potatoes? It actually works. The mix was maybe 1/5 cauliflower, 1/5 parsnip, and 3/5 potato and if I hadn't made it myself I'd never have known the cauliflower was there.

I am looking forward to the rest of the Thin Man movies. They're fun. I like the witty diaglog. And the pretty clothes. And the relationship between Nick and Nora. They're obviously crazy about each other but playful rather than soppy.


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