Friday, June 28, 2013

Victorian Paper House+Creativity with Paper

Years ago while visiting London, I saw a wonderful museum called the Pollock's Toy Museum and if you like toys of all kinds, both new and old and a step back in time, this is the store to visit.  I bought a book which included a Victorian House, furnishings and descriptions.  The idea was to cut out and construct the home.  The book was put away with other memorabilia from the trip.  Recently, I decided to cut and paste the house together.  I did enjoy doing this more than I thought and it brought back memories of doll houses and special toys from my childhood.  What is amazing, is what you can do with paper and I have noticed from time to time advertising using paper sculpture.  Pop-up books are special too and I have a small collection.  Looking at the photos, the back view shows rickety stairs, but you have the idea of the perfect "Upstairs, Downstairs" view of a Victorian home from the expensively furnished family rooms to the tip top rooms of the servants.

You can enlarge the home's two views by clicking on the photo.

You can twist and mold paper, make paper mache, and make all kinds of models. Encourage your kids to think about architecture/design by making their ideal room in miniature.  All you need is paper, pencil, scissors and glue.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sleep, sleep, blissful sleep or not. . . ?

We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life 
Is rounded with a sleep.

The Tempest (4.1.168-170) 

Ah yes, something we all do every night, easier for some, difficult for others, sleep -- perchance to dream, we hope.

In my younger days, I loved to sleep, it came easily, I fell asleep in a few minutes.  Not so any more.  Two versions for me --  cannot get to sleep which sometimes seems like hours, or I wake up four or so hours later and cannot get back to sleep.  I sleep fairly well probably one day out of four.  Have tried taking all those over the counter things which left me hung over and light-headed the next morning.  Then the usual remedies, hot milk, get up ans read for a while, etc. etc.  Sometimes they help, sometimes they don't.  Now, I have an overwhelming desire to lie down in the afternoon and nap.  Hate doing this, as then it is probably harder to sleep at night.  This has been going on for a long, long time and affects my energy level which is minuscule and bothers me greatly as I have so many things and projects I want to do but. . . .

But a good nights sleep is very important to your health, I read, so off to the sleep lab at our local health provider, and in order to find out why.  I was given a little gadget to attach to the index finger of my left hand, which is wired to a small computer which records heart rate and oxygen level for one night.  It was tricky to fall asleep, hoping the wire did not fall off, but I did it and I returned everything the next morning.  Have not heard back as yet.

This gave me an idea for a topic for this blog.  How many of you have trouble sleeping and what do you do about it?  This precludes all those moms and dads with babies -- that is a separate issue which, in time, resolves itself.

This is what Hemingway said about sleep:  "I love sleep.  My life has a tendency to fall apart when I'm awake you know."

Do creative people have a harder time sleeping -- too many ideas spinning around in their heads?   Or do they (you) get your best ideas at night which interferes with sleep?

The latest idea I was given was to wear sun glasses two hours or so before bed which cuts down light and technically turns on the melatonin.  I have been doing this, not sure if it helps, but it does add a bit of panache to the pajamas I wear.  Meanwhile --- would love your ideas.  

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Fire, Fire. Nature is not kind.

Colorado, my home state, is susceptible to forest fires.  We have huge conifer forests which, when conditions are right, can turn a lovely wooded area into a Dante inferno.

Two days ago, in the afternoon, perhaps started by a lightening strike, a forest fire started in the Colorado Springs area called Black Forest.  Because of the hot, dry and windy conditions, it quickly spread.  Now, still not contained, 360 homes have been destroyed so far, 38,000 people have had to evacuate and find shelter.  Two people died.   Countless animals including horses, livestock, pets have had to be rescued and accounted for.  Shelters for animals have been set up as well.  The hardest part would be not knowing if your home is still standing. Their lives will never be the same.

The sky is gray and at the beginning, we could see the smoke plume from our house and as we step outside, we can smell smoke. We are about 40 miles away from the fire.

A few years ago our home, too, was threatened by a much smaller fire, but we did have to evacuate.  Fortunately, the weather changed, the temperature dropped as it was October, and the fire fighters were able to contain it. Our house is the closest to the smoke in the photo.

So we wait, watch television for the latest news, knowing that, if conditions were right, it could happen here.  And hoping we can help in some way.  And we can, perhaps if only financially.  There may be other things we can do to help.  We know that people would do the same for us.

Castle Rock Fire, 2003.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Joy in Restoring Historic in Limerick, Ireland

Have you ever fallen in love with an older home that needed a great deal of work, but somehow spoke to you.  "Help, I am worth saving."  Older homes can be like aging beauties, "Don't look at me as I am, but remember me as I was."  There is so much history within walls of older homes,  both sad and  happy, but in need of care and interest, and this is one of the challenges -- in need of money.

In the June 7th issue of the Wall Street Journal,  there was an article that caught my eye.  "Ireland's Neglected Georgian Gems."  Merritt Bucholz, an American architect, living in Dublin, is slowly restoring a Georgian, five-story house, in a not-so-nice neighborhood on the edge of Limerick's Georgian quarter.

Original Georgian architecture, classically inspired, built during the 18th century, primarily, features a boxy style, symmetrical exterior, paneled front door topped by an elaborate crown top, chimneys on both sides, and multi-paned windows, never paired.  There are many versions and  many row houses built with the same characteristics.  A beautiful example here in the United States is the Westover Plantation, built in 1730 by William Byrd, founder of Richmond, Virginia. The wings of  the home were added much later, but you can see the classical Georgian style in the main house.

Limerick was an 18th-century boom town but has not been included in Ireland's recent booms, although the residents of Limerick are doing what they can to restore some of the Georgian homes.  Mr. Bucholz spends one night a week in Limerick where he is the head of the architecture department at the University of Limerick.  He bought his Georgian home (not the one pictured here, of course) for $288,000 and so far the restoration has cost him another quarter of a million.  The house was gutted almost totally from the inside as he began with the original bricks. "I think of these old buildings as organic things, slowly becoming part of nature."  It does not bother him if cracks appear after reconstruction, as he says the house has to resettle and come together.  His goal is not to create a perfect home but to re-create the essence of the structure.  To appreciate a building that is 300 years old is not for the faint-hearted and takes a certain amount of courage, vision and patience.

Westover Plantation, 1730, Richmond, VA.  Stephen Lea.
Frank McCourt, author of Angels's Ashes grew up in Limerick, Ireland, although he was born in the United States.  And his memories of Limerick are not glowing ones of Georgian homes, but of heart-wrenching poverty.  There is so much sadness in the world, that to find beauty where you can and appreciate long-ago craftsmen, builders, gardeners, architects, to me, is a worthwhile goal.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

D Day, The 6th of June, 1944, A Huge Turning Point

"The world will little note nor long remember,"  Taking a line from the Gettysburg Address.  D Day was a huge turning point in World War II.  There were 10, 000 dead, wounded and missing in action that day.  And here we are 69 years later; a few lines, in some papers, nothing mentioned in most.  This was a cartoon by Rick Detorie, in the Denver Post.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Pinterest, My Version

I have tried to sign up with Pinterest, but no luck, so I am creating my own.  Actually, I have had this bulletin board in my office for several years.  Yes, it is very low tech, but it is fun, and reflects my interests.  Beginning with the upper left corner, a picture of my darling friend Gail who died of Alzheimer's; a photo of Ali Mc Graw with her Scottie (love the Black and White photo); an ad for Autism using a little kid as Tommy Hilfiger who has a child with Autism; a cartoon of Dave Brubeck's jazz group highlighting the empty piano chair when Dave Brubeck died (love"Take Five");  photo of a perfect outfit, French of course; photo of June H. a mom of a friend who was 100 years old on June 2nd (she still plays Bridge with her many friends, what a role model); another black and white photo, an ad for linens made in Italy, read the copy);  Great Dane relaxing (I heard that they are affectionate and love to take naps); Me at Children's Hospital on Dr. Seuss's Birthday; a crush from the past, Omar Shariff, Dr. Zhivago and Lawrence of Arabia, (sigh);  a paper sculpture of the Black Hills of South Dakota; photo of a Library; I collect pictures of real libraries; and last but not least, a sketch my wonderful cousin made of her little beach house, herself and her animals, an invitation to a party. You can click on the photos to see details.

Note to adult children:  No pictures of grandchildren because I have so many  properly framed, all over the house.  My BB is selfishly, all about me.