Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Solstice Light in the Kitchen

As I have mentioned before, the light that comes around the winter solstice is my favorite. Here it is spilling out over my kitchen. Unfortunately, I am usually too crazy with the holiday preparations to take advantage of it.

Coco has been doing her best to help although she seems to think that trimming the tree involves nesting on the decorations.

At least the tree is finished! I am not so sure how much posting I will be doing before the end of the year as there is to this holiday than a pretty tree.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Moping on the High Line

A new section of the High Line park opened over the summer. I was uptown on the west side this morning so I thought I would check it out. The weather was weird, pouring rain while I was uptown. I nearly gave the High Line a pass, but I jumped off the subway at 34th just as the doors closed and the rain had stopped. Someone painted wings near the entrance to the park.

The new section starts at 30th St. near the West Side Highway. Although large signs promise new development, the area is still fairly desolate.

The park itself is pretty, but a little bland. I felt as if I were in an outdoor exhibit at one of the better zoos,

with graffiti no longer seen in the wild. Actually, I think I last saw the flying cat in Paris, which may be why it made me feel so sad. Or it might have been the luxury residence being built next to the cat. They are sprouting up like mushrooms all around the park, their windows inches from the fence. It should be amusing when people move in.

Then the battery ran out on my camera. The spare was flat too.

I had just enough juice to photograph this really fine sculpture by Sarah Sze.

It seems clear that everyone involved in the park is very sincere, planting the good plants, exhibiting the good artists. But every time I come here, I feel a little sad.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Moss Growing Where I Did Not Plant It

While I was working in the garden, I noticed that several rocks and bricks were growing moss.

It is perplexing how moss grows all by itself in some places, but when I try to cultivate it, nothing happens.
I think it is rock moss growing in the garden which is not the variety I have been using. I do not know if there is a name for the moss that grows between the sidewalks. I do know that rock moss will only grow on rocks.

Though this rock is really concrete so maybe I should try a rock moss slurry on the patio walls. It is late in the season so I will probably have to start over in the spring.

The garden is fading to yellows and browns.

Two of the vines that came over from the neighboring yards are deciduous, turning gold and brightening the wall.

The days have been gloomy and night sweeps in quickly during the late afternoon.

Hoping the solstice light takes over soon.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How Guy Fawkes Escaped the Pyre

My original plan was to make a bonfire on Guy Fawkes day and link it to its pagan origins. I wanted to make my effigy or "Guy" look like the masks that the Occupy Wall Street protesters have been wearing. I would add leaves and branches from the garden to refer back to the pagan traditions. They would also burn the bones of slaughtered livestock, but obviously I was not going that route.

A problem arose with my effigy. I did not really make an armature first, I couldn't think of good flammable material to use. So my guy looked a bit misshapen. His head was much bigger than his legs. He reminded me of a toddler mummy in a hospital gown. My beloved felt that the fallas effigy looked like a teenage girl. I could only imagine what my guy would inspire on the flames. I decided to keep him, with his missing arm and twisted leg and burn plants instead.

I skipped Guy Fawkes day altogether and planned the fire for Sunday which was the first day in winter time. I worked in the garden, preparing it for winter and raked up the leaves for the garden composter I bought. It is just visible behind the hydrangea.

I collected some amaranth, a few flowers and leaves, branches which fell during the hurricane.

The night came early and we lit the flame.

Although the plants were fresh, they caught on fire quickly.

The amaranth popped and sent sparks into the air.

The Guy watched from a safe distance.

The flames rose up high,

and then died down.

We sat in the heat of the flames and nursed our drinks (more of a Guy Fawkes day tradition, but a good one).

Sunday, October 23, 2011

More Moss, Some Autumn light

It seems that everywhere I go there is moss flourishing, even on the grimy streets in Chinatown. It is growing everywhere but on my patio. The light was heartbreakingly beautiful on Tuesday, and I decided to go to Central Park and check out the moss there.

Of course it was fabulous, cascading over rocks.

or gracing them with delicate feathers.

mixing with lichen.

Some of the rocks sparkled with mica, which is really hard to photograph.

This was as close as I could get.

I checked in on the elm trees since I missed their fall foliage last year.

I was a little early this time. Maybe elm trees have a very short period of yellow leaves.

There was another black squirrel.

I also saw a wild guinea pig, no doubt liberated from a nearby household. It was rather large and looked pretty content with its life. Before I could photograph it, a group of school children clattered by and the guinea pig wisely vanished into the underbrush. The park was swarming with children, everyone trying to enjoy one of the last beautiful days of the year.

When I was in the ramble, I found this bush with ivory pale autumn leaves.

I am entranced with its leaves and colors, but I was unable to identify it.

If anyone knows what it is, please let me know in the comments. I would love a bush like that in my garden.

This sassafras tree has my favorite tones of red and green.

Outside the park, there was a tree with its roots growing around the paving stones.

It almost looked as if the roots were upending the stones and tossing them around.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Troubles with Moss

I posted this picture first because the moss pictures are not the most dynamic. This parking garage reminds me of what New York used to look like before it became so much luxury housing and chain stores.  It is cool, understated with a kind of blue collar elegance.

I realized that part of my creative block has come from my difficulties growing moss. I know it is possible. Here is a thin strip of moss that appeared spontaneously under the mat on our concrete walk.

I planted some fancy Japanese moss seeds (sporangia?) in shallow pots a few weeks ago. We have been getting plenty of rain and they are sitting on the damp patio.

Nothing is growing though. Some moss growers on the web advise patience. They all seem to live in Seattle.

The moss I transplanted back in August (scroll all the way down) suffered a feline assault when the cats decided to excavate a corner of the planter and buried most of the moss.

Besides a few scrappy survivors, the rest was done in. My dreams of painting anarchy signs in moss are becoming wispier. Still I suppose I have to keep trying.

The other day, I went out to gather some moss and make a slurry. I found out that powdered milk is supposed to be a very good moss medium. Hunting for moss left me with many questions. Sometimes there will be a rich patch of moss and nearby, nothing. It does seem to be quite temperamental, although nyc moss seems to have a higher tolerance for debris than the more delicate hothouse mosses. I found all kinds of things in the moss; threads, hair, bits of glass, fur. I gave it all a vigorous washing when I got it home.

Near some of the moss, this odd little plant was growing. It reminded me of lichen although it had leaves. It was very flat and mixed with the moss.

In other news, the amaranth that I chose to symbolize autumn has grown in wild directions and tangled up in the netting from the pea plants like a band of drunken sailors. Maybe that is simply what amaranth does.