I’ll Fly Away

Hello dear friends.  I believe I alluded to some family strife in a previous blog post. I wish I could report that the situation has improved. Sadly, it hasn’t. The last couple of days have been difficult. Of course you all understand that it’s not appropriate for me to go into detail here, as it is family stuff and I don’t want to speak negatively on my blog about people I love and care deeply about, no matter how incredibly frustrated I am. Just pray for us, if you’re so inclined.

For now, I’d like to share a video that I discovered through Fred Hatt’s blog Drawing Life. Fred posted about his photography experiments with the GoPro camera, which captures very cool visual perspectives. Here, a GoPro was strapped to an eagle as it soared through the French Alps. It is absolutely breathtaking; a real “bird’s eye view” that makes we wish I was riding on the eagle’s back, flying away from turmoil, taking in the extraordinary splendor of the earth, without a care in the world. See you all very soon.

Lilacs Everlasting

In the 1988 movie Rain Man, Tom Cruise’s character learns that his recently deceased wealthy father bequeathed him, in a stingingly worded last will and testament, his prized rosebushes. Not the $3 million inheritance Cruise was hoping for, but rosebushes. And a classic 1949 Buick Roadmaster convertible. Needless to say, Tom Cruise was none too pleased with the arrangement and interpreted the act as a stern father’s final slap in the face from his grave. While he may not be the most subtle actor in the world, it’s amusing to see Cruise exclaim with great frustration, “I got the rose bushes! I definitely got the rose bushes!”. If you’ve seen the movie you know that as the plot line unravels, the family drama and its secrets are revealed which provide answers. The father, of course, had his reasons for doing what he did.

I’m bringing this up because part of me has always related to people who value prized garden plants, who place their worth above money and inanimate possessions. I read a story once about an elderly woman who had moved several times throughout her long life and each time dug up her cherished peony to bring it with her and transplant it at the new home. Peonies, with proper loving care, can live up to 75 years. That’s not a mere “garden plant” anymore, that is a resilient, tried and true friend – as familiar and comforting a friend as many human beings we’ll encounter in life. I totally understand why that woman brought her peony with her. There’s nothing remotely strange or eccentric about it to me at all.

It was still winter when I moved into my house 15 years ago. While my then-husband and I spent the cold weather months buying furniture and installing shelving, I was thinking about the coming spring, and what flowering plants I would put in the only spot on the property that receives full sun: the front right corner of the house. It was a plot of dirt when Jeff and I arrived, but it wouldn’t be for long. Roses were definitely in the running but by the time March arrived, I had decided on lilacs. And I personally picked out the two young lilac bushes at my local garden center. They bloom at the exact same time every spring, as if on a precise calendar encoded in their DNA. That time is now. Here are my beauties yesterday:

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I came home from work the other night, tired, still sore in my left hip from doing a standing pose. The second I opened my car door in the driveway the aroma – that extra potent nighttime wafting of late May blooms – transported me to paradise. After a day of trains and buses and city crowds and drafty studios full of easels and turpenoid containers and charcoal dust, and elbow pokes on the E train and stench-filled corridors of Penn Station, the lilacs delivered me to peace. Before I went inside I strolled over to the lilacs, in the dark with my house keys in my hand, to inhale them at close range. My beauties. My babies for 15 years. At that moment my communion with the lilacs was interrupted by the sound of my neighbor across the street dragging his garbage can to curb. He saw me and waved. The next morning I took a few cuttings for the house.

Jose the landscaper cuts grass and trims bushes for most of us on this block. I happened to be home one day when he and his crew were working precariously close to my lilacs with pruning shears. I bolted out of the house and, in my best broken Spanish, instructed them to not do anything to those bushes. I wasn’t a bitch, I swear! I just made it clear that those bushes are not to be touched. At all. Ever. I am protective of them like a mother toward her children. It’s slightly embarrassing ;-)

I probably shouldn’t worry myself about such things, but the thought that someday, maybe decades from now, this house will fall into the hands of strangers who may very well bulldoze this property and dispose of the lilacs makes me sick. Honestly, it throws me into a nervous panic. I may have to draw up a will and bequeath them to a loved one! Or someone who understands, like Amy Lowell. Check out her poem “Lilacs”. New Englanders especially should read it.

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I invite readers to share pics of their prized garden growings, or stories, or memories. Tell me what’s abloom in your garden, or on your fire escape or balcony, or thriving wild where you are.

Our Birds Besieged

What the hell. Have I left my little blog idle for almost a week? This is outrageous! Bad blogger. Bad bad blogger :lol:

Much badder than me is the Port Authority of New York, which has enlisted contractors to gun down over 18 species of migratory birds and waterfowl in the area of JFK Airport. Many of these birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. But they’re being shot anyway. The rationale behind this program is to prevent bird strikes on planes and nesting activities too close to runways. Didn’t the waterfowl get the memo? They cannot conduct their flying, migrating, mating, and nesting along the Atlantic coast or around the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge unless they stay safely away from planes. That’s the rule. Because jet airliners own the skies now. Those foolish ospreys and herons and egrets have to understand that they must accommodate the needs of modern man, and the millions of years of instinctual behavior embedded in their DNA cannot be acted upon, their natural primordial impulses to survive and breed must be squashed. And those snowy owls that were nesting on top of a taxiway sign at JFK? Those dummies should have known better. Now they’re on the kill list too.

Herons, by Christian Rohlfs, 1936:

Rohlfs-Herons

I apologize for the sarcasm, as I don’t mean to minimize the issues with regard to bird strikes and airplane safety. But this wanton killing of our coastal feathered friends upsets me a great deal. Among the birds being targeted are herons, egrets, plovers, ravens, and the gorgeous American kestrel. And redwing blackbirds! They’re shooting redwing blackbirds for heaven’s sake. There must be a better way. Surely we can find a solution more humane than just blasting innocent birds out of the sky?

Winslow Homer, watercolor, Redwing Blackbirds:

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It was disturbing enough to learn recently that our magnificent North American eagles – hundreds of thousands per year – are being sliced up in the blades of wind turbines at wind farms throughout the country. Our government has now granted the wind energy companies permission to allow these deaths without fear of penalty, for the next 30 years. Ain’t that grand?

Geese In Flight Before A Full Moon, Ohara Koson:

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I love birds so much. I honestly don’t understand how anyone could not love them. They warble and sing outside my bedroom window every morning. They hop across my front lawn. They cheerfully perch in rows across telephone wires. They soar in the skies above my neighborhood. Eradicate all their colors, movements, and sounds from daily life and the absence would be sadly felt. And the observation of bird comings and goings inspires much of my other blog, The Salt Marsh. At this very moment as I’m typing on my laptop, one of those little downy woodpeckers is inching his way up the tree outside my kitchen. What a cutie :-)

New Blog

Greetings on a beautiful Sunday in New York! Hope this post finds you all well. I’m here to make an announcement of sorts, nothing that will alter the course of history or send shock waves into the universe! But something I’d like to share with my readers. I’ve started a second blog. Yay! It’s called The Salt Marsh. For those of you who are interested (and I hope many of you are) I suggest reading  the “About” page first.  And I might as well inform everyone now that there won’t be any nudity on The Salt Marsh. Stick with Museworthy for that ;-)

There are probably thousands upon thousands of nature photoblogs out there. I enjoy many of them myself. I’ll try to make The Salt Marsh unique somehow. Mostly it’s an opportunity for me to hone my photography skills, find a bit of peace from time to time, and deepen my connection to the natural habitats that exist right in my own neighborhood. I doubt I will post there as frequently as I do on Museworthy, as blogging can be quite time consuming. There are people who maintain multiple blogs – four, five, etc – and I don’t how they do it! Either way, if  some Museworthy readers choose to follow me there also that would lovely. And perhaps I’ll earn a new crop of readers as well.

Speaking of Museworthy, I will be posting the submission information for the Art Show very soon. We’ll have a new photo to commemorate Museworthy’s blog birthday on September 24th, in keeping with tradition. So Fred and I figured we’d wait until that picture is taken, as it may be one of the choices if it turns out to be a great one.

I actually have two modeling gigs this week, can you believe it? And before Labor Day, wow. It’s a miracle! :lol: Work is slowly coming back, and the summer is winding down. New blog, new season, fresh new discoveries on the horizon. I hope you all continue to share these experiences with me. Cheers friends! See you soon.

Free As a Bird

I crack the windows in my house and the furnace fires up. I tighten my scarf because I feel a chill on my neck. Back in February those know-it-all groundhogs predicted an early spring this year and yet it’s April and we got nothin’! This unseasonably cool weather is delaying the coming of spring and I don’t like it at all. The nip in the air just won’t go away, and it’s inhibiting my mood and activities. I think this officially qualifies as an abnormal seasonal funk :sad:

If it weren’t for the birds perched in the trees, singing their mating calls, starting to build nests, and noshing at my backyard birdfeeder, we’d have virtually no signs of spring here in the NYC area. This is why birds are awesome. They don’t give a damn. They go about their business in spite of rain, wind,  cold, providing visual and audible signs of energetic life even when the ground remains hard and dry and tree branches are still without leaf buds. Regular Museworthy readers may have noticed that birds pop up often on this blog in one form or another. Artistically and spiritually, I find them agents of cheer, beauty, and optimism. Right now as I write this post, I can see birds jauntily flitting through the trees outside my window and two plump robins digging for worms on my neighbor’s front lawn. Rock on my little feathered friends :-)

So to honor of the only creatures willing to carry on with springtime ebullience, here are a few birds of art created by some great masters.

Two Studies of a Bird of Paradise, by Rembrandt. Beautiful in pen and ink:

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The Kingfisher by Vincent van Gogh:

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Bird Returning to it’s Nest by Georges Braque:

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The cutest owl drawing I’ve ever seen, this is Albrecht Durer’s The Little Owl:

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The Promise, by one of my favorite surrealists Rene Magritte:

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And last but certainly not least, a bird by Picasso, work “Untitled”:

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Heaven and Earth

Easter Week – Charles Kingsley

See the land, her Easter keeping,
Rises as her Maker rose.
Seeds, so long in darkness sleeping,
Burst at last from winter snows.
Earth with heaven above rejoices;
Fields and gardens hail the spring;
Shaughs and woodlands ring with voices,
While the wild birds build and sing.

You, to whom your Maker granted
Powers to those sweet birds unknown,
Use the craft by God implanted;
Use the reason not your own.
Here, while heaven and earth rejoices,
Each his Easter tribute bring-
Work of fingers, chant of voices,
Like the birds who build and sing.

Krishna (Spring in Kulu), by Nicholas Roerich:

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At this glorious time of year, I hope all my readers have a very blessed holiday. I offer my warmest, sincerest wishes for peace, fellowship, strong spirits and joyous hearts, and respect for sacred earth.

See you soon :-)

Claudia

First Snow and the Critters

At first it was an annoyance. An early November snowstorm in New York City that caused treacherous conditions and added insult to injury after the still-fresh destruction of hurricane Sandy. But when I woke up this morning I experienced a childlike enchantment when I looked out the window and saw the winter wonderland of white covered twigs and branches bent over from the weight of snow. Even an avowed summer person like myself thought it was pretty cool.

What made the morning even more enjoyable was the presence of  critters in the garden. I love the word “critters”. Birds swarmed the birdfeeder oblivious to the fact that it was half-covered in snow. I love how birds don’t give a shit. They flit around, they eat, they chirp, weather conditions be dammed. Then the cats emerged, hungry, mildly irritated that they had to navigate around hills of snow and puddles of slush to get to the food bowl. And then a manic squirrel scampered across my roof, and in doing so sent a bit of snow down to the ground which landed in my driveway. And I also spotted some critter tracks in the snow. Not cat paws, not bird feet, but likely those of a raccoon who must have braved the blizzard last night in search of food and mischief. A nocturnal critter who, like the others, doesn’t give a shit about weather.

The Snow Maiden, by Mikhail Vrubel, 1895. Check out the squirrel in the lower right :-)

I am consumed in my personal life these days, friends. More so than my professional life. But it’s a good thing. It’s a very good thing in fact. Given how easy it is to succumb to stress and anxiety, and worry about the troubling developments taking place in our nation, our culture, and the world, I am positively grateful that I can immerse myself in some happiness and savor the affection being bestowed upon me. It warms my heart and soothes my soul. And I don’t take it for granted. We can turn to love, if we are lucky, or we can turn to music and art, or books, or friendships and family. And of course we can always turn to nature and the critters. CRITTERS!! :lol:

Deer in the Snow, Franz Marc, 1911: