Winter clouds ~

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This photo puts me in mind of summer, but it actually shows a rare sunny January sky in Southern Illinois in 2013. In going through closets I found an old Canon point-and-shoot and discovered I hadn’t downloaded the images on the SD card. This was one of them. (Interestingly, in my list of tags for this blog, “Clouds” is followed by “Coffee,” which is followed by “Coincidence.” How perfect is that? If this reference is opaque to you, check out Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain.”)

Let sleeping cats lie ~

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Despite the recent elevation of Norman Rockwell’s reputation in the art world, he’s still not my cup of tea, and I still see him more as an illustrator (albeit a superb one). But there are definitely things to admire about his art. For example, in his painting “Facts of Life,” which shows a father telling his embarrassed son about the birds and the bees, he has included a sleeping cat (shown above) under the father’s chair, and kittens playing on the boy’s chair. It’s subtext par excellence: a sly way of directly depicting the very topic—sex and reproduction—that is being so earnestly discussed in the abstract. It also cleverly pairs the adults (man and cat) and the young’uns (boy and kittens): experience on one side of the painting; innocence on the other. The boy might well envy the kittens for not having to endure an explanation of what’s eventually coming (pun intended).

This work is in the collection of the University of Kansas’s Spencer Museum of Art. See the full version at https://www.wikiart.org/en/norman-rockwell/facts-of-life.

The hand that holds the handkerchief holds the power ~

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This is a small detail of another painting in the collection of the Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas. The painting, done sometime between 1610 and 1628, is a portrait of Maria Maddalena, Grand Duchess of Tuscany and Archduchess of Austria. The duchess and her mother-in-law ruled Tuscany as co-regents for several years after the death of Cosimo II de Medici. In this detail I especially like the exquisite depiction of the lace bordering the handkerchief.

Crawfish, I guess ~

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I’m going to return to museums for a few posts now. This is a small detail of a large painting by Cristoforo Monari (1667-1720) titled “Still-Life with Dog and Fruit.” Given the scale of various objects in the painting, I’m assuming these are some kind of crawfish rather than lobsters. (Someone more familiar with crustaceans will undoubtedly be able to set me right.) I must say, the one in the front looks rather fearsome. The work is in the collection of the University of Kansas’s Spencer Museum of Art.

The spider and the hawk ~

With the exception of various insects and one very loud flock of Canada geese passing overhead, that’s all I saw today at the Frank State Wildlife Area, a bit southeast of Fort Collins on the Cache la Poudre River trail. And I don’t have a photo of either. The spider was a spindly thing the color of a liver spot; the hawk was far away. (I actually saw the spider a second time, on the way back. It had moved just slightly on the trail. Perhaps it wasn’t feeling well.)

Concrete is not what I think of as a trail, but this little section drew a lot of cyclists and walkers today, when the temperature was in the upper seventies. My dogs and I walked for about an hour. We didn’t cover much territory—less than 2 miles—but we were all thirsty and hot long before we got back to the car.

Frank S.W.A. is made up of recently reclaimed gravel pits, and parts of the area have been closed as recently as late 2015 for mining. I could hear traffic noise from a nearby two-lane highway the whole way—except for moments when the wind picked up. I’m still looking for a place to go out here on the plains near Loveland that doesn’t feature lots of traffic noise, or a view of houses. It was a nice walk, though, and will be much nicer when the trees leaf out. These are iPhone photos, rendered a bit shakier than usual due to the wind.