December 1st, 2013 by Celia

Late Autumn Beauty, Wisconsin Style

summers-walkway

It was absolutely balmy in Portland today; overcast, moisture in the air and fairy warm. The trees and grass were still so alive, so green and festive. Contrast this with Wisconsin 3 weeks ago: the earth was festooned with oranges, yellows, maroons and browns with a bit of green here and there. Snow lingered. The air was dry. And it was cold, down to 15 Fahrenheit. Autumn is so very different between here and there. The thoughts of my taste of winter in the fall will have to tide me over for who knows how long; years? I am one of the opposition, you see. A Minnesotan/Wisconsinite who adored winter and enjoyed it more than any other season. Yes, I even liked diving in it, even in Duluth, a city know for its hills and cold winters. When I hear people back home complain about winter it breaks my heart. So forgive me while I savor it here.

Here are a set of photos from that wintery-type of autumn back home. They are from my friends’ house out in the country in St. Croix Falls, save for the one directly below. That’s Summer and her dog Tippy. We went for a walk in the woods and couldn’t resist the whimsy of the downy white seeded asters as a photo background. It was such a beautiful day, and a great time with a friend. Read the rest of this entry »
November 27th, 2013 by Celia

Succulents, Norfolk Pine and Comfy Quilts

sedum-in-coffee-can

My friend Summer is a real green thumb. Like literally, the girl is a serious gardener.

As long as I known her, she has been surrounded by a plethora of healthy, beautiful houseplants. Summer was the only person I knew in high school to have plants in her room. I really fell in love with one, it was a spider plant. Summer’s spider plant was extra special because it hung from a beautiful handmade planter/light from a local potter, Leif Bjornson. One of my favorite things to do with Summer while at her house was to investigate her houseplants. I guess things haven’t changed much because I still like to admire her plant-adorned window sills.

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November 22nd, 2013 by Celia

The Unexpected

cherry-blossom-unexpected
Things associated with autumn:
  1. fallen leaves
  2. colder days
  3. longer nights
  4. rain and coulds
  5. plants dying back
  6. hot cocoa
  7. hearty meals shared with freinds
  8. turning inward, self-reflection
  9. feeling sleepy
  10. picking up crafts like knitting or drawing
  11. chickweed, cleavers coming back to life
  12. hayrides
  13. apple cider

 

Things you DO NOT associate with autumn:

  1. cherry blossoms
  2. rhododendrons blooming
  3. crocuses
  4. violets
  5. dalhias
  6. roses

 

And yet, all those plants are flowering right now! Read the rest of this entry »

November 19th, 2013 by Celia

County Road S Trail to the St. Croix River

tree-and-cliff-cty-rd-s

One thing I love about Wisconsin is that the county roads are represented by letters, not numbers. When there are more than 26 county roads, the letters double up. I will never forget the time Rob and I were driving through northwestern Wisconsin, south from Duluth to St. Croix Falls. At a gas station, we were alerted to a major detour. Rob went inside to ask for directions for the detour and he came back looking mischievous. “The lady in there swore at me”, he said with a smirk. “She said F-U, then told me to double F-off”. Of course, the detour meant we should take county road F to county road U, then take county road FF.

November 18th, 2013 by Celia

An Old Time Autumn Walk

scf-trail-

There’s a trail in St. Croix Falls, WI by the river I have to visit it every time I go home. It is a solitary, silent place. Even in the summer, it feels colder than the surrounding area. Sometimes it is muddy and the seldom-used trails are swallowed by the forest. This becomes a problem since I habitually arrive here about 2 hours later than I intended, and I have to race the setting sun as I fumble back to where I think I parked the car.

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November 13th, 2013 by Celia

Comforts in the Window Sill

sage-1
I just returned from a trip to my hometown. When asked what I was going to do on my first day back in Portland, I said “look out my bedroom window”. And that is what I have done!

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October 15th, 2013 by Celia

Have You Ever Seen Something So Beautiful

Borghese-park
Have you ever seen something so beautiful that it brought tears to your eyes?
Something unexpected happened while touring a museum. I entered a room with a great sculpture, and instantly upon viewing it, my throat choked with a cry and my eyes welled up with tears. The beauty was overwhelming, figures coming to life then in a fated turn of events, one figure transforms into a tree.
It was Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne, finished in 1625 and housed in the Borghese Gallery. I had seen it in books and didn’t think much of it prior to viewing it in real life. Just another statue by another Italian master. Statues are everywhere in Italy, street and museum alike, so their commonness impedes on their potential to impress. Still now when I view photos of it, I don’t see what moved me, but I can still feel its reverberation in my heart.

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October 12th, 2013 by Celia

Victorian Gallerias of Naples, Italy

galleria naples bike rider
Naples, Italy: the birthplace of pizza, Sophia Loren, and the Mob, and home of a number of amazingly beautiful gallerias. I have to say I didn’t know what a galleria was until seeing them in Naples. They are essentially indoor markets, covered shopping malls with open air entrances built during Victorian times. Being from Minnesota, home of America’s first indoor shopping mall and the famous Mall of America, my idea of shopping malls is quite different. Read the rest of this entry »
October 7th, 2013 by Celia

The Eternal City – Roman Forum Ruins

forum view large
It’s entertaining and edifying to learn about ancient Roman culture from bits and pieces of buildings. I can see how they were an advanced culture, ahead of their time, in the remains of the homes, buildings and public places left behind.

We toured the Roman forum, a group of preserved remains of the old empire dating as far back as 50 BC. There were temples, churches, the senate building (birth place of so-called democracy), triumphal arches celebrating leaders/tyrants sacks of neighboring lands, as well as the mundane markets, houses, watering holes and orchards¬† of the average folk. As we moved away from the dense old city center into the sprawling gardens and green space of the Palatine hill, I could almost feel what it was like to be live here. The climate is so mild, the abundant sea close, markets to trade and hear news and politics, public places like temples, churches and baths to come together; I can see how the people thought they were the bee’s knees.

The drone of traffic, horns and sirens faded away. All that could be heard was the cooing of birds and a gentle breeze through the olive trees. The green grass was sprinkled with wild thyme and periwinkle phlox and it almost felt like other places I’ve been, like Vermont or Oregon, until I almost trip over a cache of column bits or decapitated statures.

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October 6th, 2013 by Celia

Roman(tic) Garden Side Street

vintage bug rome
The sounds of these sidestreets were playing children, distant sweet accordion music and the klickity-klack of dinners being made. And of course the streets were covered in plants of all sorts. Vines dangling like tinsel on a Christmas tree, flowering over window frames and doorways, grapes full of fruit that were actually quite edible spilled over into reach. Read the rest of this entry »