Sunday, May 17, 2009

Borrowed Landscape

Borrowed landscaping is great, until the rightful owner takes the source of your delight away. I've been cringing, weeping, seething and so on over the brutal removal of a "snowball" plant in our neighbor's backyard. Until now sweeping branches abundant with cascading blossoms beautified our side of (our neighbor's) ugly old fence.

Just the other day I looked down at the veil of green on green,from the kitchen window, knowing that the green spheres would soon burst into bright white balls.

But no, a man for hire —not a gardener, but a whackedy whack wacko— came with giant cutters and wiped-out the spring beauty before it could truly blossom. Mocha was the first to notice something was wrong. She barked her head (and mine) off. "Something amiss, something amiss."
Already enough of the green had been removed for me to have a clear view of the man in the adjacent yard. I greeted him, and realizing what he was doing, I exclaimed, "Oh, no, you're cutting the blossoms, they haven't even come to bloom."
He laughed. "Yep, it's all coming down, making room for something new."
Thinking of what my neighbor had promised me, to leave something I asked, "Can't you leave the part that's coming across the fence?"
"Nothing will be left?"
"Only the memory," he said.
"Oh, but then I better get my camera."
To my surprise he stopped whacking momentarily, but then I saw him retreat with his cell phone, it must have rung.
I shot some pictures and then I retreated. If there's something I can't stand it's something of beauty being ruined or killed.
After the man was done one lonely tall branch remained.

That sad flag sticking out above the busted fence reminded me of our other neighbor, who (as if cutting down fifteen (15!) trees in her backyard hadn't been enough) took the shears to a gorgeous giant gardenia in her front yard.
At first I thought her pruning was getting along quite nicely, but at some point she couldn't reach the top of the bush, I saw her standing on tippy toes, performing an awkward dance, stretching her arms up as far as she could. She must have grown frustrated, for when I passed her house later that day, she'd cut down the whole plant, leaving a stump, and one lone branch as a sorrowful reminder of what had been, her yard waste bin filled beyond capacity.

What was a rustic corner of our yard before, now shows only a rickety fence behind our ancient green chain linked. The gaps between the fallen planks take away all privacy, and the view into the other yard isn't pretty. Plastic garden chairs, the waste bins, a blue tarp. From our kitchen window you can see the miserable heap of what was a joy to the eye.

The borrowed landscape was gorgeous while it lasted, but it is no longer. Opportunity awaits, it's time for something new, our own.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Justice is Served James Paroline Murderer Sentenced

Ten months after our friendly neighbor James Paroline was murdered while watering the traffic isle at the cross street in front of his house, a few blocks south of ours, Brian Keith Brown, the man who caused "Jage" Paroline's death by delivering a single blow to his head, was sentenced to eleven years and three months in jail.

Source The Seattle Times

By the way, so far I've read elsewhere that Paroline was a mortgage broker, but to me he is the Missouri School of Journalism educated writer and storyteller who was always willing to engage in a meaningful conversation.

Rest in Peace Jage.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Ton Lutz I.M.

Yesterday one of the theater greats of the Netherlands, the eminent Ton Lutz died, he was 89 years old. Born into a family of theater makers, he started acting when he was twelve. Ton Lutz was an important actor and director, whose work spans three quarters of a century.

A photo of Ton Lutz and his stage and life partner Ann Hasekamp, taken by Hans Joachim Schröter in 1969, can be seen at Wikicommons.

For me Ton Lutz will always be the teacher who taught me THE lesson a young stage designer needs to learn.

In 1982 Ton Lutz was invited to take on the role of teaching director for the duration of one term at the Gerrit Rietveld Art Academie. We students were required to design the set and costumes for "De Getuigen" (The Witnesses) by Flemish playwright/author Hugo Claus.
I perceived three out of the four characters in the play as despicable, real asses (or dick heads). So I designed latex fake bald heads with an accentuated fontanelle .

Ton took one look at my drawings and said something I've never forgotten. If I told the audience that much with my designs, there wouldn't be much left for the actors to say. So, it was back to the drafting board for me.

Possibly his remark would eventually lead to me choosing studio art over stage design, but as long as I worked in the theater, Ton's remark rang in the back of my head, and whenever my designs (or I) wanted to take center stage, I knew to take back this or that.

I learned all I would ever need to know about upstaging from the best.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Painting with Plants

"All gardening is landscape painting," said William Kent. Couldn't agree more. And that's what we've been doing all day long. The moment I stepped outside to get the newspaper, early this morning, I was at it with clippers and HoriHori (my favorite garden tool).