Saturday, July 5, 2014

Those trees and etc.

Regarding yesterday's post, I wondered about the identity of a stand of trees on the Havemeyer Webb estate (the Shelburne Museum).  Those trees, by the way, line one side of Route 7 just outside of Burlington as it heads south towards the museum. We didn't find any of the gardening staff to ask about the identity of the trees. I'm sure they would know, but if they don't another short drive will get one to another part of the Webb family's estate which became the 1,500 acre Shelburne Farms, devoted to sustainable agricultural practices, which is also noted for its gardens.

As it happens, I took a few photos of the trees:

Geo may have identified the trees (Thank You, Geo!) They are possibly ligustrum japonicum. Whatever they are, I like them when they're in bloom.

Since I've gone this far, I might as well post a couple of the other pictures I took on the museum
grounds. As we entered the admissions building, it was impossible to ignore these haystacks which were standing outside. They aren't your everyday standard Vermont or New England haystack:

The reason for their appearance became evident a little later in the new exhibition gallery:

Monet - Haystacks in Winter

There are many gardens at the museum. This was one I walked by:

The following caught my eye. As I'll explain one day soon, I'm going to have to move some of my plants at Solar Hill to make more grazing area for the sheep. That includes moving my hostas. I used to have lady's mantle (with the chartreuse flowers) in my garden in Boston. I miss it and would like to have it again. I suspect I will copy this idea:

My heart goes out to those who volunteer:
The above garden was next to a building with an old wooden cellar entrance:

Which was (I think) across from this lovely old building, whose investigation is waiting for another time.

And that building was next to the giant chair. I suspect the chair came from nearby Gardner, Massachusetts - a mill town which turned out, you guessed it, chairs.

Well, Blogger is being a bit difficult again, the photos are either out of focus or I am (hey - it happens!) and I am way behind in the preparations for tonight's radio show. This seems to be the perfect place to leave off - a chair just waiting. I hope you get to sit in it one day.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Going fourth...

It's a rainy, cool July 4th morning here in Brattleboro. I used to really love July the 4ths. Until recent years, that is. A few years ago I had a job running a video store. It was a lot of work, but it was work that I more or less enjoyed, or to be more precise work I didn't mind all that much. I wasn't all that fond of the 12 to 15 hour days, and I recall a minor celebration when I actually got two days off one month. What I very much minded was not being fairly or properly paid, the promised raises that never arrived, etc. I quit that job on a July the 4th the owner made me work - it was going to be my first day off in two months. That impulsive action nearly destroyed my life; I was out of work for a long time. When I found work it was as a cashier in a supermarket where I was required to work on holidays, where I think I got one July the 4th off in five years. That company would schedule people to work for four hours on the fourth. I guess that had some kind of poetic ring to the Belgian corporation which owned the place. Three generations of my family had fought in the American Revolution; the day once held some meaning to me.

Thankfully, the rain this morning isn't another crazy thunderstorm. I like such storms, I like the call and response of streaks of lightning and replying thunder, the sound of the deluge of water cascading off the roof. Unfortunately, my vegetable garden is in a slightly flat depression partway down a hill, which puts it right in the path of rampaging runoff. It's a small veggie planting this year, but twice in the last week storm waters created havoc. (It has been several years since this last occurred.) Yesterday morning I spent a couple of hours fixing up the damage from the second storm. Last night there was another downpour. The rain will keep me out of the garden today, as will work on my radio show tomorrow. I must admit a certain nervousness regarding what I shall find when I get there on Sunday. I distract myself looking for July the 4th images to post from the mass media factories of America, trying not to think of the garden situation as a metaphor. 

Arlene Judge

Ava Gardner

Elizabeth Taylor

My thoughts turn to Americana. This past Monday, I became joyfully immersed in it. I talked a friend into driving two and a half hours upstate to the Shelburne Museum. It is not your everyday day museum. It was created by Electra Havemeyer Webb. Her parents, Louisine Elder and Henery Osborne Hevemeyer were wealthy. Very wealthy. Miss Electra Haveremeyer married Mr. James Watson Webb, a Vandebilt. They were very, very wealthy together.

Louisine and H.O. collected art. Louisine was touring the continent when she became friends with Mary Cassatt, who introduced her to a group of young unappreicateds who would soon be known as Impressionists. The Havemeyers became the first Americans purchasing their work. Most of the collection they acquired was left to New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art, where their bequest became the foundation of the Impressionist wing. Some of the paintings, however, were left to Electra. They used to adorn the walls of the Havemeyer-Webb apartment at 740 Park Avenue. (If an apartment there becomes available, it is said that you must show a minimum worth of  one hundred million dollars before the cooperative will even talk to you.)

Electra and Louisine Havemeyer by Mary Cassatt

Mrs. Webb was 19 when she began to collect Americana. She loved the large summer estate the family had near Burlington, Vermont, and decided to turn part of it into a museum for her collections. That kind of space was needed. When the last surviving steamship on Lake Champlain went out of business, she bought it and had it moved to the estate. It sits near a lighthouse she purchased. She showed interesting attention to detail - the estate has many wonderful gardens; the plantings by the lighthouse are the kind of rugosa roses one finds at the sea shore near lighthouses (they have an ability to withstand salt air).

The Ticonderoga is the only surviving vertical beam sidewheel steamship.
It is 200 feet long, and weighs 892 tons.
Just past the steamship were these trees - neither my friend (a college professor) nor myself have any idea what they are - please let me know if you do:
Blogger has suddenly decided that I shouldn't use the "caption" function - if I try, it deletes the picture. So... just a few steps further and one finds this giant chair:
(And, in case you are wondering, yes, that is your correspondent taking a break and sitting down.)
Mrs. Webb saved one local old Shelburne building from demolition, moved it to the estate, and reused it for her collection of the contents of a circa 1840's General Store, Post Office, Barber Shop and Apothecary. (There is a similar era dentist office on the second floor.) She occasionally bought the collections of others. Next to the barber shop is a room with over 300 straight razors, the collection of a wealthy lawyer.  I didn't take any pictures of the store (I was often too overwhelmed to think of it) but I did take a few in the apothecary.
When I commented on the placement of a couple of objects amusingly displayed in the store, the docent noted that they were "right where Mrs. Webb put them".
She also saved a local meeting house and had it moved to the grounds. It houses a collection of Vermont music.
She had a small pond installed next to the meeting house:
Elsewhere on the property are an old train station (with a 10 wheel steam locomotive), a carousel, a sawmill, a covered bridge, collections of carriages, Conestoga wagons, stagecoaches, hand carved circus miniatures, a jailhouse, textiles (a huge quilt collection), weathervanes, hunting decoys, an  1840's smokehouse, a Shaker shed, a round barn, a worker's stone cottage, and much, much more.

On the property, as a tribute to Mrs. Webb, the family built a reproduction of a fairly un-Vermont Greek Revival Vermont building she admired. In it they put five intact rooms from the Park Avenue digs. The rooms are stunning. The library, for instance, utilized dark wood moldings and black leather wallpaper. (I think I swooned at that point.) Throughout the rooms are the paintings Mrs. Webb's parents left her. Two Rembrandts, Corot, I think there was an El Greco, etc. In a basement room are bronze sculptures by many artists including Degas and Frederick Remington. A number of painting are not in the apartments at present - and therein lies the reason for this trip.

A new building on the estate currently has a temporary museum styled exhibition of the Impressionist holdings, punningly titled "In a New Light". Five or six Monets, several Manets, Degas, Corot, Cassatt. Even the doorway to the exhibit held promise (the Monet which was the source for this image in on display):

The first thing visible upon entering was Monet's "Le Pont, Amersterdam". Just to its left and several feet back was a large photograph of the actual scene. It was very interesting to note that Monet moved buildings and objects a bit to paint what he saw.

One Monet in particular haunts me, not quite to the point of obsession. The reproduction of it does not catch the colors at all. What appears here as a sort of reddish haze was actually sort of, well, not quite chartreuse, not yellow, but definitely early morning light through fog. I think the problem may be that this "Church at Vernon through fog" (near his home at Giverny) is a view Monet painted many times. I wonder if the online reproductions of the painting owned by Mrs. Webb is the same as the one on exhibit.

Blogger and my photo program are both acting up, which may be a last gasp of Mercury retrograde, or the electronics' method of telling me this post is too long, or contains too many graphics, so to rush to a finish...

The Cassatt at the beginning of this essay is also on display, along with several other pieces which I recognized from books, and a few I'd never seen before. I must post this one more, simply because its colors were so stunning, a Degas (what was it with Degas and ballerinas anyway? Maybe he just wanted to try on a tutu?) :

The exhibit was clever, stunningly beautiful, and the works are still in my mind's eye four days later. There was so much to see...

I must go back there soon.

Thursday, July 3, 2014



A Modest Proposal for the Preservation of Individual Rights and Liberties.
In Brattleboro- July 3rd, 2014

When, in the course of legal events it becomes evident that the separate and equal rights which the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God entitles us have become diluted, a decent respect for the opinions of others requires some explanation of the course of action being proposed.

Whereas the business community incorporated enjoys benefits of low to no taxes, taxpayer funded operating and research subsidies, the ability of the Officers of the Corporation to not be held personally responsible for the debts of the corporation engendered by them, legal protection of name and accounts against piracy, legal ability to financially influence elections and lawmaking beyond what is seemly, ability to discriminate against others on religious grounds, and sundry other benefits which are not available to the common taxpayer, a course of corrective action in favor of the individual is required. Corporations enjoy such rights, and corporations are considered to have the rights of individuals. Therefore, I humbly propose that each and every one of us becomes our own closely held individual Corporation.

In the state of Vermont, a “B corporation” (for Benefit Corporation) status is available. Decisions affecting the operation of such corporation take into account social and environmental missions, and a public benefit (i.e a percentage of profits donated to a specific cause) may be declared. Such a corporation may name specific benefit purposes, i.e. influencing educational standards that affect the children of our corporate families, by advocating for the teaching of fact based science, etc.

It might be best, however, to incorporate in some offshore country which exists basically for the evasion of taxes. As the corporation will advocate for wealthy and large corporate entities to pay a more equitable share of their income in taxes, this may seem ill advised. But in an era in which a company can successfully argue for a faith based exemption from providing health care which includes birth control, while that same company has investments in the manufacture of contraceptives, the concept of hypocrisy has obviously lost any meaning or sense of shame. Incorporating in another country could, therefore, be presented as a public display of our seriousness of purpose.

As the process of incorporation will require some small investment, as well as a Board of Directors of the corporation, I propose an even exchange – help me afford the cost and become a member of my board, and I will do the same for you.

As one of the first orders of business would be in the arena of public education, namely the encouraging of others to invest in individual corporations, we would, of course, offer advice and services to that end for a small fee. I would therefore suggest the adoption of a slogan on the order of “Control your fate – incorporate!”

Those interested in being on the Board of my corporate entity should contact me privately.

Thank You.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

getting there

My garden is at Solar Hill, which is about a 40 minute walk from where I live. It's an enjoyable enough walk, with a number of interesting buildings and front yard gardens along the way. I like the effects of early morning light.

Once I get about half a block down the street, I usually cross at about this point and cut through the town common. Currently, the white clover is in bloom.
There are momentary distractions along the way...
The wood on the side of the dirt road up Solar Hill.

I generally go there very early in the morning these days as I am now finding it quite uncomfortable to work in the sun after about 11am. The changes in just one day can be surprising. The berry like slightly out of focus red buds in yesterday's picture look like this today:

And the as yet to open gloriosa daisy from yesterday came into better focus....
The cemetery rose that hides in the day lily foliage was blooming too. I found its parent in a friend's family cemetery many years ago; it was in the mid 1800's section of the plots.  It is heavily scented, by the way.
Also new this morning:

On the way home, about two blocks from where I live, there is a legal office which painted its side wall this spring. I've already made this pic my desktop:

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

In the morning garden July 1st, 2014

Okay, it's like this. Somehow, even though I have more time to do things since I retired, I often feel like I have no time, meaning time available. I've been pushing off getting back to this blog as I am the type of person who would like to have things just so, and so on, and so forth, etcetera ad infinitum. And I should tell you first about Solar Hill, all properly illustrated with my own photographs, of course. I have a garden there within a much larger garden; and I should tell you about the gardens and some of the idiosyncrasies of the place, like the silent walkers. I do and don't want to note my frustrations trying to use the cheap point and click digital camera I purchased last year which I am still trying to figure out how to use, or to be more correct how to make do what I want it to instead of what it wants to do because it's a cheap point and click digital camera.

So, if I don't start posting a few of my pictures I'll never get this story started. It does take awhile to tell. That's the way gardens are. 

Early on the morning on July 1st, 2014...