Wednesday, February 27, 2013

REDnesday: 27 February 2013

One of the things I love about our new place here in Texas is the birdwatching -- we don't have to wander far from home to see lots of gorgeous birds.  At the moment, we have a pair of Cardinals hanging out somewhere around our property, and they show up most mornings at our birdbath. Haven't been able to get a shot of the lady Cardinal yet -- she's much more easily spooked than her hubby bird. (Click on photos to enlarge.)

Male Cardinal -- Mr. Early Bird

They're sometimes joined by one or two little House Finches, adding just a bit more color to their birdie spa.

Cardinal and House Finch brightening up the birdbath

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Blue Monday: Springtime Blues

Blue Monday is hosted weekly by Smiling Sally.
To see more offerings, or to participate yourself, please head on over to her blog.

Well, it seems to be springtime around here!  We're still having some cold spells, and a few cloudy days, but also lots of stuff blooming.  It's happening even sooner than I expected.  And I LOVE that.  Just look at that beautiful clear blue sky.

Also love the yellow flowers. Forsythia? Japonica?

But even though I love the gorgeous weather, I know the drought here in Central Texas is wreaking all kinds of havoc -- and we probably haven't seen all the effects yet.  And around the Hill Country it's very hard to ignore.  These are a couple of shots I took this weekend when we were out looking at Lake Travis.

Lake Travis from around the Point Venture area.

In ordinary times, most all that sandy beach area would be covered with blue water.  The lake is down almost fifty feet below normal levels, and not likely to come back anytime soon.

Looks like a construction site, but it's just "beach"!

It's still a great recreation area and wildlife habitat, but if the dry spell goes on much longer, water rationing is a real possibility.  Not looking forward to that.  Also, you can see how it's causing a lot of heartache for all those home owners with lakefront property.  If you enlarge the photos, you can see all the steps going down the hillside -- in better days, they would have ended at the waterline!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Blue Monday: Artistic Blues

Blue Monday is hosted weekly by Smiling Sally.
To see more offerings, or to participate yourself, please head on over to her blog.

I might have mentioned (just possibly -- once or twice) that last year M and I moved from Virginia back to the land of our forebears. No, not England, Scotland, Wales, Germany or France.  Texas.  And, although I had my doubts at first (and although I really do love Virginia and enjoyed all my years there), I haven't regretted moving at all.  I'm loving the weather and the new house and all these wide open spaces.  And it's been wonderful to reconnect with family and old friends, and revisit the haunts of my youth.  We're both having a great time and haven't really looked back.  Much.

But I have to confess -- I do miss the museums.  I've been trying to organize some of the photos I took during the last year or so, in preparation for a scrapbooking project I have in mind (more about that in a later post), and I found bunches of shots I took on our last couple of trips to the National Gallery in Washington DC.  And it's made me a little sad that I can't just run out, hop on the Metro, and spend the day browsing the Smithsonian museums.

Ah, well.

Not that Texas doesn't have great art museums -- we do.  But ain't nothin' can equal those magnificent collections in DC.

Just get on with it!!!!  (I hear you saying.)

OK.  Here are a few shots that caught my eye as I organized.  Pretty paintings.  Lots of blue here.  (Click on images to enlarge.)

This has always been one of my favorite paintings -- Edouard Manet's The Railway (or The Gare Saint-Lazare), painted in 1873.  When I was a little girl, I soooo wanted that white dress with the big blue sash.  And now that I'm older, it's still one of my favorites -- I "collect" pictures of women with books, and this is one of the finest.  

I also LOVE that doggy asleep in her lap.

Another painting that I've always found interesting is Jan Gossaert's Madonna and Child (ca. 1532) -- mainly, I think, because it has one of the most hideous infants in the history of art! But it's another one of my "women with books" paintings (the Virgin is frequently pictured reading, of course), and I love the swirling blue fabric of her gown.  Sort of electric, isn't it?

But this time, I was mostly impressed with her footwear -- had never noticed those tres chic sandals before!

Even though I've been to the National Gallery many times, I always find something new with each visit.  Last time, one of my discoveries was this Family Portrait by Francois Hubert Drouais (painted 1756 -- sorry about the angle, but it was hung very high up on the wall). Lots going on here. 

Lovely little girl. Notice that her mother is adorning her (powdered!) hair with a crown of tiny blue flowers,

and that she's dressed in a very adult style. Hard to believe, but in the 18th Century, children (both boys and girls, apparently) were expected to wear corsets (or stays) -- supposedly to help their bodies develop properly and encourage good posture (see a photo of children's stays here).  Imagine engaging in a brisk game of tag or climbing a tree in this get-up.  But it is a lovely shade of blue.