Saturday, May 31, 2008

A day at the zoo. Same day as gazillion grade school children, dragging their parents, smiling or crying through elaborate face paint, the day a lovely stroll past animals indifferent to our parade. Lost in their own worlds, they pursued their interests, a drink of water, a nap under bamboo, playing wildly with cage mates, or building a house within a house.

I can watch the big cats with fascination, their langour matched by eyes that know they have no natural enemy. A nature film makes me turn away, the rapid chase, the one fierce bite at the back of the neck. That reminds me of rabbits mating, the male holds the female by the back of the neck. I saw birds mating at the zoo as well, flamingos ruffling feathers and calling raucously. It must be late spring for them.

My favorite: a large rhinocerous bathing, coming up for air, delicately making room for his/her roommate, much like some people I know in a crowded house, so polite, so much weight, one avoids drama. This was a totally lovely day with friends and family spent in the sun, captured in a photo at the end of the day by a fanciful raindeer fountain, Philadelphia in the early summer.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

In an afternoon of wandering at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology, I found this small sculpture of Avalokitesvara, the boddhisatva of compassion (and also the patron saint of Tibet). His 1,000 arms are shown in the upward position of prayer, and his 11 heads in meditation. Here in Philadelphia, family concerns swirl around us. Some family and friends are seriously ill, so this time in the museum felt like an island. Just now a songbird welcomes morning, and so another day begins. May you and yours be well.

Friday, May 09, 2008

An afternoon drive down to the Philadelphia Art Museum led us to a small yet fascinating exhibit of Art Deco and Japanese kimonos from the 1930s and 1940s. We are used to seeing exquisitely formal Japanese kimonos with richly detailed embroidery, but here the surprise came in seeing kimonos designed for men. On the outside, expect austere black, but on the inside beautiful paintings and stenciled art delight the eye. Perhaps like a tattoo, unexpected and provocative.

This first kimono (a man's formal jacket from 1930s to 1940s) is shown inside out. I'm noticing most likely a poem on the right, with two little red "chops" (marks of the writer of the poem?), and then a wonderful painting of a Buddhist monk on a journey across water, perhaps to Japan's sacred island of Miyajima. How many provisions he takes for his journey!

A pair of infant boys' kimonos called Miyamairi (1920-1930), worn on the infant's first visit to the family Shinto shrine, drew my eye. Here the designs are hand-painted, recreating marvelously graceful carp (symbols of strength and perseverance) that float among willow leaves.

These simple lines are so beautiful. We'll be going back next week for the Frida Khalo exhibit, but this first dipping into current exhibits was wonderful. Happy Mother's Day to everyone!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Yesterday we wandered through Chanticleer Garden, billed as a 30-acre pleasure botanical garden. Flowering cherry, dogwood, and magnolia trees were matched with tulips, orchids, hydrangea, rhododendron and wild flowers everywhere. Every step brought new sights to see, and we simply wandered slowly throughout, appreciating the creativity of the plantings.

My camera was busy (photos are uploaded in webshots), but what a wonderful day, romantic and serene. We'll bring Rachel and Nick when they come in and return with Gordy and Lynda. Unforgettable. I learned a new flower (the brilliantly blue Himalayan poppy), but I don't think I'll be seeing it often. We also spotted this mystery orchid.

The writing goes well IF I start first thing in the morning. And I'm going to continue writing poems, though maybe not a poem every day. We're back in the big city. That means drivers do not use turn signals, stop at stop signs, or follow speed limits. At least on the east coast. It also means really fresh bagels and Sundays free entry at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. May your day go well.