Monday, May 23, 2016

savannah - anticipated and unexpected

Savannah is a wonderful small city to visit -leafy and tranquil and, well, old feeling.  Who knew that, for example, John Wesley had spent a year here?  At the same time, it's very quirky: yes, it's full of tourists - lots in little carriage-like buses, some in horse-drawn carriages - others, scooting along ...

Savannah is, as I was expecting, full of late C18th and early C19th houses, leafy squares with Spanish moss;

statues to notables;

but one never knows quite what's coming next.

Somehow the guidebooks fail to mention the extraordinary very early C20th architecture.

The Jepson Center for the Arts had a great exhibition (that started at Crystal Bridges) on American Art today - very full of craft-oriented stuff, including some extraordinary paper cutting by Hiromi Mizugai Moneyhun based on Japanese kiri-e, or hand-cut paper arts: there were three pieces taking various hair styles as their inspiration - here's a fragment of Gisoeng (Korea), from 2014.  

Then Angela Drakeford had a terrific piece, Self- Portrait II - flowers made of tar paper - and an artist's statement talking about its relevance to the fact that she was attacked for being too white in primarily black schools, too black in predominantly white ones.

And who knew that there were all kinds of unsuspected C19th riches in the Telfair Museum of Art - mostly American, but some European, and this wonderful mawkish Arthur Hacker, who went on to do all kinds of ghastly sub-Sargeant, sub-symbolist stuff, but executed - evidently - some early realist paintings, like the Crimean War themed Relics of the Brave (1882-3): it looks rather Newlyn School to me, but I don't know how far his connections with them went - though he was at the RA with Stanhope Forbes.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

name the city?

Is this Manchester?  Is it Leeds?  No, it's Savannah, Georgia, and this is the Cotton Exchange, built in 1886 By William G Preston (a Boston architect).  First impressions of this city (most of which doesn't look remotely like Northern England) is that it's very quiet and lovely.  But if you think there's something strange about this building, look again - you're right.  It's built over a street (that in turn leads to the river).  I'm glad that it's not earthquake country...

Saturday, May 21, 2016


You know those plans?  The ones that involve sending off tidy boxes of notes and books and clothes and saucepans, and then being impeccably organized, and ready to enjoy one's last day in NC, with the car not only neatly packed, but with lots of space for stray things.  Yes, those plans.  The ones that don't begin to answer why I had to make one last emergency trip with LOTS of boxes to FedEx, or why Alice, so far, has been in the passenger seat carrying four orchid plants, or why all the best-possible-plans for a 10 day road trip - from mosquito repellent, to napkins and sharp knifes for picnics to - yes - the road map, and printed out directions for every stretch of the trip - well, they were planned, and they're in the car somewhere, if you'd like to dismantle my mosaic of packed goods.  Please can I roll the clock back a few days, and start again?

Friday, May 20, 2016

the best meal in North Carolina?

No, we didn't eat this.  It was a table decoration at Herons Restaurant, at the Umstead Hotel, in Cary (that's near Raleigh-Durham airport ...) - and admiring it presaged an extraordinary meal.  If this had been LA, or New York, or London,we'd have had to wait weeks, no, months for a reservation.  Why the James Beard award this year didn't go to him, I can't imagine.  Probably I should have taken course-by-course pictures, instead of which I was eating as slowly as possible - the kind of food that was not just exquisitely tasty, and pretty, but full of complementary textures ... ok, it cost all eight of our arms and legs, but it was worth it, utterly (and a wonderful respite after a day in which, among other things, the furniture rental people were four hours late turning up in my apartment to take away all their faux-leather and probably faux-wood - a piece of bad timing that nearly, nearly threatened to mess up my collecting Alice at RDU - until I helped them by carrying out the furniture, too ...).

Thursday, May 19, 2016


Well, o.k., maybe not entirely - and I have a dark feeling that my car may not be nearly as big as I hope it is, and there are very many piles of xeroxes in my office to be squeezed into it, somehow.  All the same, I have quite a bit of experience at finding and filling its nooks and crannies, and there are no live cats to be fitted into it on this trip ... And my heart very decidedly sinks at the thought of having to clean this apartment tomorrow - and then the big questions: do I lug a broom and a floor mop across country?  Why do I have 21 rolls of toilet paper left?  I mean - I get the principle of bulk buying, but I was clearly pessimistic here.  What about half a jar of coconut oil?  Etc ...

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

desk mugs

Packing.  I should have taken more photographs before I started to pack, so that I had more of a record of absolutely everyday life in the apartment, but here, at least, are a couple of mugs on my desk.  This is a vestige of a photo project that I once meant to carry out - to take a photo of my desk top every day (but would I choose a home desk, like this, or an office desk, or a library desk, for that matter?).  I've made good progress with the packing, by the simple ruse of telling myself I need to clear out by tomorrow (wrong: Friday).  But apartments are the worst: even if I manage to snag a so-called loading space outside, there's a long corridor, an elevator, another corridor, a set of doors, another corridor, a flight of steps, and another door between me and the car.  If not ... well, a road to cross, a parking garage elevator, and then I should have arrived at a car that will appear to have shrunk in the night.  With all this in mind, I pack things into small bags: better a million journeys to and fro than struggling under Heavy Burdens.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


I'm missing the beach ... here's one of the two large shells I proudly gathered on Sunday - they are both a little battered by the waves, but are nonetheless quite spectacular (so much so that when I was walking back along the beach, people asked me where I'd found them).  Really, it's a matter of luck - you see a large shell being swept in by the waves, see it snag on the damp sand, and rush in and grab it before the next wave comes in and drags it back again.  There's probably some kind of metaphor lurking around in there.