Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer, and Vixen!

DSC07819 Saami and reindeer
Sami and his reindeer (Rangifer tarandus)

"On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donder and Blitzen!

This Sami reindeer herder is making sure that Santa's reindeer are well fed before their long journey ahead. Another day, I will write more about meeting this reindeer at the North Cape (Nordkapp), inside the Arctic Circle, and the indigenous people who practice reindeer husbandry. In the mean time, I hope you have a Merry Christmas!

"To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
"Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

- excerpt "A Visit from St. Nicolas" by Clement Clarke Moore

UPDATE: My post about the Sami People and their reindeer is here.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Pacific Coast Evergreen Wreaths and Garlands

IMG_9779 Pacific Evergreen Wreathmakers

My favorite place to buy garlands, wreaths, or fresh greens is Pacific Coast Evergreen at the San Francisco Flower Mart.  When I was there last month, the talented wreath-making team was assembling fresh magnolia-leaf garlands with pink peppercorns and eucalyptus knobs. 

IMG_9778 Pacific Evergreen Wreathmakers

I ordered several six-foot magnolia garlands with pomegranates, incense cedar, and pink peppercorns and then had them shipped to Houston. They make a convenient and dramatic centerpiece for the Thanksgiving table. The magnolia leaves are shiny and green on one side...

IMG_9940 Thanksgiving

... and a velvety brown on the other side. Other six-foot garlands graced the banister of the staircase and the fireplace mantle in another room. The colors will stay true for the entire holiday season.

thanksgiving table

Pacific Coast Evergreen also offers other designs like this wreath with rose-hips, china berries, oak leaves, and eucalyptus leaves...

DSC02628 autumn wreath

...and this one has a magnolia-leaf base with oak leaves, tree pumpkin, green seeded eucalyptus, silvery eucalyptus knobs, and red toyon berries.

IMG_9785 Pacific Evergreen Wreath

The client who ordered these last spring provided all the ingredients for these small wreaths. They used geranium leaves, two types of berzillia berries, and foxtail grass. For a closer look, click here.

DSC05825 greens wreaths

As long as the materials are in season, they can custom-make any size wreaths or garland. To order, contact Al:
Pacific Coast Evergreen
Phone: 415.781.4274

Hours (Pacific Time):

Monday: 300 AM – 1100 AM
Tuesday: 500 AM – 1200 PM
Wednesday: 200 AM – 1100 AM
Thursday: 500 AM – 1200 PM
Friday: 300 AM – 1100 AM
Saturday: Closed (open during peak holiday seasons)
Sunday: Closed

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Nobel Peace Prize

Photo: Time
The Nobel Prizes hold special meaning in my family because my father worked for Elsevier Publishing when we lived in Amsterdam. For five years he was the science editor for the English-language series of all the science-related Nobel Prize Lectures from 1901 to 1966.

Though my father did not work on the Peace Prize, I was thrilled to see The Nobel Peace Center (Norwegian: Nobels Fredssenter) when we visited Oslo this summer. It is located in an old train station building overlooking the harbor in the Pipervika area.

IMG_3136 Nobel Peace Center

A temporary exhibit by Kendell Geers was installed in front of the Peace Center. Geers is fascinated by words with double meanings and those that exist in “symbiosis”. 

IMG_3135 Nobel Peace Center Exhibit

In Slaughter/laughter, the neon leading “S” flickers on and off. Originally created in response to the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center, Geers suggested that Slaughter/Laughter could also reflect the story of Alfred Nobel, whose discovery of dynamite ultimately led to the establishment of the Nobel Peace Prize. 

The Nobel Peace Center is within view of the Oslo City Hall (Oslo rÄdhus), just across the Vigeland Fountain.

IMG_2761 Oslo

IMG_2759 Oslo City Hall

Its distinctive white clock faces the harbor.

IMG_2760 Oslo City Hall clock

On the opposite side of the building is the main entrance with a double swan fountain…

IMG_2979 Oslo City Hall

… a beautiful astrological clock…

IMG_2980 Oslo City Hall clock

…and enchanting wood bas relief carvings depicting scenes from Norwegian folk tales.

IMG_3012 Oslo City Hall bas relief wood carving

Every year since 1990, on December 10th, the Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony takes place in the grand Central Hall.

IMG_2990 Oslo City Hall center hall

Numerous Norwegian artists won commissions to complete the decorations of the hall.

IMG_2992 Oslo City Hall center all staircase

IMG_2994 Oslo City Hall gilded swans

Henrik Sorensens painted the large mural on the south wall between 1938 and 1950. Titled “Administration and Festivity” depicted scenes from Norwegian legends and history, including many from World War II. 

IMG_2986 Oslo City Hall  central hall mural

Alf Rolfsen painted the mural along the staircase.  The scene at the bottom of the stairs depicts the legend of St. Hallvard, Oslo’s patron saint. 

IMG_2987 Oslo City Hall center hall mural

The story of St. Hallvard is a constantly recurring theme in the decorative elements of the City Hall. According to legend Hallvard was a highborn youth who in 1043 tried to save a woman from being assaulted. He took her aboard his boat in order to reach safety on the other side of the fjord, but they were pursued and killed, Hallvard being shot by three arrows. His body was weighted down with a millstone and thrown into the sea, but both his body and the stone floated up to the surface. When this became known, the local people saw it as a sign and worshipped him as a saint. Hallvard was originally buried at Lier, southwest of the town, but when the Oslo Cathedral was completed in 1130, his bones were placed in a shrine before the high altar. Two centuries later Oslo took into use a city seal depicting the St. Hallvard legend. The present coat of arms was designed in 1924, when the capital was about to change its name from Christiana back to Oslo. Against a background of stars in the sky, St. Hallvard is shown sitting on a throne of two lions. He holds a millstone in one hand and three arrows in the other. At his feet lies a woman. The surrounding inscription reads Unanimiter et constanter Oslo(united and resolute).

IMG_2989 Oslo City Hall mural

The intricate tessellations look like a beautiful blending of M.C. Escher’s and William Morris’ art.

IMG_3010 Oslo City Hall staircase mural

IMG_2997 Oslo City Hall staircase mural

At the top of the stairs is the Munch Room with the beautifully adorned ceiling...

IMG_3000 Oslo City Hall Munch Room

...Edvard Munch's painting "Life" as the focal point...

IMG_3002  Edvard Munch (1863 - 1944) "Life"

Edvard Munch (1863 - 1944) "Life"

...and furniture with the elegant wood frames and upholstered with tapestry in a shade of blue so characteristic in Scandinavia.

IMG_2998 Oslo City Hall blue furniture

Down the hall, through these richly-decorated wooden doors…

IMG_3003 Oslo City Hall decorative wood detail

…is the grand dining hall, which boasts the painted portraits of the King Harald V and Queen Sonja…

IMG_3006 King and Queen of Norway

…and a large dining table lined with Scandinavian blue chairs...

IMG_3007 Oslo City Hall dining chairs

...upholstered in a tapestry with a regal flying swan pattern…

IMG_3008 swan chair

...which matches the chairs reserved for the 2010 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, and his wife.

Photo: Reuters
The Nobel Committee recognized his participation in the 1989 demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, where he urged student protestor to remain peaceful, and his continued non-violent struggle for human rights in China. Xiaobo is serving an 11-year sentence in China for subversion and was unable to be present to receive the award. The unclaimed award and document were left in an empty chair meant for Xiaobo. His wife’s chair is also vacant because she was placed under house arrest by the Chinese government. Nobel committee chairman Thorbjoern Jangland spoke at the ceremony: “Liu has only exercised his civil rights. He has not done anything wrong. He must be released.”

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Beginning Photography Class

IMG_6434 point reyes lighthouse

It's nearing the end of my Beginning Photo class; I'm studying for my final and working on my final portfolio. I am grateful for all I've learned this semester. I learned how to [gulp] shoot in "M", manual, mode.

I sharpened my observations skills...

IMG_6456 meters

... and how to be more aware of colors...

IMG_6296 Swiss Chard

... of negative space...

IMG_6449 point reyes lighthouse

... and the rule of thirds...

IMG_6404 two horses in point reyes

I learned how to control the depth of field...

IMG_7712 sharpen your pencils

20101021_2271 choo choo
7 take action shots...

IMG_7523 double

...and night shots.

IMG_6114 Public Parking

I shared precious moments...

IMG_6260 cheers

... and learned that portraits are best when taken in context.

20101030_2407 nonagenarian

I was inspired by Edward Weston...

IMG_9703 Palace of the Legion Honor Staircase

and Irving Penn,,,

IMG_7960 radishes

...but found out this was very difficult.

That just means that I have to take some more classes, but maybe I'll take a break next semester. Flickr slideshow, including previously posted shots, here.

1. Point Reyes Lighthouse
2. Meters, Point Reyes Lighthouse
3. Rainbow Swiss Chard, Point Reyes Station Farmer's Market
4. Point Reyes Lighthouse
5. Point Reyes hiking trail
6. Sharpen Your Pencils
7. With brio!
8. Stockton, CA
9. Redwood City, CA
10. Cheers!
11. Nonagenarian
12. Palace of the Legion Honor, San Francisco, CA
13. French Breakfast Radishes

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