Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July reads

Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins
Silly and lovely beach read...yes, it's young adult chick lit, but it is witty and well-written.

Moonwalking with Einstein, by Joshua Foer
Fascinating read about memory contests and how we remember our world.

Slammerkin, by Emma Donogue
Harlots in 1760s London...certainly not a world I knew much about to this point.  The main character makes me really, really frustrated.  But the train wreck nature of the book kept me reading.

Also, for your word of the day, slammerkin is slang for a polonaise, or the type of loose overfitting skirt/gown as seen here:

Effectively, the top part of the gown (with the sleeves, corset, and the sides of the dress) is the slammerkin; it goes over layers of petticoats, with the outermost being either the same color and fabric as the dress, or a different color, like this one:

The reason for using it as the title is that slammerkin is also slang for a harlot (loose dress, loose woman). 

For another interesting read, I also read an article about toshers this month---they were men who used to comb the London sewers for money and anything salvageable in the 1800s.  But wait...there were tides.  Terrifying.

Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand (the author of Seabiscuit)
I love descriptive nonfiction.  It's a wonderful story.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Garden Update

The oregano is going crazy.  I can't wait for it to be cold enough to make the always delicious lamb pie!

Pattypan squash don't taste like much, but they're so darn cute!

Strawberry flower!

Content chocolate mint

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Art of the Cape Ann Museum

The Cape Ann Museum is a small art and history museum in Gloucester, MA.  It features exhibits about the local sailing and fishing trade, the granite quarry, and local artists, both present and past, all in a beautiful building close to the center of town.

"The Dancing Girls"
Charles Hopkinson (1869-1962)

Apparently John Singer Sargent, a famous painter of the time who painted the murals in the Boston Public Library, visited Charles Hopkinson with none other than Isabella Stewart Gardner (of the museum), and gave Hopkinson the idea for the painting.

They had two boats in a large room in the museum, and both looked fairly unassuming...until you read the plaque that said a man went across the Atlantic in 66 days in this tiny little boat, all by himself.  And he capsized during a storm, but apparently the ship was so well-designed that he was able to right it in 20 minutes!  This is when I start feeling like I need to accomplish something. 

portion of "Cape Ann"
Leon Kroll (1884-1974)

"H. H. and her sister"
Charles Hopkinson (1869-1962)

There was also a portrait downstairs of Virginia Lee Burton, the woman who wrote "Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel" --- what a blast from the past!

Her husband was a sculptor, and she founded the Folly Cove Designers, a group of artists who began the renaissance of linoleum block printing on fabric as an American art form.

There was also a wonderful room with Marsden Hartley paintings - think Georgia O'Keefe but bleaker. 

The verdict?  Highly recommended for a summer day trip.  It's an easy drive, and there are innumerable other places you can stop on the way up or down for food: seafood, Kelly's Roast Beef, ice cream...there are options.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Day Trip - Gloucester, MA

On Sunday, a few friends and I went up to Gloucester to visit the Cape Ann Museum and say hello to the ocean!

Summer absolutely requires ice cream. 

No real beach, but a lovely harbor and surf crashing against the rocks.

Down the boardwalk.

See the spray?  You had to watch out, sometimes it came up and over the breakwater!

Monday, July 23, 2012