Monthly Archives: February 2012

Looking for a Black Swallowtail Chrysalis

I am looking for a Black Swallowtail chrysalis to film. The last generation of the previous summer’s black swallowtail caterpillars spends the winter in their chrysalis form. Often times the winter chrysalis is a woody brown, not green. The late season caterpillar may pupate under the eaves of a house, along a porch or deck rail, or on a fence. I am hoping that amongst all my many readers, someone has a brown Black Swallowtail chrysalis in their garden.

Black Swallowtail chrysalis, green form

There are several distributors from where butterfly and moth chrysalis may be purchased, but I would prefer to film a Cape Ann specimen in its natural habitat (or at least a Black Swallowtail chyrsalis from the New England area). Please let me know if you think you have the brown form of the Black Swallowtail chrysalis. THANK YOU!!!

Black Swallowtail chrysalis, brown form–image courtesy Google image search

Think Pink!

 Chasing Away the Winter Doldrums

The stem I always manage to snap when unpacking the tulips-

Kay Tompson sings Think Pink! in Funny Face (1957, starring Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire)

Think pink! when you shop for summer clothes.

Think pink! if you want that quel-que chose.

Red is dead, blue is through,

Green’s obscene, brown’s taboo.

And there is not the slightest excuse for plum or puce

—or chartreuse.

Think pink! forget that Dior says black and rust.

Think pink! who cares if the new look has no bust.

Now, I wouldn’t presume to tell a woman

what a woman oughtta think,

But tell her if she’s gotta think: think pink—!

-Music by George Gershwin with Lyrics by Roger Edens

State of Massachusetts Birds

Chris Leahy speaking to a packed house at the Sawyer Free Library.

As is usually the case with Chris, his talk was brilliant and depth of knowledge inspiring. Aren’t we fortunate that he resides in Gloucester and always gives so generoulsy of his time and knowledge. Thanks, too, to the Sawyer Free for hosting this event. Chris gave out to our community twenty-five copies of the beautiful and densely illustrated 60 page seminal report on the avifauna of Massachusetts. If you did not receive a copy last night, it is available to read in convenient online magazine form here: State of the Birds: Documenting Changes in Massachusetts Birdlife. 

From the forward of State of the Birds, written by Edward O. Wilson, University Professor Emeritus in Entomology Harvard University. “

Dear Friends,

It is with tremendous enthusiasm that I mark the release of Mass Audubon’s seminal report on Massachusetts avifauna, State of the Birds 2011. Though our Commonwealth is one of the smallest, most populous states in the union, it is blessed with spectacular landscapes filled with an astonishing biodiversity. The Berkshire Hills in their autumn splendor, Bald Eagles soaring over the Quabbin wilderness, the majesty of the sea at any season from Cape Ann to Cape Cod—these and many other treasures inspire our imagination and lift our spirits. These landscapes are home to birds—birds that can show us, when we watch and listen, how our environment is faring and how it is changing.

…Birds inhabit our myths, appear in our poetry, and inspire our music. Since ancient times, birds have been used in auguries to make critical decisions or predict the future. Now science rather than superstition is interpreting what the birds are telling us. We need to listen carefully.”

Sincerely,

Edward O. Wilson

Antennae for Design

More About Depression Era Quilts ~

Reader Sandra G recently wrote: Thank you for Sharing the Antennae For Design Article and Photo. I recently acquired a Vintage Butterfly Quilt Top, that has me puzzled as to what the fabrics are and dating it ? The Butterflies appear to be very similar to your Photo. I am clueless about this Quilt Top and any help would be greatly appreciated. You have a great Website and Blog!

Depression Era Butterfly Quilt Top

Butterfly Quilt Top Detail 

I asked her to send photos and she did send several. I do think this is a Depression era quilt for several reasons. The red butterfly especially, with the cheery cherry printed over the red and white polka dot fabric, looks very 1930s-1940s. All the butterflies are hand-embroidered, which also leads me believe the top is from the Depression era. It’s really a charming quilt top, and beautifully made. I love the design placement of the butterflies. The colors are so vibrant–the finished quilt will make any room sing. What a great find Sandra G.!

* Note ~ a quilt top is just that; the top only. Quilt tops are a wonderful way to acquire a vintage quilt. For some reason or other, the quilt was never completed. Ideally the quilt top would have been tucked away and stored out of direct sunlight–just waiting for some industrious- type to complete the job! If stored properly, you’ll find the vintage fabrics in their original vibrant colors as sunlight and repeated washings are most damaging to textiles.

Butterfly quilt top hand embroidered detail

The Hidden Beauty of Pollination

“Beauty and seduction, I believe, is nature’s tool for survival, because we will protect what we fall in love with.” –Louie Schwartzberg

Friends who are aware of my butterfly and nature film projects send me the most exquisite images and links to films and videos. Thank you Emily for sharing The Hidden Beauty of Pollination, created by Louis Schwartzberg, award winning photogragher and cinemetagrapher, who has been filming time-lapse flowers and pollinators for over thirty years. Once on youtube, click the icon to see the full screen version, which is without a doubt the best way to view this extraordinary short film (only about 7 minutes in length). The second link leads to a brief talk given by Schwartzberg, also very well worth seeing.

Louie Schwartzberg: The Hidden Beauty of Pollination

The second sentence in Schwartzberg’s quote reminded me of a quote from Baba Dioum, the noted Senegalese poet, “In the end we will conserve only what we will love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.”

Why the sudden interest in the Jodrey State Pier

There is beautiful assortment of waterfowl inhabiting the harbor. While there filming the birds and trying to get closer (ever closer!), I’ve become fascinated with the graphic industrial compositions from atop and from below the pier. For example, the above snapshot of Gloucester’s iconic Paint Factory, through the piling’s grid.

Snapshot from Jodrey State Pier

The Jodrey State Pier is named after Everett R. Jodrey, a barber by trade and activist sympathetic to the fishing industry. Jodrey envisioned a changing waterfront and eventually won support to construct a state fish pier in Gloucester. The money was appropriated in 1931; the pier opened for business in 1938.

Special Events at Willowdale Estate

Happy Birthday Briar!

As many know from reading my posts, my dear friend, and one of my favorite design clients, is Briar Forsythe, proprietor of Willowdale Estate, located in Topsfield. I was delighted to attend Briar’s birthday party, which was a wine and food tasting event, and held in the new conservatory at Willowdale. Usually when there I am up to my elbows in design projects so it was a real pleasure to get a sense of how it feels to be a guest.

The party started at 4:00 and the late afternoon sunlight streaming through the conservatory windows lent a warm and welcoming glow to the event. The service was absolutely impeccable (do you find that is not often easy to say?). Chef Joe Joyce and staff had prepared simply the most elegant and divine tasting courses, paired with wines that perfectly complemented each dish. All the wines were delicious and I can imagine they would be great paired with any number of meals.

Unfortunately, I did not take a snapshot of the first course, which was a  Duxbury Oyster with Champagne Foam and Blood Orange Caviar, served with a sparkling Dibon Cava Brut. I love sparkling wines and found this perfectly not overly sweet. I am not going to go on and on telling you how super delicious was all–it was–and hope the photos give an idea. The wines were provided by Geoffrey Fallon.

Sweet Pea Agnolotti, Lobster Tail, Vanilla Aioli and Pea Shoots Paired with Lamoreaux Chardonnay

 Crispy Pork Belly, Poached Apple, Celeriac Puree, Micro Dijon Greens Paired with Arabanta Rioja
 Seared  Tenderloin of Beef, King Oyster Mushroom, Bone Marrow Cracker, and Bordelaise Paired with Pietrantonj Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
Braised Lamb Shank, Grilled Polenta, Mustard Greens and Baby Turnip Paired with Armandiere Cahors 

Visit Willowdale’s website—they are a full service special events venue, specializing in their own in-house fabulous catering. Tours are offered throughout the year and many Gloucester companies do business with Willowdale, including several of our local florists and photographers.

Click last photo to see slideshow of all party pics.

Chris Leahy at Sawyer Free Library

Chris Leahy is a fantastic speaker and I am looking forward to attending his lecture next Thursday night at the Sawyer Free. Chris holds the Gerard A. Bertrand Chair of Natural History and Field Ornithology at Mass Audubon. He has been a professional conservationist for more than thirty years and served as Director of Mass Audubon’s Center for Biological Conservation. His interests in natural history are comprehensive, and he is a recognized authority on birds and insects. His published works include Birdwatcher’s Companion to North American BirdlifeThe First Guide to InsectsIntroduction to New England BirdsAn Introduction to Massachusetts Insects, and The Nature of Massachusetts. He grew up in Marblehead and has lived in Gloucester with his family since the 1970s.  ~ Information found on Mass Audubon website.

Think Spring!

Narcissus ‘Ziva’

Which version do you prefer, black and white or color?

Beginning in November, we maintain a continuous flow of blooming narcissus by planting a new batch every two weeks or so. Paperwhites ‘Ziva’ blooms before the first of the year and ‘Galilee’ just after the holiday season. The ‘Chinese Sacred Lily’ (Narcissus tazetta var. orientalis) is almost as easy to force and has a sweeter, though no less potent fragrance. The scent is a dreamy blend of orange and honeysuckle. They are also a member of the tazetta group bearing multiple blossoms atop slender stalks, with white petals and cheery yellow cups. The ‘Chinese Sacred Lily,’ brought to this country by Chinese immigrants in the late 1800s, is traditionally forced to bloom for New Year’s celebrations.

With both paperwhites and ‘Chinese Sacred Lilies,’ place the bulbs in bowl or pot and cover with stones. The emerging green tips should be poking though the stones. Water up to the halfway point of the bulb and place in a cool dark room; an unheated basement is ideal. Water periodically and within a week or so, new growth will be visible. Then place the bulbs in the room away from strong light, continue to water as needed, and once in bloom, they will flower and scent your home for a week or more. Illustrations of paperwhites and the Chinese Sacred Lily, as well as the complete chapter, can be found in Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! Notes from a Gloucester Garden (David R. Godine, Publisher).

Happy Valentine’s Day! Part Two

Reblogged from Good Morning Gloucester ~

Birth of Pop Art

In 1962 Jim Dine’s (1935- ) work was included, along with Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Robert Dowd, Philip Hefferton, Joe Goode, Edward Ruscha, and Wayne Thiebaud in the historically important and ground-breaking New Paintings of Common Objects curated by Walter Hopps at the Norton Simon Museum. This exhibition is considered one of the first Pop Art exhibitions in America. - wiki

Images courtesy Google image search.

Public Access to Public Landings?

The Public Trust Doctrine is a legal principle that dates back nearly 2000 years, which holds that the air, the sea and the shore belong not to any one person, but rather to the public at large.

Wonson’s Cove Rocky Neck 

Yesterday my husband, our dog, and I were walking along Wonson’s Cove through the muck of the low tide zone when a woman approached us, at first with a friendly hello. We smiled back and said hello. She immediately became confrontational and informed us that we were trespassing, demanding that we turn around and leave. We politely said that we believed we had the right to walk across the beach especially as we were heading to the Wonson’s public landing. She became livid and said she was going to call the police. I said okay, call the police. She then made some very rude remarks.

I do not wish to inconvenience or offend any property owner however, I had my camera and we were clearly only there to enjoy the great beauty of the cove. We were not littering or damaging the beach in anyway, as a matter of fact, large amounts of trash washes ashore and accumulates at that little beach and I have often come home with armfuls.

What has been your experience in a similar situation?

Below I’ve posted the Public Trust Doctrine of Chapter 91, The Public Waterfront Act, and underlined the information I think is particularly pertinent for photographers and for all lovers of nature. The complete chapter is posted in the Read More section and here is the link to the Mass DEP, or Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection page that highlights Chapter 91.

Through Chapter 91, the Commonwealth seeks to preserve and protect the rights of the public, and to guarantee that private uses of tidelands and waterways serve a proper public purpose:

Preserves pedestrian access along the water’s edge for fishing, fowling and navigation and, in return for permission to develop non-water dependent projects on Commonwealth tidelands, provides facilities to enhance public use and enjoyment of the water.

Seeks to protect and extend public strolling rights, as well as public navigation rights.

Protects and promotes tidelands as a workplace for commercial fishing, shipping, passenger transportation, boat building and repair, marinas and other activities for which proximity to the water is either essential or highly advantageous.

Protects Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, ocean sanctuaries and other ecologically sensitive areas from unnecessary encroachment by fill and structures.

Protects the rights of waterfront property owners to approach their property from the water.

Encourages the development of city and town harbor plans to dovetail local waterfront land use interests with the Commonwealth’s statewide concerns.

Assures removal or repair of unsafe or hazardous structures.

Read More… Continue reading

Antennae for Design Circa 1930-1940 Dressing Table

Winter is the time of year when I especially enjoy working on interior home improvement projects. This fabulous vintage dressing table and mirror set were found at a local antique shop. I wasn’t planning on a dressing table for my new sewing room/guest bedroom, but after seeing the dressing table —it was going for a song—I made a split second decision and purchased the pair.

Aren’t all the compartments in the drawers wonderfully practical? You can’t find anything made like this in today’s marketplace. I love that it is a very substantial width and height. The original and smaller circa 1930′s dressing table has had a larger custom-made top cut in a curved design. The whimsical glass tabletop lends a Hollywood Regency feel to the piece. The chest of drawers needs a fresh coat of paint (or several), but I will have to wait for spring when the windows can be left open to tackle that part of the project. A new length of fabric is needed for under the glass as well. Perhaps a silk moiré in pale watery green or blue as the thick glass has a greenish cast.

For the new skirt, I had a bolt of Ralph Lauren floral chintz on hand, which gives it a rather Nick and Nora meets summer cottage look, but I think too, in the spring, I’ll make another skirt, perhaps this one in sheer white cotton voile or dotted Swiss.

If I can help you with your interior design project send an email or give me a call. I look forward to hearing for you!

Thanks to Joey for showing me how he creates videos in one take. I couldn’t shoot this video in one take as I had to take the skirts on and off, but this is definitely a super fun and streamlined way of creating videos.

I almost forget to mention that inside one of the drawers was a heavy, solid lead engraved plaque-award given to Mrs. William D. Vogel by the Milwaukee Newspaper Guild for outstanding service to the arts. Doing a very quick Google search, I didn’t find too much about Mrs. Vogel, however her father was Ralph Harman Booth, publisher of a large newspaper chain, Booth Newspapers, and Detroit Institute of Art philanthropist.

Quite possibly this lovely dressing table was Mrs. Vogel’s, or her mother’s, Mrs. Harman, or possibly her daughter’s summerhouse dressing table. I would love to know the provenance of the piece, especially as the table top and chest set appears to be someone’s home-made and creative combination.

The narrowest strip of land between a body of freshwater and of seawater

Niles Pond

My favorite places and time of day to walk our sweet terrier Miss Rosie Money Penny (also know as Rosie, Rosa, Rosalicious, Rosalita, Rosebud, Rose-Muffin, Rosie-Pie…) is at sunset and all around my East Gloucester neighborhood and water’s edge of Eastern Point. The above photo was taken from the narrow strip of land that separates Niles Pond from Brace Cove. It is believed that at one point, not too long ago, Niles Pond was a lagoon, which was sealed off by rising sand and rock. Over time, it became a fresh water pond, fed by springs and rainfall.

Surrounded by reflected light from the sea, sunsets are gorgeous from nearly any Cape Ann vantage point. Luminous light is made all the more atmospheric from moisture in the air; combine that when seen through the golden lambent glow of sun’s low slanting rays– I call that heaven on earth!   Click photo to see full size image.

Wonson’ Cove Rocky Neck

Simply Stunning Work in Progress

Gloucester: A Community of Neighborhoods

Juni and Maggie Rosa discuss design elements of the Eastern Point panel.

Yesterday I had the joy to meet Juni Van Dyke and several members of the Rose Baker Senior Center art class. Juni and her students are working on a project titled Gloucester: A Community of Neighborhoods. Each fabric panel measures approximately five-foot square and illustrates through iconic imagery characteristics unique to Gloucester neighborhoods. The banner’s design in it’s entirety, along with the individual artist’s whimsical designs and choice of fabrics, is utterly captivating and a vibrant visual feast.

Maggie’s extraordinary interpretation of the archetypical Beauport window. The window mullions frame a collection of antique glass in varying shades of lavender to deep grape.

This is not the first grand scale project of it’s kind created by Juni and the fiber artists at the Senior Center. The banner titled From Sea to Shining Sea: Celebration of the American Landscape that is currently on view at the Senior Center lunchroom was also exhibited at the Lexington Heritage Center for six months, and it measures nine feet in height by thirty feet in width.

Lois Stillman’s elegant rendition of the birch tree clump at Niles Pond

Eastern Point panel detail with Mother Ann and butterflies.

I am honored to have been invited to create a butterfly for the Eastern Point panel although I think they have it beautifully covered. The whimsical swirl of butterflies in the upper left corner was created by students at the Eastern Point Day School and the beautifully detailed Monarchs fluttering around Beauport by Maggie Rosa.

Lois stands in front of the panel she designed. Note her genius interpretation of the Abram Piatt Andrew Bridge, replete with cars (click photo to see larger version) and including Nichols Candy House. Her deep love of trees is apparent in the beautiful and skilled manner she has stitched and pieced many different species of trees created for the panels.

As the work on Gloucester: A Community of Neighborhoods unfolds we’ll bring you more stories and detailed photos about this vibrant and captivating work of art in progress–there are simply too many beautiful tales to tell in one post!

Juni and Priscilla ~ Sunlight streams through the large picture windows of the second floor art room at the Rose Baker Senior Center.

Pauline, Juni, and Maggie

Juni and Maggie

Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly

Coming Soon: Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly tells the story of the ubiquitous and stunning Black Swallowtail butterfly.

Black Swallowtail Butterfly

My new documentary film captures the beauty and mystery of the Black Swallowtail, through all its life stages, and in it’s surrounding habitats. I think you will be amazed and captivated by this garden-variety and seemingly ordinary, extraordinary butterfly!

From Egg to Caterpillar to Chrysalis to Adult

Black Swallowtail Eggs

 Black Swallowtail Caterpillar Everting Osmeterium

Black Swallowtail Emerging from Chrysalis

Newly Emerged Black Swallowtail Butterfly

Male Black Swallowtail Butterfly Nectaring at Fennel

Female Black Swallowtail Butterfly

One of several preferred Black Swallowtail habitats—Gloucester’s sandy wildflower meadow at Good Harbor Beach. The milkweed provides nectar for swallowtails on the wing and Queen Anne’s Lace is a food plant of the Black Swallowtail caterpillars.

Shocking Pink

Blooming in my office today and, with it’s “shocking pink” color and fabulous fragrance, making work all that much more pleasant.

Epiphyllum

Shocking pink was fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli’s (1890- 19730) signature color and she described it as “life-giving, like all the light and the birds and the fish in the world put together, a color of China and Peru but not of the West.”

Marcel Vertes 1940 watercolor ad for Schiaparelli’s Shocking perfume, which shows a bottle of Shocking  reclining in a pink hammock with a floating couple above and Cupid below.

Marcel Vertes and Elsa Schiaparelli jointly won the British Academy Film award in 1952 for Best Costume Design for the original Moulin Rouge film, about the life and times of artist Toulouse-Lautrec.

Rare Albino Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Many thanks to Caroline Haines, the director of Pathways for Children, for forwarding the photos of the rare albino Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris). The photos were shot by Kevin Shank and four of his sons over a several day period in late August. Caroline has a love for butterflies and birds, and nature in general, and brings her passion to the programing provided for the children at Pathways.

The above photos were taken in Virginia at the beginning of the hummingbird’s annual southward migration; it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that we may see an albino hummingbird visiting our Cape Ann feeders and flowers as we are in the same migratory corridor.

A true albino hummingbird, as is the above bird, has snowy white plumage and it’s eyes, legs, and bill are pink. True albinos are extraordinarily rare. Leucistic hummingbirds are still rare but are seen more often than true albions. Like the common Ruby-throated Hummingbird, leucistic forms have black, feet, bills, and eyes, but their feathers are some version of white, gray, buffy, and tan; not the typical shades of green.

Leucistic form and common Ruby-throated Hummingbirds

Image courtesy Hilton Pond Center.