“I fell in love with her courage, her sincerity, and her flaming self respect. And it’s these things I’d believe in, even if the whole world indulged in wild suspicions that she wasn’t all she should be. I love her and it is the beginning of everything.”
– F. Scott Fitzgerald
“How could we forget those ancient myths that stand at the beginning of all races, the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses? Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage.”
– Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
I know a place…
High up on a hill, with walls thick and tall…magical.
A fortress guarded on every side by ancient olive trees and wild cats who demand attention when not hunting the field mice.
A quiet place, where you can hear the sound of the sheep’s bells from miles away and the faint whispers of warriors past that rise from the cobblestone pathways.
Their whispers feel like a soft breeze and carry with them the scent of oranges, lemons, magnolias and lavender which grow from every garden in the village.
Bright white are the walls and red are the rooftops – but lush green are the hills which like waves in the ocean, are as vast as the eye can see. A green ocean dotted with ancient whitecaps/houses.
And if you sit quietly enough on the steps of the fortress when the sun begins to leave you for the day, you’ll witness a fire in the sky. Close your eyes for a moment or two, then open as quickly as you can, and you’ll see off in the distance, the (your) dragon coming home to sit beside you.
“I know what I have given you…
I do not know what you have received.”
– Antonio Porchia
I am spending some days exploring/driving inland Spain – away from the busy coastal cities. I like being inland. As when on my road trip through the Cote d’Azur region of France last year, I find myself surrounded by farms, medieval towns and lovely people.
There are many different types of architectural design I like, but none so dear to my heart as Midcentury Modern – Desert Modernism to be specific. Brought on by a mixture of both the International style and Bauhaus Movement, each building has function, style and a grace that makes my heart go pitter patter.
There is nowhere else in the world you can find more mid-century marvels than in Palm Springs, California. Recently the Art Museum of Palm Springs (a fantastic place to visit if given the opportunity) opened the Architecture and Design Center in the historic Santa Fe Federal Savings & Loan building designed by renowned modern architect E. Stewart Williams.
Palm Springs itself (one of my favorite places to visit in the United States) has managed to keep its Hollywood flare. It wasn’t a place stars like Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and the likes went to bask on the beaches. It’s where they went to have dinner parties, lounge by private swimming pools like desert lizards. It’s where the cocktail hour was serious business…and still is.
I’ll not forget the residents of today though. They are as contemporary and modern as the architecture itself and I adore their flamboyancy. I’ll write about them in another post though. This post is strictly architecture and design.
I was salivating at the idea of the new museum so naturally this week I headed to Palm Springs.
Being a small city, I was able to walk to most places although I did rent a bike (a lovely city cruiser with a basket and bell) for three house early in the morning. This helped me cover more ground on my tour of homes. It was a sunny 75 degree and not a cloud in the sky. I had headed into the neighborhoods and downtown. I had wanted to view my favorite house – The Kaufmann Desert House. The Frey House II (designed by Albert Frey, another favorite of mine) sits on a hillside and is private so I was unable to see one of my other great loves..but oh well.
After my long ride, I showered, changed and set out on foot to the museum. First I stopped by the Art Museum to do some Christmas Shopping and see the exhibits. I then headed to The Architecture and Design Museum – saving the best for last.
It was quiet inside as it was mid-day and everyone else was having lunch or just waking from the last nights partying (they party a lot there.)
I was in heaven. The current exhibit, An Eloquent Modernist: E. Stewart Williams, Architect, showcases Williams’, as well as his sons, dedication to both good city planning and even better modern architecture.
I could go on and on here and I can’t recommend the exhibit enough. So for anyone interested, you can find more information at http://www.psmuseum.org/architecture-design-center/
With regards to my favorite Kaufmann Desert House, I was hoping the house, designed by Richard Neutra (http://www.ncmodernist.org/neutra.htm) would be open to the public in February during Modernism Week (February 12-22nd) but I believe it wont be (insert sad face here.) I will, however, be viewing the Frey House II (insert happy face here.)
Below are a few photos I took while on my cruiser. I’ve chosen not to convert them to black and white as I believe the desert colors are quite lovely. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.
-Frank Lloyd Wright
“She had always lived her best life in dreams. She knew no greater pleasure than that moment of passage into the other place, when her limbs grew warm and heavy and the sparkling darkness behind her lids became ordered and doors opened; when conscious thought grew owl’s wings and talons and became other than conscious.”
– John Crowley
There was a time I had a large collection of photographs I’d taken of doors from wherever my travels had taken me. It took me years to accumulate. Last year, when my house was robbed and my computer stolen (along with all of my photographs) I thought my crazy door collection was gone for good. Months later, while walking the streets of Barcelona, I considered that the loss of my collection and computer was a good thing. Not only did it teach me that material things are just that….material and gone in the blink of an eye, but it also encouraged me to continue with a new collections of doors around the globe.
Although I’ll never get a chance to meet my home intruder, if I did, I might thank him for the lesson given of impermanence….and a new collection to start.
“But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief,
That thou, her maid, art far more fair than she.
Be not her maid, since she is envious;
Her vestal livery is but sick and green
And none but fools do wear it; cast it off.
It is my lady, O, it is my love!
Oh, that she knew she were!”
– William Shakespeare
“The impetuous creature–a pirate–started forward, sprang away; she had to hold the rail to steady herself, for a pirate it was, reckless, unscrupulous, bearing down ruthlessly, circumventing dangerously, boldly snatching a passenger, or ignoring a passenger, squeezing eel-like and arrogant in between, and then rushing insolently all sails spread up Whitehall.”
– Virginia Woolf
A perfect description of what life is like on the tram. Although I enjoyed riding these little gems, one must be very quick to do so.
“Friendship is a precious thing, Sayuri. One mustn’t throw it away.”
– Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha
They sat outside on a small make-shift bench laughing and enjoying the warm evening. When asked if I could take their photo they straightened up a bit, making sure to pull their dresses down properly and graced me with beautiful smiles while they giggled to each other. I was reminded how important the women in my life are. So this photo is for all the women I am fortunate enough to call my girlfriends and family….
“Let each man take the path according to his capacity, understanding and temperament. His true guru will meet him along that path.”
– Sivananda Saraswati
This church, sitting on a hill in the middle of a small neighborhood, was possibly the prettiest place I found on Ibiza. I can’t remember where it was as it was found during an exploratory drive. The beaches, coves and sunsets were lovely too, but I’ve found them other places as well. However, this church on the hill, with all its white walls and cobbled pathways was special.
“Comfort has its place, but it seems rude to visit another country dressed as if you’ve come to mow its lawns.”
– David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day
This is my first real visit to France. I’ve stopped in a time or two on the way to somewhere else, but never stayed long enough to truly meet the people. The only French man I know happens to be one of the nicest people I’ve had the pleasure to meet though as an American, I was told virtually my entire life that the French would be rude should I visit. I should’ve known better and tsk tsk on me. How is it that I can go my entire life defending us “obnoxious” Americans while abroad, yet, because of what others say, have a preconceived notion of what the French are like. I feel rather stupid, to say the least.
In fact, having been to Italy more than a dozen times, I never quite fit it. Don’t get me wrong though, I love the country. I love the history and I love the people. Although my Italian friends tell me that I don’t look or act Italian. I stick out like a sore thumb; I don’t wear that much make-up, my personal style (which I do love fashion) has always been more conservative or “vintage” and lastly, I talk and smile with people – I’m friendly. Here in France though, nobody stares at me like they do in Italy, I dress the same as most women here and when I smile – they smile back, they hold doors, they say thank you and even the women wish you a good day – and no, you don’t need to be purchasing something to gains smiles and chatting.
This morning at breakfast I sat and chatted with a nice German couple on their way to see the areas around Grasse. The owner of the Bed & Breakfast, Monique, showed them on the map how to get to their destinations. I found myself envious of their plan – I had none. After they left, Monique asked me what I’d be doing today. I told her I had no clue, maybe Cannes, and asked what she recommended. “Cannes is full of tourists. You don’t look like you would like that. I see you don’t like those things. Let me show you where I go.” she responded. Music to my ears.
By the end of the day I had driven through the beautiful countryside, chatted with numerous locals and in some villages, felt I was the only one in the streets – completely safe and decided that my trip to France would be the first of many yet to come. My relationship with Italy is by no means over, it’s just a good friend now, instead of a lover, that’s all.
“I don’t want just words. If that’s all you have for me, you’d better go”
– F. Scott Fitzgerald
I leave Verona Saturday with plans to drive into France. I’ll stop in the coastal town of Noli, here in Italy, for a few days first and plan a route from there. It very well could be that I stay on the beach writing and hiding, or perhaps return home a few days early. I’ve decided against a plan and instead, do what I do best – or used to do best – just feel my way about.
I took the photograph below while on a late afternoon walk along the river. I like the graffiti here in Italy. It’s either words of love, words of politics or desperate pleas. So many words. It’s not so prevalent as the miles and miles of graffiti in Rome, but it still carries mostly all the same messages.
Maybe the Veronese will be offended that instead of showcasing the beautiful pastel colored city in photos, I chose to showcase the graffiti. But please, good people of Verona, Mi Perdoni? I promise to share the bright, beautiful ones as well. Eventually.