Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Interior Design

"One of my strongest convictions,
and one of the first canons of good taste, 
is that our houses, like the fish’s shell and
the bird’s nest, ought to represent our 
individual taste and habits."

Mary Eliza Haweis

Interior design has been defined as the process of shaping the experience of interior space, through the manipulation of spatial volume as well as surface treatment. I would suggest that, in good taste, or not, most homes do come to reflect the people who live in them. And, over the past few years I have slowly been making some changes in my environment. Though, I will probably hang on to the rug that my late wife thought really tied the living room together.

As curator of my own domain, last week I finally hung a poster to compliment one I had for just over a year. I must say that they do reflect my eclectic taste and strange sense of humor.

Picasso and Duchamp Go at It

Art Rivalry: photo by Cliff Hutson
Art Rivalry: photo by Cliff Hutson
This first poster was basically an impulse purchase. Truth be told, I am really not into the work of either artist all that much. (Although, I, like most other college kids of my era, had a "Guernica" print on a wall in my apartment in my school days.) But, I was totally captivated by the portrayal of this rivalry as a promotion for a boxing match.

Adding Punch

Add Punch: photo by Cliff Hutson
Add Punch: photo by Cliff Hutson
"Add Punch to Your Printing", by Dafi Kühne, was a much more deliberate acquisition. I felt it go well on a wall adjacent to "He Was Wrong" as the red letters would be complimentary. Also, in my mind, the "Punch" underscores the boxing theme. The clincher for the purchase though is that the proceeds go to support the work of the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum.

A Place of My Own

Framing and hanging two posters is certainly a very small step in to the world of interior design. But, I find it kind of exciting. Within the next year I will probably be downsizing to a home about one-third the size of my present house. There is not much here that would comfortably fit in that space. So, it will be an ideal opportunity to get a fresh start. Hopefully, in the intervening time, I can hone my aesthetic and realize a place to call my own.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


Pacific NInebark

Pacific NInebark or Western Ninebark (Physocarpus capitatus) is a shrub, in the family Rosaceae, that is native to California and confined to western North America - from southern Alaska east to Montana and Utah, and south to southern California; in the Redwood Forest, Chaparral, Yellow Pine Forest, Red Fir Forest, wetland-riparian communities.

Pacific Ninebark: photo by Cliff Hutson
Pacific Ninebark: photo by Cliff Hutson

The plant gets its common name from its bark which may peel showing several layers. The name Physocarpus is from the Greek phusa or physa, "bladder" and karpos, "fruit," thus "bladdery fruit”.  The appellation capitatus refers to the way the flowers form in a head-like cluster.

It is a deciduous bush with round clusters of white flowers, with five petals and numerous red-tipped stamens, in 3"-5" clusters, flowering May through July. The blossoms have been noted as being attractive  to a large number of native bees. Small animals and birds find shelter in its branches. The leaves are alternate, generally serrate, and remind me of small grape or currant leaves, though some say they are maple-like. They are lobed about 1.2–5.5 inches long and broad, which turn intense red to orange in the fall. It can grow to eight feet tall. The fruit is an inflated glossy red pod which turns dry and brown and then splits open to release seeds.

Many nurseries recommend the plant not only for its delightful display of flowers, and its showiness in Fall, but also for the sculptural attractiveness the rest of the year. While it grows most robustly in wet environments, it is drought-tolerant to a degree and could do well in any garden where the climate is not oppressively hot.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Boojum Tree

"'But oh, beamish nephew, beware of the day,
If your Snark be a Boojum! For then
You will softly and suddenly vanish away,
 And never be met with again!”

“The Hunting of the Snark” by Lewis Carrol

Boojum Tree: photo by Cliff Hutson
Boojum Tree: photo by Cliff Hutson

Unlike Jack London, I have never had a Snark to call my own. Many years ago I considered buying one, but my wife pointed out that there was not enough room in my life for both a spouse and a sailboat, even a small one.  However, I have gazed upon the visage of a Boojum, many times and not vanished.

Fouquieria columnaris, or Boojum, is a tree in the same family as Ocotillo; Fouquieriaceae (Candlewood). The boojum is basically endemic to the Baja California Peninsula, but can be considered as being in the California Floristic Province. Many say it resembles a slender upside-down carrot, up to 50 feet tall and about 1-1/2 feet wide at the base. It is covered with spiny twigs that bear whitish to yellowish flowers in hanging clusters during the Summer; and some sometimes in the Fall.  As with ocotillo, its small leaves drop off in drier conditions, leaving the greenish stems to carry out photosynthesis.

Fouquieria is named for Pierre Éloi Fouquier (1776-1850), a French physician,  professor of medicine and naturalist. The epithet, columnaris means  “in the shape of a column”, referring to the stout upward tapering trunk. The common name of Boojum Tree was given by Godfrey Sykes of the Desert Botanical Laboratory in Tucson, Arizona. He apparently named it after the mythical being citied the nonsense poem written by Lewis Carroll, the pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson.

Fouquieria columnaris: photo by Cliff Hutson
Fouquieria columnaris: photo by Cliff Hutson

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

January 2016 Reading List

The books I finished reading in January 2016

January 2016 Books: photo by Cliff Hutson
January 2016 Books: photo by Cliff Hutson