September 30, 2009

Autumn Color

Burning Bush, or Winged Euonymus


Miss Kim, Korean Lilac

In another week or so, the gorgeous color that is already showing on the hills, in the garden, on the wooded paths, will reach a crescendo. Today is a gray cold day so I thought I'd post these pictures, taken over the past couple of weeks, to cheer myself up. Surprisingly enough though, fall color always looks more intense on cloudy days: the reds have a deeper glow when not competing with sun.

September 29, 2009

Loop de Loop, Under Way

At least rug hooking is rarely frustrating, as opposed to painting. Though with this work, I had to dye the yellow background color twice. I wanted a light color, so that it would appear to lie behind the blue "frames" but still have clarity and light. The first piece of yellow wool came out much too dark, in that the yellow was too saturated, so would compete for attention with the blue and red. It turns out that the lemon yellow dye is very strong; a tiny bit goes a long way. So I dyed a new piece of wool that came out closer to what I had envisioned.

When I start a new project, I have to decide in which direction to hook the wool. Here, I am hooking the background in a random pattern, which enhances a feeling of overall-ness. The red of the loop is hooked along its length, and each blue rectangle is hooked in a different way: the largest one has the hooking go in concentric rectangles moving toward a center; the other two have 3 sided rectangles, pointing toward the bottom and top. Two others will have horizontal, and vertical, hooking. (If you click on the image, the larger image will make this easier to see.) I think these different directions of the hooked wool add some liveliness to the surface, moving the eye around and about.

Working on Red Cone, ugh

I had a difficult day in the studio today. I've been chugging along with this painting, and thought that today I'd be able to finish the broad lower part of the cone. My idea was to use filberts (flat-shaped brushes rounded on top) and using a dry brush, build up layers of color, shifting from one tone to another with an actively moving mark. But it looked lousy, without grace. I tried again and again, without being satisfied. To make matters worse, I was lifting small areas of paint, leaving dark spots (egg tempera painters will recognize this problem, which comes from a too wet application of paint). oy. At times like this I wish I was still using cross hatching, which is much more reliable; its rigor makes the work easier.

Then I took out some smaller round brushes, and slowing down, worked on a small area. By the end of the day, I realized that even though this part of the painting is a large area, I still had to approach it in a refined steady way. The many layers of paint I've already applied will add to the richness of the final layer, so nothing is wasted; now I see my way clear to how I will finish this painting.

September 28, 2009

Creatures Great and Small

In the fall, the leaves of the two white birch trees by the pond turn yellow and begin to drop, some of which float gently––or if windy, get blown across––the surface of the water. There are several koi in the pond, who seem to thrive there; during winter they hibernate under the ice layer. It's wonderful to watch their graceful movement through water.

As for the large creature: today, Yom Kippur, I took a walk along the trail through the woods to the south of my house. As I came around a bend, I saw right in front of me, where I usually cut into the woods, a young female moose taking her ease, resting on the ground in the middle of the path. We looked calmly at each other for a couple of minutes; she was probably trying to figure out if it was worth it to get up from her comfortable spot: moose are definitely not as skittish as deer. As I turned off the trail, she lumbered up and ambled off away from me. One of the joys of living in rural Vermont is having encounters like this, with species other than homo sapiens, and seeing a bit of wildness.

September 27, 2009

Giorgio Morandi

Still Life, 1940, 16 x19 inches

Still Life, 1949, 14 x 18 inches

Still Life, 1954, 10 x 28 inches

Still Life, 1961, 10 x 12 inches

Still Life, 1964, 10 x 12 inches

2 Still Life watercolors, 1962, 6 x 8 inches

At the risk of being ridiculously obvious regarding the issue of our differing response to painting and to objects (touched on in the post "American Art Pottery"), I thought I'd do a post on the work of Giorgio Morandi, a painter of objects, mundane things––bottles, jars, jugs, cans––that appeared in his work over and over again through the years. I love Morandi's work every bit as much, or more being that I'm a painter, as the pottery I've written about. The paintings above were photographed from the catalogue of the great Morandi exhibition of last fall at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Morandi: 1890-1964 (which I see is out of print; I'm so glad I bought a copy).

Although Morandi painted these objects in his studio, looking at them, rearranging them, studying them, you can see that his aim was not just to reproduce what he saw. Like Giacometti in his paintings, I feel that he was trying to comprehend what it meant to look; what space was and how it related to the objects occupying it; how did the artist's sensibility affect his vision, his touch. There is a philosophical search at the heart of Morandi's paintings, that I believe is at a different level of complexity from that of a maker of objects. Paintings and pots both convey feeling, and sensual pleasure. When I look at a piece of pottery in a museum, my senses of sight and touch are engaged, while it is mainly the eye into mind engaged in looking at painting.

Looking at the selection of paintings above, done over his lifetime, we can see how varied Morandi's simple paintings are: they explore different qualities of light, of composition, of format. The bottles and jugs become characters on a stage, huddling together or barely touching. The wavering outlines of forms create an uncertainty: can we really know things? Is space as actual as object? seems to be a question that the later work asks, especially the watercolors. What makes Morandi's work so important is that his paintings also have great emotion, a touching humility, a longing for beauty.

Fall Flowers

We're heading towards the height of fall foliage, and plants in the perennial borders are also turning brown and yellow and red. There are still a few phlox blooms straggling on, but there are also two late blooming perennials that have just begun to flower: the autumn Monkshood aconitum fischeri, and the fall Aster Purple Dome. The monkshood blooms look like medieval knights with helmet and visor; the remaining bees love to crawl up inside them. The aster is a neat mound that will be covered in purple blossoms. It's nice to have some flowers this late in the season.

September 26, 2009

Turnip Pickles

I plant turnips twice during the growing season: once in early spring and then again at the end of July in the area where the spinach was growing . I once read somewhere one of those folk sayings: "plant turnips the 25th of July, wet or dry" and I pretty much stick to that. I like raw turnips shredded into salads; braised with sugar, which plays nicely off the zip of the vegetable; and most of all, I look forward to making turnip pickles. These are a middle eastern pickle that are among the ones my mother makes, and are my favorite.

You peel the turnips, halve the larger ones, then slice them about 1/4 inch thick. Place them tightly in a jar, with 1/2 of a small beet, peeled, towards the bottom, and the other half towards the top. The beet will give the pickles their characteristic pink color. The photo above was taken just after the turnips were put in the jar; the color will deepen as the beet suffuses the pickling liquid with color. Make a mixture of vinegar and water in a proportion of 1 to 10; for a quart jar I use 1/4 cup white vinegar with 2 1/2 cups water. Add about 1 Tbs salt and stir till dissolved. Pour over the turnips and cover. Let the jar sit at room temperature for 3 days, then refrigerate. They'll keep for a while. I love the tang of these pickles; I guess they might come close to the taste of a tart radish. And they're so pretty.

September 25, 2009

Potatoes & Arugula Potato Soup

I dug the potato crop today, which is always an adventure: forking over and fingering through the soil, finding tubers hidden away all summer is like a treasure hunt. The yields this year were mediocre, a result of odd weather and perhaps also the spot where they were growing, which is the "boney-est" part of the garden. (Boney is a very apt Vermont term for rocky soil.) In the photo above, those large rocks came out of the potato rows; rocks are a prolific crop here in northern Vermont, where frosts heave them out of the ground. I've sometimes had to use a pry bar to lever a huge rock out of the ground, then rolled it with difficulty out of the garden.

The three varieties shown are, from the left Dark Red Norland, a white fleshed early potato great for summer potato salads; Carola, a yellow fleshed excellent keeper whose rich flavor makes it my favorite potato; French Fingerling, with yellow flesh and pretty red specks, is waxy and creamy and makes the best boiled potatoes ever. I adore potatoes, cooked every which way: baked and boiled and mashed and roasted, in soups and stews and salads. A home grown potato is not the same vegetable as those industrial farmed tubers you buy at the supermarket; the taste is of another order.

I thought I'd share a favorite soup recipe that I like to eat this time of year: Arugula Potato Soup, from Marcella Hazan's More Classic Italian Cooking. She says this is called a "poor man's soup" because of the potatoes and stale bread, and arugula which grows wild in the fields.

4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced (around 2 cups)
3 cups water
2 cups arugula leaves
2 cups cut up stale french or italian bread (I use my home-made sourdough)
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup green, fruity olive oil

Put potatoes and water into pot, bring to a boil and cook for 10-15 minutes till half done.
Add arugula and salt, cover pot and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, then turn off heat.
Put in bread and let sit for 10 minutes, covered.
Add liberal amount of pepper, and olive oil.

The amounts above are just a guide. I usually use lots more arugula in proportion, making a double recipe without quite doubling the water because I like the soup to be very thick. You can use more or less of each ingredient to your taste. The olive oil makes the soup extra delicious.

September 24, 2009

George Ohr, Potter

Long necked vase, 1897-1900, 13 inches high

Crinkle top pot, 1897-1900, 7 5/8 inches high

Red vase, 1895-96, 9 1/16 inches high

Organic Vessel, 1897-1900, 4 inches high, 6 inches wide

I first saw George Ohr's work a number of years ago at the American Craft Museum, now the relocated and renamed Museum of Arts and Design. It was a stunning revelation; here was a uniquely individual artist, working away in Biloxi Mississippi, producing remarkably modern pieces at the end of the 19th century. His genius reminds me a bit of that of Frank Lloyd Wright whose early work made great aesthetic leaps into new forms.

Ohr created beautiful shapes, as in the long necked vase above, but he also took classic forms and pinched, crimped, rumpled them, making expressive volumes. His handles added fluid lines drawn in space. The glazes are gorgeous; I especially love the color of that long necked vase, the way the warm hues wander into the cooler ones and all seem to enhance the marvelous form: wide opening into slender neck, which was given a slight twist, then swooping outwards, and then back to the foot. The crinkle top pot has a similar rightness of color and form: the shiny green of the top sets off the more mat color of the body. The organic vessel is like an abstract sculpture; it's as though his work had to pave the way for John Chamberlain to bend and crumple metal.

Sometimes I've thought I'd like to try making pottery, as I've wanted to make low relief sculpture after falling in love with Ghiberti when I saw his panels at the Baptistry in Florence. As I've explained, seeing Italian panel paintings did get me to learn egg tempera. But I think I'll just admire, and visit the collection at the Metropolitan Museum often. I imagine we all wonder how we are influenced or jiggled a bit one way or the other by work that is not truly related to what we do; there must be some non-visible effect, swaying us as the moon moves the tides.

The photos above come from the book George Ohr, Art Potter: The Apostle of Individuality by Robert Ellison.

September 23, 2009

Winter Squash and Pumpkin

A real sign of fall are the bright displays of pumpkins and winter squash at roadside stands. Winter squash are picked before a heavy frost as the spot where they lay on the ground turns orange. Pumpkins, of course, turn from green to orange when ripe. Each year I grow a hill of pumpkins, the variety New England Pie, which I use for pie and soup and a middle eastern dip. The big green squashes are Sweet Mama, a hybrid that is very similar to Buttercup, which was my favorite till trying Mama. The small cream colored fruits are Sweet Dumpling, somewhat similar to the very popular elongated Delicata. I found Delicata's flavor too cloyingly sweet, while Sweet Dumpling is just right: each squash a wonderfully sweet and creamy treat.

The squashes are lined up on the porch so as to be in the sun for a few days to cure, though they also provide aesthetic pleasure: the skins must become hard so that they will keep well. Later on, my cool guest room becomes a winter storage area for squashes and onions and garlic.

Working on Red Cone, the Shadow

I've been back to work in the studio after my nyc trip, moving down the painting to the center part of the cone. I added several layers of color to all unfinished parts of the painting, in a fluid manner, just to get a less transparent surface. These gestural, underpainted layers add to the richness of the final layers. I concentrated on finishing the curved purplish shadow running across the form. The challenge here is to get a sense of light within shadow, to have a movement of color and value that articulates the form. We often tend to think of shadows as devoid of light, but if we look at them in isolation, blocking out the light part of the form (I often had my students do this by making a small window with their hands), we can see that they are full of color.

September 22, 2009

Red Cabbage

The swirling pattern inside a big, five pound, red cabbage is a colorful suggestion of fall. I picked a cabbage today, thinking about making a salad with it. When fall comes, I switch from vegetable salads such as green bean or tomato or lettuce, to heartier cabbage salads. In early spring I crave young greens, but by fall the more mature cabbage suits my taste. Sweet and sour cabbage, and a smothered cabbage with chicken cooked with red wine are two other favorite ways of using this long storage vegetable (a big cabbage will keep till spring in the root cellar).

So I made a cabbage salad for lunch, using some shredded red cabbage, sliced carrots, sliced red onion, crushed garlic––all from the garden––dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and a splash of soy sauce. Sometimes I add a bit of mayonnaise, but not today. I let the salad sit for a few minutes until the cabbage wilts a bit. This is a meal that is wonderful to look at and healthy, and delicious, to eat.

Picking Peppers

Even though the pepper harvest this year was pretty skimpy, I did manage to grow some very red bell peppers by covering the plants with row covers for the entire summer. The covers protected the plants from frost, but yesterday I felt that it was time to pick the fruits. I sliced most of them for tray freezing, then put them in a gallon freezer bag; I also had enough to freeze 4 peppers whole so that I can make stuffed peppers this winter. I don't know why, but peppers are the only vegetable that doesn't require blanching before freezing, so they're super easy to process.

After picking the peppers, I began the process of cleaning up the vegetable garden: I pulled all the pepper and eggplant plants and removed the plastic mulch; I did the same with the melon plants which had all been killed by the frost, as had the cucumber and zucchini. I now have to pick the remainder of the tomatoes and pull up the stakes and cages. I do all the work a bit at a time, stretching out summer's end.

September 21, 2009

American Art Pottery

Sugar Pot, Central Piedmont, North Carolina, 1820-1840, 12 3/4 x 10 inches

5 Red Vases by George Ohr, 1895-1900

Hugh Robertson for Chelsea Keramic Art Works, 1884-87, 8 inches high; and for Dedham Pottery, 1895-1908, 7 inches high

Grueby Pottery Company,1900-1908

Fulper Pottery, 1909-1920, 9 inches high, crystalline glaze.

Wandering through the new installation of American ceramics, glass and metalwork above the courtyard in the American wing at the Met, I felt such strong feelings of excitement and sheer aesthetic pleasure; there's an intensity of feeling in regards to objects, to things, that is very different from the visual pleasure in looking at paintings. Even though paintings provide a deep emotional response, there is more of the intellect as a component as we tease out the image, the narrative, the illusion, the surface elements. A ceramic pot is a concrete presence in real space, something we can imagine cradling, stroking, handling if it were not in a museum.

On my way into the American wing, I passed through the medieval galleries, which I always enjoy because of a similar heightened feeling about medieval objects and sculpture. This time I was struck by a small bronze of a hunting dog, whose slim form echoed a circle as its tail arced forward and head back. I took great delight in this piece. And I'm tempted to talk about a garden of "earthy" delights in describing American art pottery. The first piece above has more of folk art quality to it; I reproduced it because I love its shape and color and its anti-classical, bulbous nature which seems to me to be a precursor of the great George Ohr. (sorry for the poor Ohr reproduction; I'll have to do another post on him.)

Hugh Robertson was an amazing discovery for me. He was obsessively interested in ancient Chinese pots and made some beautiful small vases based on Chinese shapes, but with matte glazes. He also worked for years to perfect the oxblood glaze you see above, again inspired by the Chinese. When I see the thick, runny glaze on his other pot, I can't help but think of the abstract paintings of a half century later. Thanks to Robert Ellison, a major collector of American Art Pottery, we can now see this work any time we go to the Met. Ok, I've gone on too long....I hope you'll get to see these collections if you're in New York City.

Art from Ancient Afghanistan

Ceremonial Plaque depicting Cybele, early 3rd century BCE, 10 inches

When I was in the city, I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the show on the art of ancient Afghanistan, and the new installation of the American wing (post soon to follow). Maps of trade routes through Afghanistan showed how interconnected the ancient world was. Afghan Lapis lazuli, the semi-precious stone used for carving and for the most beautiful and expensive blue pigment, was traded throughout the middle east and then Europe for centuries. The works in the show seemed to me to be either Hellenic in style, or Indian; they didn't have a clear Afghan character. The piece above is described as an amalgam of eastern and Greek influences: the eastern in the crescent, the shape of the pyramid and chariot, the west in the bust of Helios and the naturalism of draperies and lions. It is a very lovely, delicately sculpted work.

Plaque with Women under Gateways, 1st 2nd century A.D., 5 x 10 inches

The small ivory plaque above, in the voluptuousness of the figures and stylization of form, both in the figures and the surroundings, is clearly influenced by Indian sculpture.

Flask in the shape of a Fish, 1st 2nd century A.D., 3 x 4 x 8 inches

This bottle, a perfume container, is believed to come from Roman Alexandria. It's a beautifully made, inventive and fanciful piece, one of my favorite things in the exhibition. What was most important to me about this show, however, was where a large group of objects, including the two pieces just above, were unearthed: at Bagram, which had been a major trading center during the 1st and 2nd centuries. To see the name Bagram associated with objects of beauty and not with a shameful military prison is to think of Afghanistan in a new, enlarged way. It is to see it as a place that was the site of centuries of trade, and the home of generations of men and women who treasured artful objects. Afghanistan is now for me not only a place of war, but a peaceful crossroads of trade and aesthetic pleasure.

September 20, 2009

First Frost

I returned home mid-afternoon to a beautifully clear September day. It's always exhilarating to get back to the Vermont landscape after a visit to NYC, even though I love seeing my family and friends and art. I immediately went out to the garden to see if there had been rain or frost during my days away. No rain, but a frost had occurred: not hard enough to have killed the green bean plants, but enough for the basil, in the photo above, and the zucchini which is on the cold side of the garden. The ice crystals formed by frost bursts the cell walls of the plants and kills the leaves. It's a sad time when I see this damage because it is a clear declaration of the end of summer and another step towards winter. But at the same time, I celebrate the harvest and the natural movement of the seasons. I picked 3 zucchini from the now dead plant and now I'm ready to move on to cold weather crops such as kale, turnips, brussels sprouts and winter squash.

So as not to leave you with only a photo about the end of the growing season, here's one of the honeysuckle vine by the front door, which has not stopped blooming all summer, and is still cheerfully flowering.

September 15, 2009

Dear Reader

Japanese Anemone

When I started this blog on August 1st, it was simply with the idea of having a presence on the web for my paintings; a website would have been too expensive and complicated so the blog format seemed to be ideal. Because my painting is not the only focus of my life, I decided to include both the garden, which provides both emotional and physical sustenance, and rug hooking, which has influenced my painting quite a lot. This range of interests is more true to the way I live, as it is for most people. Doing the blog has also called on my photography skills, which I hadn't used in a while.

I quickly became intensely engaged with writing the blog and sharing my work and garden, obsessed you might say. This is quite normal for me: I tend to jump into something new with wild enthusiasm. I've posted nearly every day, often 2 or 3 times each day. Because I want to share what I'm doing, my studio work has seemed richer and more compelling; the same is true for my ruglets. I also love the writing part of the blogging, the crafting of words. Thinking about posts has brought various ideas to mind and I've enjoyed exploring them. Including recipes was a natural sequel to talking about growing vegetables.

The reason I'm writing this now is that I'm heading into NYC tomorrow for a few days to spend the Jewish New Year with family, and see some friends and a bit of art. So I won't be posting again till Sunday or Monday. Here in northern Vermont, the color has begun to show in the trees, which means that the garden part of "Studio and Garden" will be winding down. I don't think that I'll be able to keep posting at the same pace in future, but who knows? new topics may present themselves. Winter stews perhaps?

Thank you all for looking at my images and reading my posts; it's been a great joy to me to share it all with you.

Working on Red Cone: the Top of the Painting

I've been chugging along on this painting; I reworked the lower tire and have finished the funny "hat" at the top. I've also put several layers of paint on the top part of the cone form, and the curve shape at top right, and will see soon if they satisfy me. As I engage with this part of the painting, I realize how pleasurable the curves are––of tires and red pipe––as they swoop in different directions. It's also fun, and challenging, to use so much of the color red. It is vivid and dynamic, but can look very washed out in the lighter tones if they're not just right, so I find myself repainting areas again and again. Here egg tempera's translucency helps a lot as I layer a thin coat of darker red over a lighter one; the color then zings. Please click on the image to see the enlargement in a new window; the color is way way better there.

Posting on this blog, and getting responses, has felt like having studio visits, which is great for my spirits. I love living a rural life, but I also deeply enjoy the interaction, even if just in cyberspace. I also thought I'd mention here that as I've lived with Yellow Curve I've come to like it more and more, my concerns have been allayed.

September 14, 2009

A Zinnia

When I walked through the garden at midday, about to pick some corn for lunch, I noticed this zinnia that had just fully opened. Its beautiful shapes struck me: the round of small yellow "flowers" around a rich mahogony center of marvelous form, with a deep empty eye. I ran to get my camera and shot a close-up in order to better see the details. I hope you'll click on the image to see the enlargement if you're interested in floral reproduction, because it turned out that those yellow parts are covered with pollen so must be the stamens, the male part, of the flower. What looks wonderfully decorative, like a spring garland, is actually a means of survival.

Pizza with Greens

Swiss Chard

I love making and eating pizza. I generally bake a pizza alla marinara which has tomatoes and garlic, but no cheese; it's a good base for adding other toppings. A few weeks ago, looking at all the swiss chard in the garden, I thought of making a white pizza with cooked greens so searched online for recipes. After making this recipe a couple of times, I've got the ingredients, simple as they are, adjusted to my preference and the pie is delicious.

So I'd like to share the recipe: Swiss chard is a nice choice for greens because it's got a strong but not insistent flavor. But I imagine spinach would work, as would some bitter greens if you enjoy that flavor; I'll likely try this with kale when it's ready.

  1. Use your favorite recipe for a 10-11 inch pizza. I make my dough with 1 cup white and 1/2 cup coarse grind whole wheat flour, which adds a nice texture.
  2. Clean and coarsely chop around 3/4 lb of greens (I removed the ribs of the chard).
  3. In a wide pan, warm 1 1/2 Tbs chopped garlic (yes, a lot is good here) in 1/4 to 1/3 cup good olive oil. I use a lot of oil for cooking the greens, but then I don't brush the crust with oil, which would be overkill.
  4. Add greens, a bit of salt, and cook till tender and much reduced and the water in the greens is cooked off; there will still be moisture from the olive oil.
  5. Roll out the dough and distribute greens evenly on top. Then spread with 3 to 4 ounces of grated mozzarella. I don't like a lot of cheese, so if you do, just use more. I think this pizza would also be good with goat cheese.
  6. Bake in a 500 degree preheated oven on a preheated pizza stone for 10 to 12 minutes.
  7. You can add a bit of grated parmesan and/or crushed chili pepper (I add chili to every that zing!).

Update: I've tried this recipe with kale and find it too sweet; I prefer swiss chard.

September 13, 2009

The Paintings that Moved Me to Work with Egg Tempera

Sassetta, The Journey of the Magi

The Osservanza Master, Saint Anthony Tempted by a Heap of Gold

Giovanni di Paolo, St John goes into the Wilderness

Fra Angelico, Peter Preaching with Mark

When I visited Italy in the early 1980s, the works that most thrilled me were the small panels, generally a narrative group made for altarpieces, made during the 14th and 15th centuries. The brilliant color, the fanciful yet clear forms drew me into the worlds of these Quattrocento artists. This was a world before perspective, before the realistic depiction of the human form (though Fra Angelico's work was more naturalistic than that of earlier artists). It was also a world of faith, of a convinced rendering of things, an almost magical calling up of object and human figure. There is less reliance on the eye than on the modeling hand of the artist.

The medium of egg tempera is perfectly suited to this style of painting with its crisp handling and clear color. When oil paint became more widely used in the later 15th century, artists were able to blend color for a more naturalistic effect. But it's the lack of visual realism that so enthralls me with these small works; they have a compelling truth that comes from the mind and faith of the artist. It's because I love these paintings that I learned to use egg tempera.

September 12, 2009

Tilted Ovals

I completed Tilted Ovals last night, sewing the binding and hanging loops and signing my name with embroidery thread. I'm always surprised at the richness of color and texture that rug hooking provides. I see this piece as a pendant to Cascading Squares even though it is horizontal. They both have geometric forms shifting one over another with a background of graduated color. This creates a sense of movement in space as the oval or square closer to the background color sits back, while the stronger contrast pops forward. You can see that the edges of the ruglet are very irregular, certainly not the perfect rectangle. This sometimes happens when hooking different shapes, and I consider this lack of perfection inherent in the medium, and very appealing.

I photographed the back of this work, thinking you might be interested in seeing how it's finished. The loops of wool that show on the front, are flat against the linen support on the back.


The herb marjoram has a richly colored flower, a deep purple that shows late in the season before the flower head turns to seed. Marjoram self seeds everywhere around the house: in the unmowed fields, in the lawn, in the vegetable garden. I let it naturalize in a few areas because I like having the flowers; they make beautiful dried flowers that keep their color for a very long time. I gather branches of the herb, strip off most of the leaves, and hang them in bunches upside down in the mud room, alongside the drying garlic.