Archive for the ‘visits’ Category

bucolics anonymous

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

The hiatus is over. Just got back from a relaxing, summer’s-last-gasp escape to upstate New York, where reliable wifi is rare, the views stretch on into eternity, the sun is toasty and the crisp alpine air is heavily scented with spruce…

lake placid as seen from the top of whiteface mountain












Lake Placid is… well, as you can clearly see, placid.

There was lots of this…

tramping through the wildflowers












And this…

dipping my feet in the chilly AuSable River




















And since these are the Adirondacks, there was plenty of this (as one might expect)…

antler chandelier in the Adirondack style, of course




















Everything here is rustic, hewn from logs by hearty mountain men. Even the butter…

woody salt and pepper shakers at Kanu




















So now it’s back to the remodel, back to our urban mess, back to life. But not before we take just a moment to listen to the Log Song…

gah: sakonnet garden

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

I just finished planting my front hill (which I will share soon) and was feeling pretty good about the progress of my garden… that is, until Shiva and I visited Sakonnet Garden in Little Compton, RI. This amazing private garden was open to the public as part of the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days program.

My garden now looks extremely young and inadequate. Here’s why (rollover pics for words and such)…

step through the garden gate



















trimmed up high bush blueberries and ferns


















wow, that’s a really tall box hedge



















take a peek through the hedge



















colonnade of redwoods and asarum (wild ginger)



















go on, touch it



















turn around and look out the opening you just stepped through



















bench being devoured by a massive hedge




















You’ll want to biggify this one…

petasites and rhododendrons circle the pond










this arisaema ringens (cobra lily) is huge!



















sculpture in the garden


















clematis climbing a wall of hedge



















whoa, a crazy fastigiate maple



















did i mention that maple is really, REALLY tall?



















an archway leads to yet another garden room



















this one’s for Johnny: foxglove, monkey puzzle tree, hosta and, um, stuff



















closeup of a curved stone wall



















ooh, magnolia macrophylla (bigleaf magnolia)! tons of them here



















colorful red-leafed banana



















gorgeous Red Mughal Pavilion from Dehli



















a shot of gold weaves through the canopy



















Ganesha danced a little jig for us



















podophyllum spotty dotty... great name, amazing leaves



















the bigleaf magnolias really make this garden feel tropical



















Another one worth biggifying…

looks like something out of a glossy magazine, doesn’t it?











i just love these



















a grassy path past the hydrangeas leads us on



















a freshly stacked log wall frames the archway



















this garden room is all about screaming yellow foliage, like cotinus ‘golden spirit’ and hakonechloa ‘all gold’



















what do you suppose is through that passage?



















weeping black beech arches over the black border



















i don’t know what this is but i love the leaves



















now leaving the garden rooms



















meadow of grasses, wild flag and fern











a closeup of iris setosa, (wild flag), just for Shiva







































Maybe someday, 35 years from now, my garden will look like that. Heh. Yeah, right.

shower with appreciation

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

I bring up our recent trip to Palm Springs yet again. Last time it was the use of concrete at our vacation rental. This time it’s the tile in the bathroom of the casita next to the pool. Here, the owner took a better photo than I did…

fabulous casita bathroom, from rental site










Swank, eh?

Here’s my shot. A bit dark but you can see the tile better. Don’t let the reflection of me in my swimsuit frighten you… it was 115 degrees by the pool, you know…

lousy shot of a gorgeous shower




















I’m sharing this for Mark, our tile superhero, who’s got the downstairs bathroom prepped and has thus far politely entertained our aspirations. By this Friday, the finished cork will have had its full 10 days to dry, and he’ll be back at it again.

So what do I like about this bathroom? It’s light. It’s minimal. The aluminum strip is a nice detail…

beautiful tile




















And I like the way they used the aluminum as edging around the shower shelf inset, even if the grout could be a little neater…

aluminum edging on the shower inset




















And the edges of the shower stall step…

aluminum edging on the shower base












And the edge of the end tiles…

minimal shower glass clip




















I’m not suggesting we add an aluminum strip everywhere, no. But I did think this was a nice detail and solved some of the issues about how to deal with the corners around the shower shelf inset. That is all.

That, and nice tile.

something concrete

Monday, May 7th, 2012

You may have missed it but I mentioned a week or so back that we had just returned from renewing our 10th anniversary wedding vows in Palm Springs…

renewing the vows




















… with besties Lupe and Matt, who were with us on the very same spot a decade ago. Both times at dawn, no less. Very good sports, I must say.

But this post isn’t really about that. It’s about my appreciation for the use of concrete at the recently restored midcentury modern rental home we stayed in…

the MCM house in palm springs












I know that sounds strange but bear with me and see if you don’t agree.

First of all, it looked as though tile had been removed from the floors to reveal the concrete underneath…

concrete floor view




















The owners scored it and polished it. Nice detail…

scored concrete floor




















Kinda looks like terrazzo! So jealous. FYI, polished concrete is really difficult for a rattlesnake to move across… not that that will stop it from trying.

concrete floor with rattlesnake












No worries. It ended well.

There was plenty of concrete outside the house, too. Around the pool…

concrete with stone around the pool area












I love this look…

concrete with stone closeup




















Around the sides of the house…

concrete with stone along the side of the house




















Along the driveway…

concrete walk alongside the driveway




















There was a cozy little concrete patio out front, too…

concrete patio












A peek over the wall (sorry, I couldn’t resist) at the house next door tells me it was likely remodeled by the very same owners. Similar patio design…

more concrete and stone next door












Yet another nice pool. The front driveway, which is on a slope not too dissimilar from ours in Providence, is concrete and gravel, something we’ve thought might not be possible…

driveway on a slope












We keep thinking the gravel may want to travel out from between the pads but it doesn’t seem to be doing so here. Hmmmm.

This house had an awesome scored sidewalk to boot…

driveway with complimentary sidewalk












Hard to tell from my early evening shot but that’s a gorgeous Corten wall in front of the house (click to biggify it and you’ll see it better).

Be still my beating heart.

the desert garden at huntington

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

A rainy day in Providence seems like a good time to revisit sunny southern California. We stopped by the Huntington Botanical Gardens in Pasadena two Fridays ago…


There wasn’t time to explore all 120 acres, but being fond of thorny, spiky, alien-looking plants, I definitely didn’t want to miss the 100-year-old Desert Garden. My friend John will appreciate this post.

Before I share some of the “ow! my eye!” plants, take a look at this massive bamboo just inside the entrance…









































And now, without further delay, I bring you glorious blue skies, oppressive heat and where’s my water bottle?

(As always, click to biggify)…













In case you didn’t catch it in the shot above, please note: some aloes can grow to become trees? Really? I had no idea…





















There’s no sense of scale in this shot. Those plants are at lease 2′ to 4′ across…













What the… euphorbia also grows like trees here? 6′ tall. So unfair…









































I love this sea of happy aeoniums…

























And these octopi…

































And these starfish…



































I’ve seen radio towers shorter than this thing! That’s easily 50′ tall…





















And the agaves are crazy huge, as you might imagine. Do not hug them…













I have no idea what this bizarre specimen is but look closely — green lily-like blooms and it’s about to launch missiles…





















Crazy. Who designs these things anyway?

Do yourself a favor and take a quick 360 spin around the Desert Garden. It’s wondrous. Better yet, go there in person because my pictures do the collection no justice. Bring protective eyewear.


giganteus! oh my

Monday, October 17th, 2011

I’ve been known to stalk plants. This year, Miscanthus ‘Giganteus’ (Giant Chinese Silver Grass) has been my prey. I came across it last summer when I was stuffing my yard with other grasses — unfortunately, I only came across it online…

miscanthus giganteus photo by marcia sofonoff

miscanthus giganteus photo by marcia sofonoff















Wowza. Giganteus! More info here. You may have come across it while ogling Margaret Roach’s garden via A Way to Garden

miscanthus-giganteus-fall via

miscanthus-giganteus-fall via (best garden blog ever)


Gorgeous. But try to find it at a nursery. Impossible! Actually, that’s not exactly true. In July, I finally stumbled across it at Farmer’s Daughter in South Kingstown, RI, far toward the back in their display garden…

miscanthus giganteus at farmers daughter



















To look at, not to buy. But get a load of that stature! And I’m very impressed at how it stands up to the wind…

miscanthus giganteus vs. the wind












So after a little more research I found that you can easily pick it up on eBay (in season). That’s where I got mine this summer — cheapcheapcheap. Little known fact: apparently it’s been grown in Europe as a source of biofuel since the ’80s and it’s finally making its way stateside for the same purpose.

I really wanted to see this monster at work in a real-life garden — in person and not just online. So when I saw that Duncan Brine was opening his Hudson Valley garden to the public for the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days schedule, I was psyched. We were sooooort of headed in that direction anyway last weekend for a visit to NYC. It was worth a jog to the north to see what he’s done with six acres.

This stand of giganteus greets you on the way in (click to biggify)…

brine garden giganteus hedge












So what secrets lie on the other side of that 12′ hedge?

brine garden giganteus on the other side












Twisting gravel paths and naturalistic plantings. I love the way the giant miscanthus contains this garden.

And how about a zinc bench ringed by giganteus? Cozy…

brine garden bench in giganteus












I can so make this work, even in our urban garden. My eBay plants are still mere spindly stalks at around 6′ or 7′. They’re eager to get into the ground before winter…

my giganteus




















Can’t say as I blame them. Maybe this week?

Thanks to the Brine Garden and its lovely host, Duncan, for encouraging my obsession. And for not making fun of me for my stalkerish tendencies.

autumn at storm king

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Spent an absolutely gorgeous Columbus Day afternoon in complete awe at Storm King Art Center in New Windsor, NY. If you haven’t been, go. My meager photography skills cannot fully capture glory on such an epic scale (rollover for credits)…

storm king | calder’s the arch from a distance
















storm king | adonai by alexander liberman, ’70-’71



















storm king | spheres by grace knowlton, ’73-’85












storm king | three-fold manifestation II by alice aycock, ’87




















storm king | three-fold manifestation II by alice aycock, ’87




















storm king | kadishman corten sculpture with feather




















storm king | suspended by menashe kadishman, ’77




















storm king | corten steel closeup




















storm king | adam by alexander liberman, ’70




















storm king | five modular units by sol lewitt, ’71












More Sol Lewitt? Yes, please!

storm king  | momo taro by isamu noguchi, ’78




















storm king  | momo taro by isamu noguchi, ’78




















storm king  | momo taro by isamu noguchi, ’78




















storm king stream: a folded drawing by stephen talasnik, ’09-’10












storm king stream: a folded drawing by stephen talasnik, ’09-’10




















storm king  | for paul by ursula von rydingsvard, ’90 to ’92




















storm king  | for paul by ursula von rydingsvard, ’90 to ’92




















storm king  | detail from waiting for ufo by nam june paik, ’92




















storm king | seeing calder from von rydingsvard




















storm king | black flag by alexander calder, ’74




















storm king | black flag by alexander calder, ’74




















storm king | five swords by alexander calder, ’76












storm king | five swords by alexander calder, ’76




















storm king | luba by ursula von rydingsvard, ’09-’10




















storm king | south field with mark di suvero sculptures and bix




















storm king | above south field












storm king | foci by chakaia booker, ’10




















storm king | foci by chakaia booker, ’10




















storm king | untitled by david von schlegell, ’72




















storm king | untitled by robert grosvenor, ’70




















storm king | the arch by alexander calder, ’75




















storm king | the arch by alexander calder, ’75




















storm king | the arch by alexander calder, ’75




















Didn’t make it through the entire property. Next time, bikes! Missed Maya Lin, Richard Serra, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Goldsworthy, Henry Moore, and on and on and on. Speaking of which, did you catch the Henry Moore exhibit at Denver Botanic last October?

Sunday bonsai bonus

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Yesterday I made it a mission to find bonsai wire. One of my threadleaf Japanese maples suffered an unfortunate indignity to a main branch this winter. It snapped clean off and now I need to train another branch in the right direction to take its place.

With the invaluable help of iPhone GPS, I ended up at Bonsai West in Littleton, MA. Why it’s West and not North I have no idea as it’s practically in New Hampster…


It’s a lovely way to spend a gray spring morning and well worth the trip. Their bonsai yard is ohmigodlookatthat…




There are pines a plenty…


And lots of larch…


Ginkos galore…


And wondrous weepers…


Not wots and wots of weepers but there was at weast one. And yes, I found my wire. Thank you, Bonsai West.

the best surprise

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

More proof that you just never know what a new day will bring you… So this morning the doorbell rings. And who’s on our doorstep? Two happy, shiny offsproing of Irving B. Haynes, the original architect of the house we love so much. What the?

Seth and Libby stopped by to say that until they happened across mymodremod, they’d had no idea that this house was their father’s creation — even after passing by it for so many years. We had a lovely chat and stumbled them through our embarrassingly fakakta interior.

And then they asked if we’d like this (click to biggify)…

irving b haynes collage

It’s a collage of ski passes made by their father in 1971 — the year construction began on our house. Hailing from Maine, Irving liked to take the family skiing around New England. Nice bit ’o regional history there…

irving b haynes collage, detail 1

irving b haynes collage, detail 2

irving b haynes collage, detail 3

How sweet is it of Seth and Libby to share a little bit of Irving with us? That’s so nice! We’ll most definitely be in touch. I’d love to prove to them that we’re really not slobs. Well, mostly not slobs anyway.

Thanks, you two! And I promise we’ll figure out the glitch in posting comments so that you can chime in every now and then.

del sol

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

Hey, guess what? It’s snowing again! So tired of grey skies. I could use a little something to brighten my day, how about you?

Digging through my snaps for inspiration I came across last fall’s trip to Mass Moca to see the Sol Lewitt retrospective. Was a downpour day so the light was low. Even so, the strong colors and graphics in his conceptual art are really  a pow in the eye socket…


massmoca_wall drawing retrospective














Thanks, Sharon, for the profile view! Love that shot. All those graphics make me want to take to our walls with a paintbrush.

More info on the Sol Lewitt show and his work…