Friday, November 21, 2014

The Cold Room

The time has come for my father-in-law, Leroy "Rex" Alwin. By design he stationed himself on the other side of this door, in line with his new steps, the very steps he passed over, unaware, one last time, in the cold and dark of this early morning. 

The silence, now, of a house without oxygen pumping, lungs coughing, only the dull tock of compartmented clocks and whoosh of mechanical air. The wind in the cold room appeared to express all that was worth expression in this moment. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

The UnBecoming (of a) Garden

When I announced to my landlord that we would be leaving, he could barely contain his joy. It was not so much in regard to our departure as it was the opportunity to share the news with the landlady. The rent shall be raised! Hallelujah! Praise be to God! And that garden, enough! Her disdain for the garden means that this garden plot will be no more, as he wasted no breath to tell me that as soon as we depart, the garden will be filled with concrete.

So the plants you see here, and so many others, will not make it without me, unless someone comes to rescue them this week. Transplant is usually no big deal around here at this time of the year, but the weather is about to turn significantly colder at night, freezing these out and making it harder to identify what is what. That said, the ground is unlikely to freeze and most should be just fine.

Russian sage is a a tricky transplant, although I succeeded well enough last year. It's fuzzy calyx never loses color, the wispy leaves, pungent odor, drought tolerance and also a bee's delight, are plenty of reasons to plant it.

Gaura, still blooming, is also drought tolerant (I have a lot of those). A great plant.

An aside, the petunias started flowering again this October. 

They are unlikely to survive the coming freeze.

Asters, so many asters. Why do without them in autumn? This one doesn't self seed,  is easy to keep in check and is loved by flying insects.

The climbing hydrangea will be coming with me, eventually. 

I cut it back hard a few mornings back and will suffer the cold this week to prune its roots. Along with the climber rose 'New Dawn' and my grandmother's tea, it will rest in a trench covered with wood chips at a friend's in Williamsburg until I can take them to Minnesota.

Plants I have available:

Dwarf spirea (pink flowers, chartreuse foliage)
Everblooming shrub rose (magenta flower)
New England and NY Asters, (blue-purple flowers)
Yarrow (yellow flowers)
Tradescantia (blue-purple flowers)
Snakeroot (white flowers)
Daylily (orange, orange-burgundy)
Geranium (the real one, pink and blue flowers)
Phlox (pink and white flowers)
Sedum (different kinds, large, small, pink flowers)
Primrose (yellow flowers)
Coneflower (pink, maybe white)
Heuchera (copper and mahogany leaves, white flowers)
Dicentra Eximia (pink flowers, lacy blue green leaves)
Goldenrod (non-spreading variety, yellow flowers)
Chrysanthemum (Korean type, apricot flowers)
Sage (deep blue-purple flowers)
Culinary sage (pale purple flowers)
Liriope (Purple flowers, blue berries)
and many others.

If you are interested, email me: You may have to do this on your own, but I will tag the ones I plan to keep if I cannot be present to help out.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Dept. Of Phooey

Below is a screenshot of a photo I opened in Preview and uploaded to Blogger. To my eyes, the color difference is night and day. Yes, yes, I signed up for the annoyingly necessary Google + and changed my photo settings to "please Google, do nothing to them." Yet still, Blogger is uploading lamer versions of photos. Maybe there is Wordpress in my future...

A few nights ago there was a radical fog.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Autumn Oak

On Wednesday I was teaching my architecture students how to visualize within Photoshop, importing base images, adding found textures to planes, tweaking them with exposures, levels, brightness or what have you to give a convincing sense of light and space. Then I caught the sliver of light, in the cleft between the pull-down projector screen and a wall, a space which mirrored the architectural slit between A.M. Stern's high class money and Donald Trump's trash money, an aperture that sharply focused the park as a luxury, a painting, as it so often is, an image of security and status. Olmsted was a genius.

I am employed at an institution, just one block from the park, where it is seen fit to salary its presidential figurehead at one million, six-hundred thousand dollars a year, it is reasonable to renovate the figurehead's floor every five years, where the handbook unashamedly stipulates that deans and their superiors have all drinks paid at social and business functions, but cannot see to provide students who are mortgaging their futures at forty thousand a year with the proper staffing and equipment, nor offer any incentive to keep good people on their staff, and doesn't wish to consider the financial pressures of life in this city. The College has become part of the problem. Yesterday, I resigned.


Last weekend, on my roundtrip to Boston, across the oak-filled coastal New England landscape, I was struck by the intensity of color of the oaks this autumn. I thought there was something unusual going on, and maybe there is, but I figured it a local phenomenon until I caught these oaks on Broadway. They are simply brilliant this year! I've always felt oaks were somewhat drably colored in the autumn, -russet, maroon, sienna and ochre. Yet not this year, not at all.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


I haven't had much to say, lately, if only because I'd say the same thing, repeatedly. Things are moving along in the way that leaves slowly shift from green to russet or snow pack gives way to the dark earth. In two months time I should be getting settled in our new home. My wife is working on the internet issue, ahead of our arrival. Later this week I announce my resignation at work.

Announcing one's intention to leave NYC arouses subtle forms of defensiveness. If you've ever done so, you know what I mean. Leaving anything unsettles the shifting sands that conceal our doubts and talk of it is treated like a contagion -don't spread that shit around, just get out of here!

This is particularly prevalent in the art world of NYC, where proximity to finance and media underwrite the conceit of prominence, but on a personal level it's just the matter of whether or not your presence will help fill out an exhibit's reception, whether or not your support is localized. I understand, but it isn't worth the sacrifice.

Finally, when leaving one is tempted to do all enjoyable things one last time, but I've come to regard this as nullifying as much as it is virtually impossible. So, now, I see those who must be seen, and continue with my responsibilities, and attempt to finish paintings that should be dry before they get packed.