On a beautiful February day I looked down on Main Street in Annapolis to our harbor. Overhead the colorful Maryland state flags showed off the ancestral colors of our state’s founding family, the Calverts.
Not too many people jostled for space on the sidewalks, the air was balmy, and life was good. Without being jostled by too many tourists, I slowly walked along our historic buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries, and then made a special stop at one of my favorite stores, Mary and Blanche, which sells preposterously funny cards and novelties. A friend of mine is sick, so co-owner Marian Rainford (a.k.a. Blanche) led me to the silliest of cards.
She and her mother Melissa Rainford (a.k.a.) Mary opened their humorous cornu copia just in time for this recession, which they are weathering wonderfully, thank goodness.
Leaving downtown, my next stop took me to the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, the center for all art and art education in Anne Arundel County. Its President Linnell Bowen and I once worked together on historic preservation for the Historic Annapolis Foundation. Linnell accepted my gift of fabric for MD Hall’s theatre department, walked me through the current exhibits, and reminded me to walk the maze in front of the main building.
Thanks to the TKF Foundation, MD Hall created a miniature maze on the same pattern as the 13th century one in the cathedral at Chartres in France. When we visited the original maze, most of the maze was obliterated by chairs and candle stations. Joe, Eleanor, and I were disappointed. The cathedral had cluttered it over with folding chairs and candle racks. Since the Chartres maze is the last surviving medieval maze in a church, we felt it should have been open to enjoy.
At Maryland Hall, however, brown and grey tiles clearly delineate the pattern. One walks on the grey tiles, whose path looks like this.
Walking this path takes me about ten minutes of total concentration and results in my forgetting all my cares. It’s a really good feeling.
Cherishing my up feeling, I quickly drove home to walk with the cats through my own garden. As usual, my eye gravitated to all the bright colors and flowers like this variegated camellia that blooms every February.
The winter aconites have crept up from the soil.
The daffodils are just beginning their golden spread under the trees.
The hellebore is blooming long before Lent.
And my favorite image of all shows the winter beauty of red berries on the bare branches of a deciduous holly tree contrasted with the pink blossoms of an early flowering quince bush.
While I rhapsodized, the cats kept their focus on the house and their dinner.
Thanks for reading my blog!
The winter holidays have arrived, and I’m counting down to the winter solstice December 21, when the days get longer again. The leaves are long gone from my trees, however my yard has not yet received a killing frost, so the last flowers of summer endure. A few marigolds sparkle in yellow, sage plants display in red and purple, and that’s about all the color I can still enjoy. To me, the color freak, this is a dreary season, made even more so by rainy days like today. Tonight the cloud cover will totally obscure the meager light from the stars and the partial moon. Fortunately we humans have developed coping techniques with our winter holidays. For Joe and me, that means a lighted tree in the yard,
a big wreath on the front door,
and Christmas trees in the house. I was raised liking Christmas and then I married a total nut about the holiday. For our first Christmas, we had little money so we made our own ornaments. I made 12 dozen sugar cookies, cutting them really thickly. Joe the artiste then went in high gear decorating each one in my mother’s sour cream and powdered frosting. He painted the cookies in seasonal colors as their base coat, followed by lovely little designs specially designed for each little masterpiece. We tied each one up with a ribbon to hang all over our first tree. At that time in our lives we had no camera, so I cannot show off his beauties; you must just imagine his artistry from my words and your knowledge of the customization Niermann Weeks has always provided our patrons.
On New Year’s Day, we packed each cookie in tissue paper on the off chance they might survive till another Christmas. And some of them actually did! They turned into thick bars of colored soap-like material, so we hung them up again. The very last relic broke about 20 years later, but in the meantime we had accumulated a more varied hoard of ornaments. After four decades of marriage, we now need two trees for a proper display. Our nine footer sits in the living room window and is decorated 360 °. Using a timer and coming home at night in the dark, I need the satisfaction of all the sparkle.
In the foyer sits the three footer, dedicated to just shiny ornaments.
In the early days of Niermann Weeks, Joan Schenking managed our paint studio. Each year she led a weekly hobby night, in which volunteers used her designs to make special ornaments. I loved the years in which we used a delicate jeweler’s saw to cut thin sheets of steel into portraits of her dog Rusty the golden retriever, shown here in his base coat of white lacquer.
my cat Ms. Kitty in her base coat of yellow lacquer,
and other relevant creatures like a blue crab from Maryland,
The angel seques me into acts of charity, one of which Niermann Weeks has already done. We contributed the main tree, all eleven feet of it, to the Georgetown Jingle in Washington DC.
A dedicated volunteer group raises funds to support the pediatric cancer patients at the Georgetown University Hospital. A major fundraising event is a silent auction of holiday trees decorated by DC-area designers, which the Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC in Georgetown (www.fourseasons.com/washington) allows us to display in their main lobby. For more information on the Jingle, look both at their website www.georgetownjingle.com and on their Facebook page. Or you could come bid at the auction on the evening of December 11 for a tree. All proceeds do go to help make life better for the children battling cancer.
Now that all my decorations are up, and the longer days are just around the corner, my soul is happy, and I hope yours is too.
Happy Holidays, and thanks for reading my blog! It’s a pleasure to share with you.
We at Niermann Weeks celebrated by cleaning up the factory, all 58,000 square feet, and then cleaning up the grounds. Now there’s a significantly less dust pollution in the world.