Saturday, November 30, 2013

Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs . . .

I have of late become somewhat obsessed with chalk art. You can find me on any given day perusing the aisles of Whole Foods or Mrs. Green's, my attention glued to all the neat signage they employ to make their goods more enticing.  Half the time I forget what I went there to buy I'm so enthralled with all the pretty colors, the impeccably-rendered typefaces, and the shear excess of it all.

Chalk art is experiencing a boom right now; sometimes I wonder if it's somehow related to the popularity of tattoo art and all things hand-drawn, or a new appreciation of illustration art. Whatever it is, I'm liking it. 

So I've been trying my hand at this art form, and really enjoying it! I've always been a big fan of fonts (having cut my teeth in the printing business some years ago), and let me tell you - chalk art is full of fonts! The more the better . . .  mix and match, modern and vintage. Frilly flourishes and beautiful borders are another reason the signs seem so captivating.

I've been doing some sketching and practicing to hone my skills. With the holidays in full swing, they seem a natural subject (and of course, as usual my other two obsessions make it into the practice sessions):
So it must have been kismet today when Bill and I walked into our favorite local breakfast haunt, Mary & Beth's Metro Diner in Stratford Center, only to see a large, blank "Specials" Chalk Board staring me in the face. Itching to turn all that blank canvas into art, next thing you know,  I've got the gig!
The Finished "Specials" Sign At Metro Diner

I'm excited to see where my passion for chalk art takes me next; meanwhile, I'll keep an eye out for inspiration during the holidays (and if I accidentally ram you with my shopping cart, it's nothing personal. I probably was just mesmerized by some Trader Joe's sign tantalizing me from afar).

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Clean Up on Aisle 2 . . .

Today was cleaning day in the garden; one of many to come in the next few weeks. The vegetable garden was priority number one. Out with the elderly tomato plants, shriveled cucumber vines and nasturtium plants, which succumbed to a couple of frosty nights this past week. Remaining in the beds are the original kale and collard plants, now tall but still viable. Also still growing are some younger kale plants (started in late September), beets, as well as a lone garlic chive plant, which has thus far survived the cold snaps just fine.

In addition to the veggie garden, it was also time to pull up the dahlia bulbs, which will be stored once again in my basement until Spring. This year, they will be stored in a bed of shredded paper in a cardboard box. I used the same arrangement last year, which worked just fine. Previously, I had just placed the clumps in a cardboard box. But I read about the addition of shredded paper, and it did seem to insulate them nicely and keep them plump throughout the months in storage last year. So in to their fluffy bed they go!

The rest of the garden is now showing it's past-peak color, but there are still plenty of sights to go around. The big Norway maple has blanketed the lawn with it's dirty-yellow leaves; next step will be to mow them, rather than rake (to provide added nourishment to the soil come spring). The Japanese maples are the among the last to shed their leaves; the leaves are still clinging on with their blood-red and deep purple hues, despite the 25 mph wind gusts which buffeted the garden this weekend.  There are still a few more days left to admire their beauty. The rose bushes are all but denuded, but their rose hips stand out brilliantly against the thorny branches.  A few chrysanthemums still appear sprightly; but they, too, will go into hibernation soon. And the ornamental grasses look regal as they sway in the wind. They will remain all winter, to provide added cover for birds and other small wildlife to weather the months ahead.

I just can't rid myself of the feeling that all of this Fall spectacle, this Autumn show of colors, is happening later and later each year. Whereas just over a decade ago, when we first moved to New England, raking leaves and snow flurries were taking place around the Columbus Day weekend in early October. As time has gone by, there is barely any color at all here at that time, and Thanksgiving weekend is still rife with Autumn clean-up activities in the garden. It's an uneasy feeling that something's definitely not quite right with the climate these days.