The vanishing world of ice


“Vanishing Ice,” the exhibit at the Whatcom History Museum, has been extended until March 16. I saw it on Friday, because I love looking at things that people classify as art and had a mournful feeling that I should learn more about climate change. I was a little sad that many of the paintings are reproductions, but as soon as I got there I was so overwhelmed by the images of the ice that I barely paid attention to anything else. Two of my favorite children’s books are The Golden Compass and East (a novel based on the Norwegian story East of the Sun and West of the Moon), and I loved the evil snow queen in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. All my fantasy landscapes are encrusted with snow, ornamented with fur and reindeer bone, and infested with wolves.

Here is the beautiful ice: I loved Len Jenshel’s Narsaq Sound, Greenland, and Grand Pinnacle Iceberg, East Greenland, by Camille Seaman. I also liked Beechey’s illustration of the HMS Hecla in Baffin Bay, and Paraselene an illustration from Scott’s last 1912 expedition. The illustrator, Dr. Edward Wilson, died on that expedition along with Robert Scott. Ice Lens, by Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey, is also lovely, although I hope they at least send a Christmas card or something to Andy Goldsworthy).

Tiina Itkonen photographed Uummannaq, the village I would like to live in, proving that I am completely mad.

I did, however, find Chris Linder’s photograph of the melting Siberian permafrost at Duvannyi Yar pretty distressing. Frank Hurley’s photograph of Shackleton’s boat trapped in the ice at night is awesome, in the oldest sense of the word – it’s the livid ghost of a tragedy. And Chris Jordan’s Denali Denial is both witty and despairing, the picture that pulled me out of my icy dream.

The icy dream at the top of the post is not from the exhibition; it’s a photograph provided by dmdzine under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license. Thank you.


Winter Solstice


For the winter solstice, which is tomorrow at 9:11 in the morning (PST), I give you Carl Larssen‘s portrait of his daughter, Brita. She is dressed as the Norse goddess Iduna in her traditional role: taunting peasants gnawing on lye-soaked codfish with the memory of fresh fruit.

The Ursid meteor showers are one of the happy features of this solstice. They began yesterday, and should peak on the 21st or 22nd. I’d love to get my child out of bed before dawn on the 22nd to watch the sky, but I don’t think it will happen unless I can drag her and her mattress out on the porch.

Her blue dress is a silk train is a river

I love that hat, too.

I love that hat, too.

The title of this post is taken from an extravagantly beautiful poem – The Blue Dress in Mother’s Closet – by Saeed Jones. (I hope that’s OK.) The official pictures finally came back from the vintage fashion show on the island, and I had to put this one up. This is the dress I love so much. It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever worn. And here’s a picture of my daughter in the audience; I think the fashion show and trapping that rat last week are the only times I’ve ever impressed her. Thank you again to Linda for letting me play dress-up. And Rebecca for getting me dressed.

I want those heels...

I want those heels…

Top photo by Louise Kolstad, bottom photo by Randy Smith


nativity sceneWe’re in the throes of a northeaster now; public radio down in Seattle was all fussed about it, telling us we have snow up here (apparently in town – we have special island weather). I watched it come in on the mainland this morning, very dark and beautiful with distinct edges to the cloud, and rain reaching down and combing its way across the foothills. It’s very impressive, and some people get a little freaked out, but…it’s a storm. There’s no smell of snow, which can really trap us out here: no snowplows. And the ferry stops sometimes in this weather (I rode it once with 70 m.p.h. gusts – supposedly – alternately screaming curses and crossing myself. I like to cover my bases.) But as I said, if it’s bad enough, the crew won’t go, and we’re all forced to stay home. I do enjoy that.

What we have now is noise. The wind keeps some people awake all night, and I have wind chimes outside that ring nonstop and add to my pleasure in the storm, although they seem to put me to sleep. I will get up in the morning and hang quilts over the windows, to block both the drafts and some of the noise, but tonight I like the roar and the wildness.

Rebecca came over today and helped me get my house under control, and it’s starting to look ready for winter – every available surface is heaped with pillows and blankets, my yarn is properly contained, and I have little lights up: white in the bedroom, and amber in the rest of the house. (One of my friends was just enchanted by the amber lights last year; she told me they made my home look like an Alaskan bordello. And she would know.) I also found my Italian crèche, glued the third wise man back together, and let my daughter put it up. It’s her Christmas dollhouse, which is why baby Jesus has lost a foot, but I used to do exactly the same thing with the one that belonged to my mother. I loved it just as much as the tree.

Pretty, pretty things

There’s a sweet lady on the island who has a spectacular collection of vintage clothing, jewelry, shoes, hats….She lets us play dress up for fundraisers sometimes, and that’s what we did tonight, for the island firehall. The firefighters escorted us in, which was excellent because I can’t walk in those f&*(*%& shoes, gorgeous as they are. Here are two pictures of me, me, me, with my friends Rebecca and Karen H. Rebecca was dressing us, because although she is beautiful, she is the soul of modesty. Karen H. is a rock star. Me? I like hats. Elaine’s there, in the middle, just because I like her.

My teeth always scare me in photos. I think I look feral.