my little slice of heaven

my little slice of heaven
My little slice of heaven, click image to see more

Thursday, March 29, 2012

What I'm Listening To Now

Zee Avi- Ghostbird "Live Performances"

James Vincent McMorrow- Early In The Morning



The Artist's Life

Having grown up in a family that had an appreciation for all things artistic, I've always been fascinated by the homes, studios and environments artists create for themselves. I'm totally absorbed in blogs like The Selby showing creative people in their own homes/studios (check out the bit on Andy and Kate Spade's apartment). In my daily peregrinations around the blogosphere, I discovered a story on the home of British/Australian artist David Bromley, originally published in the French magazine IDEAT , I stumbled upon another great blog, which picked up the story  Merchant Design. Check out Bromley's fantastic Melbourne digs below.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


My wife returned from New York the other day very excited about a gallery she'd visited with her friend and co-conspirator, Keith Johnson, the antiques and found objects buyer at Anthropologie. Check out the wonderful photographs below.

Sasha Wolf Gallery is proud to announce a solo exhibition by Katherine Wolkoff.
Block Island, located 11 miles off the coast of Rhode Island, is an important stopover for birds on the offshore migration route of the Atlantic Flyway, offering respite at sea during their seasonal flight. Elizabeth Dickens, a long time resident, began collecting dead birds on the island beginning in the early 20th century. She had them stuffed and catalogued, amassing a valuable ornithological record consisting of 172 specimens. The cause of death—flew into a lighthouse, death by cat, death by telephone wire—was always noted.
Katherine Wolkoff’s pictures of these birds, inherently formal and archival, reveal the artist’s affection for her subject. The photographs seduce the viewer with their anthropomorphized staging; the white background, hint of backlight, and close proximity create an intimate relationship between us and the birds. The choice to photograph the subjects in near silhouette evokes how birdwatchers identify species in the wild. In Wolkoff’s photographs, this aspect brings the birds—in whatever moment they were posed, whether at rest, about to take flight, or even socializing—strangely back to life.
This is Katherine Wolkoff’s first exhibition at the Sasha Wolf Gallery. Her photographs have been widely exhibited including exhibitions at Danziger Projects, the New York Photo Festival and Women in Photography. Her photographs are included in the collections of the Addison Gallery of Art and the Norton Museum of Art. Born in 1976, Wolkoff graduated from Barnard College and received her MFA in photography from Yale School of Art.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Slings And Arrows Of The Drivers' Test

I grew up in a (once) very rural area of Pennsylvania, outside of Philadelphia. The Bucks County of my youth was not one of strip malls, mcmansions and bypass expressways, it was one of corn fields, horse farms, and charming old fieldstone farmhouses. By the time I'd turned 16,  I'd been driving tractors, pickup trucks and the pumpkin yellow Volvo wagon usually captained by my mother, for nearly four years. Driving on everything from muddy farm trails and the quarter mile driveway at the family farm to the occasional mid-night jaunt around the block(ahh, youthful hijinx).
The trip to the State Police barracks in Dublin to take the drivers test, probably about two weeks after getting my permit, was really only giving the imprimatur of the State to something I'd been doing as virtually second nature for years.
My children, having spent their lives in suburban Philadelphia, have had a different relationship with motor vehicles. There was neither the opportunity nor the inclination to learn to drive before the age of 16. In fact, some of their friends appear entirely uninterested in getting a drivers' license, perfectly content to hitch rides with friends or continue being chauffeured by their parents. Both scenarios are a little deplorable. There's always the friend with the car who ends up paying for gas and associated things like parking. And for parents, good Lord, haven't we driven them enough miles? It must be to the moon and back.
I just returned from the drivers' license test center with my younger son, who's logged the requisite 65 hours behind the wheel, and by all accounts seems to be a good driver. Both he and his older brother took classes and lessons through Street Safe Driving School most of whose teachers are off-duty or retired policeman. Both kids have taken an accident avoidance driving seminar through Street Safe, and my older son has received an insurance discount now that he's licensed. As we waited in line at the test center, we watched as the 3 or 4 student drivers ahead of us failed, one after another. As our turn came, the officer administering the exam said to me, in an aside, that he'd much rather be sleeping in this morning.
As we drove home, my son(riding shotgun) was fuming at the indignity of having failed such a simple test. I tried to remain philosophical...maybe another week or two of practice?

Friday, March 23, 2012

More Than Just A Pretty Label

I'll spare you the hyperbole.
If you fancy the earthy, mineral  terroir of Rhone wines
check out this one, our current house wine.

What I'm listening to now

A Hole In The Earth Into Which You Pour Money

Peter Smith, the pond guru
Peter has been wrestling with our fish pond each spring for several years. Ordinarily, it receives a fresh coat of neoprene pond paint and a week or so of fine tuning the filter and associated plumbing.

Extraordinary Spring

This year's extremely mild winter in the Mid-Atlantic region, in fact the entire Northeastern portion of the country, has segued into an equally dramatic Spring. Events that ordinarily span several months  seem piled into a couple of weeks. For me, this means that all the little projects required to get our property up and running for the season are jammed into the last two weeks of March.
Our place, Hickory Hill, (so named well before Bobby Kennedy's place in Virginia) sits abreast the Wissahickon Valley in Philadelphia. The house dates from the 1840's and was extensively landscaped by architect Frank Miles Day, in whose family it remained for some 70 years.
To me, of course, this means hundreds of linear feet of stone walls built in the 1890's upon which gravity has had it's irresistible way. It seems that every year there is some stretch of wall that needs rectifying, as you might imagine, it's Sisyphean at it's most literal. My friend Martin Smith, a stone mason and Brit trained in the National Trust is a fixture at our place. He is to dry stone walls what Jose Garces is to Tapas.
Between Martin working on the walls and steps in the front border and Mary Costello's (our incredibly gifted horticulturalist/garden visionary) team tinkering in the beds and trying to keep the fountain in the rose garden water tight, there seems to be a feverish buzz of activity. Also dating from the 1890's, this water feature is an annual frustration...water; can't keep it out of a boat and can't keep it in a fountain.

I am astonished that the grass needs cutting on March 23, what will summer bring?


I"m always amazed at the retail experience when I go to an Apple Store. Yesterday I had to go procure a new laptop for my son, a high school senior. He had managed to make it through almost his entire four years of high school with the Mac laptop that we got him in 8th grade. (Thank heavens for Apple Care.)
I went to Apple in Ardmore's Suburban Square, planning on being there as the doors opened, which I did.
Within minutes of my arrival, every member of the numerous blue T-shirt clad staff was busy with a customer, and lines were forming in many places-it was 10:15, only 15 minutes after opening, on an ordinary day.  No wonder they have nearly $100 Billion in cash on there balance sheet, they have not only reinvented personal technology and industrial design, but the retail experience itself. Of course I left with my AMEX feeling somewhat overheated-just the way Steve Jobs would have had it...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The girl with 7 horses, Ulrika Kestere

Check out this dreamy photo project by Ulrika Kestere

Sissinghurst, one of my all-time favorite gardens.

Sissinghurst was home to Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicholson, part of the 'Bloomsbury group', friends and/or lovers of Virginia Woolf amongst many others. Both Vita and Harold were avid gardeners and Sissinghurst, now part of the National Trust is their legacy, if ever you have a yen to visit, it's a manageable day trip from London.
view through the tower

the tower from the cottage garden

view from the tower

the pleached 'lime walk'

the pleached 'lime walk'

the approach to Sissinghurst

view from the tower of the service court and barns

the white garden

the white garden

the white garden

view from the tower

Springtime; Sweet Peas

The early warmth of mid-March has us all thinking of the garden.