In My Opinion
Lisa and I emerged into a meh sort of afternoon – into what the meteorologists call a “marine layer.” The temperature was OK, and there was a fine mist that you didn’t notice when walking but needed your wipers when you were in the car. The sort of summer day that’s not uncommon on the coast. Nothing to affect my mood one way or the other, yet I felt good, very good.
Looking to the East
The Ceramics of William de Morgan (1839-1917)
William Frend de Morgan was arguably the most important ceramic artist of the Arts and Crafts movement. He was born in London in 1839 into an intellectual family of French Huguenot descent. His father Augustus was the first professor of mathematics at the recently endowed University College, London. His mother, Sophia Elizabeth Frend, campaigned with philanthropist Elizabeth Fry for prison and workhouse reform. Both parents held strong views on religious freedom, women’s suffrage and education for both sexes.
The Cream of the Crop
Collecting vintage milk bottles
In bygone times, dairy farmers delivered raw milk, straight from the cow. They ladled it out from crocks or cans to neighbors’ wide-mouth jars, pails or jugs several times a day. Considering the level of cow barn cleanliness, this was, to say the least, hazardous to ones’ health. With the increased use of ice boxes and the advent of pasteurization, the number of daily deliveries decreased. Though it is not known when jugs and jars fell from general use, the New York Dairy Company evidently established the first glass milk bottle factory in 1878. Scores of variations, innovations and reproductions followed.
The ceramic tiles of Portugal
Portuguese cities often boast eye-catching swaths of color – decorative, tin-glazed ceramic tiles called azulejos (ah-zu-lay-jos), a word derived from the Arabic for “little polished stones.” They range from repetitive wall-paper patterns to expansive, intricately designed panels portraying florals, landscapes, landmarks, public figures, historical scenes or religious tableaux. Tilework has been a Portuguese art for centuries; it has been said to carry “the soul of Portugal.”
One Hundred Acres of History
Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum
Visitors come to learn more about the life of early German settlers in Pennsylvania. They will learn plenty, but at Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum, there are no distelfink hex signs. Nor is this the place to find “Amish Country” playing cards or shot glasses, “outen the light” trivets or Amish figural salt-and-pepper shakers. All fun, to be sure, but the rich culture of the first Europeans to settle the Lancaster, Penn., region has more to offer than trinkets and souvenirs. And thanks to the foresight of two brothers, this expansive open-air museum with over 50 buildings and approximately 100,000 artifacts offers an unparalleled opportunity to experience the lifestyle of the Pennsylvania Germans.
If you look at the Fitz Henry Lane painting in “In My Opinion,” (detail shown here) you’ll see six men straining to push a boat into the water. Our boat is about the same size, and I can launch it all on my own (ssh, I use a car and trailer). Life today really is easier than it was 150 years ago.
There can be no more dramatic example of that than the experience of Howard Blackburn. In the winter of 1883 he and his dory mate, Tom Welch, were fishing from the schooner Grace L. Fears. Dories were row boats with a crew of two who fished by hand and transferred their catch to the schooner (which typically had six to ten dories fishing from it). In Lane’s painting you can see a dory pulled up just out of the water. The Grace L. Fears once brought 50 tons of halibut home to Gloucester, a record at the time.