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Monday, March 31, 2008

The Knit Knot Tree

Thank You Tree

Blessed be

This gentle tree

That patiently allows

The knitted swag of knotted loops

Upon it’s graceful bows.

A strange conceit

To dress a tree,

When in good time

It’s own sweet leaves

Will gown it with such splendor.

It’s not the dress

But the tree

That causes all the wonder.

Blessed be

This gentle tree.

~Nancy Mellon

Have you visited Jafabrit's Art, one of my blog links? Corrine is an amazingly talented artist with a huge heart, great wit and a bright spirit. She lives and works in a small community, one of our favorite towns, not too far from Rabbit Run Cottage. Corrine is one half of the wonderfully creative duo of Corrine and Nancy Mellon that began this art project that makes people smile, feel dog gone good and, well, just brightens up a dreary day. Today was one of those gray, constant drizzle falling on my head, days but then the Knit Knot Tree provided Mom, Grace and me with a much needed ray of sun. This bright and happy project has been featured in newspapers and television and radio...and yes, even the BBC recently interviewed Corrine about the tree.
There is also more information about this project found here, a link on Corrine's blog site: Knit Knot Tree
From the AP Associated Press:

~Knitters Dress Up Trees for Public Art~

YELLOW SPRINGS, Ohio (AP) — No, that's not a hallucination. That pear tree is wearing a sweater.

Wrapped around the trunk is a colorful, crazy-quilt skin made up of panels of yarn knitted individually by residents and visitors alike. Good-luck charms cling to the yarn. Family photos, poems and jokes peek out of knitted pockets.

The art project in this southwest Ohio village, already known for its offbeat art, has become a conversation piece and even a photo op.

"What takes this to a different level is it is a community thing," said Corrine Bayraktaroglu, an artist who helped start the "knitknot tree" project. "People are really, really enjoying it. They're coming from towns to have their photograph taken with the tree. They're adding stuff to the pockets."

Knitters around the U.S. are dressing trees, street signs, benches, door handles and other objects.

Last month, residents of Columbus, Ind., knitted cozies for 33 ornamental pear trees that line the city's main street. One tree, called the People Hugger, has knitted arms.

Knitted coverings are showing up on trees and doorknobs in Charleston, W.Va. In Houston, knitters have dressed up park benches, car antennas, telephone poles and beer bottles.

"It's fascinating what's going on in the knitting world," Bayraktaroglu said. "Graffiti street art is going to a whole different realm. It's gone beyond just painting on sides of buildings."

Artist Carol Hummel is among the pioneers. She crocheted a cozy for a tree in front of City Hall in Cleveland Heights several years ago. It took her 500 hours and the use of a hydraulic lift to dress the upper branches.

The cozy has survived several winters and even a swarm of cicadas, which left their molted skins clinging to the material.

"There are a lot of copycats now," Hummel said. "A lot of people are getting into putting things on the trees. That's cool."

In Yellow Springs, the first knitted panel — a gold piece with the words "Knitknot Tree" and a smiley face — went up in October. It wasn't until early February that more panels began to be added.

"Then it just took off like crazy," Bayraktaroglu said. "People were coming from out of town and adding their own knitting."

Artist Nancy Mellon said people love to come up and touch the tree, and children like to check out what's in the pockets.

"There was a man — while I was working on the tree — who walked by, and all he said was 'Thank you,'" Mellon said.

Other residents in this village about 15 miles east of Dayton also seem to like the dressed-up tree.

"It looks like Yellow Springs; it's unique, it's colorful, unpredictable," said Lynda Sirk. "It makes me smile. That's what I like."

The tree is vulnerable to the raised legs of passing pooches. Because of that, the panels of yarn don't extend all the way to ground level.

As the panels spread up the trunk, the knitters had to follow, first standing on a chair, then a three-step ladder, a 6-foot ladder and finally an 8-foot ladder. They finally decided they had gone high enough after someone suggested scaffolding and village officials began to worry about someone falling.

"The fear factor has kicked in," Mellon said.

The artists who started the project tentatively plan to remove the knitting on Arbor Day at the end of April and give away the pieces of yarn.

But Bayraktaroglu has some reservations about that.

"People get very attached," she said, "and I think they'll be mad at us if we cut it down."

This poem was also penned by Nancy Mellon
Grace wants to add something so we will be making another trip back to Yellow Springs soon. Listen for my yodeling as I drive into town Corrine! I hope you are all well and enjoying the week. May it be a sweet one for all of you!
Love and Hugs, Susie Q

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Ikea Peeps

It is hard to believe that Easter has already come and gone yet we know it is true. Our Peeps are beginning to fly the coop. One by one they leave the proverbial nest, following one another out into the big world. *sniff* I-Kea...future shopping here. You know. Um. Okay, Silly play on words but oh so true. The Swedish megastore has arrived in our area. It was a rainy, chilly day so what better thing to do than go peruse the retail behemoth's newly opened store along with a few million or so of our friends. Oh yeah. There were people. And shopping carts. And strollers. And even more people. But there were also Swedish meatballs at the cafe and killer throw pillows and cutting boards and baskets and glassware and rugs and frames and, well, let's just say it was fun. Even old frugal Bill, the man I love, was tossing things into the cart. Now that is something you do NOT see everyday! I hope your weekend was a sweet one. Have a good week ahead...
As always, I send love and hugs! Susie Q

Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Gift

I wanted to thank someone very special for an overwhelming gift. Dear, dear Sheila gave me a Picnik membership offer that she received. I had asked her what program she used to add a signature to her pictures and she not only sent me to this site but I now have a 3 month membership in which to try it. I am already in love with it! I have been playing a bit this evening and having the best time. Thank you sweet Sheila. You are amazing.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Adieu Mr. Widmark

Hollywood actor Richard Widmark, who became an overnight star for his portrayal of a psychopathic killer in 1947 classic "Kiss of Death," has died after a long illness. He was 93.

Widmark died at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut on Monday aged 93, his wife Susan Blanchard told The New York Times.

Blanchard told the paper that the actor's health had declined after he suffered a fractured verterbra in recent months.

"Everyman" Richard Widmark was one of the movies' all-time great tough guys. A handsome man, he could contort his face into something gruesome, a sneer conveying a ruthless hatred and sadistic intent -- the savagery to do great damage, the lack of conscience to enjoy it, and the clear intelligence to get away with almost anything.

Before he was a movie star, Widmark was a movie buff. When he was four, his Scottish grandfather started taking the toddler to silent films, and he became a great fan of star Boris Karloff. As a teen, Widmark could smooth-talk his way out of trouble. He was elected class president in high school, and his intent was to become an attorney. When his college announced plans to stage Counsellor at Law, a then-popular play about a lawyer, the brash Widmark auditioned for the lead. He won the role, and he knew on opening night that playing a lawyer was more enjoyable than being one, so he decided to become an actor instead.

Widmark made more than 60 films in a career that spanned five decades which saw him carve out a reputation for playing villains and tough guys.

But it was his debut Oscar-nominated performance as the gangster Tommy Udo in "Kiss of Death" that was to be his most memorable role.

The film features a chilling scene where Widmark's character ties up an old lady in a wheelchair with a piece of cord and then shoves her down a flight of stairs to her death, as her killer cackles dementedly.

Born in Minnesota on December 26, 1914, Widmark grew up in Princeton, Illinois, and after finishing high school attended Lake Forest College on a scholarship, where he studied drama.

He taught acting after graduation, directing and starring in several college productions before heading to New York in 1938 to work in radio dramas. With the outbreak of World War II, Widmark repeatedly tried to enlist but was turned down three times because of a perforated eardrum.

Instead of going to war, Widmark found himself on Broadway, starring in his first stage play in 1943 in "Kiss and Tell", where ironically he played an army lieutenant.

A further role in the controversial play "Trio," which was closed after 67 shows because of its sexual themes, earned Widmark glowing reviews and alerted Hollywood to his talents.

His big break came in the gangster flick "Kiss of Death." Director Henry Hathaway had initially rejected Widmark for the role of Udo, but the film-maker was overruled by Darryl Zanuck, head of 20th Century Fox.

Film critics described Widmark's performance in the film as one of the scariest ever seen on screen.

"One will remember that nasty little creep with the wild eyes and high-pitched laugh, neurotic to the core, which Richard Widmark has turned into one of his finest roles," Raymond Borde and Etienne Chaumeton wrote in "A Panorama of American Film Noir 1941-1953."

"When in doubt, I'd laugh," he said. "And since this was my first picture and the mechanics of picture-making were new to me, I laughed a lot ... And then, too, part of the laugh came from the fact that I've always had a goofy laugh."

"The first time I met (John) Wayne, I had just made the film 'Kiss of Death," Widmark once said, "and Wayne was standing with a drink in his hand and said, 'Well, here comes that laughing s** of a ****h!'"

"Hoods are good parts because they're always flashy and attract attention," Widmark once said. "If you've got any ability, you can use that as a stepping stone."

The success of "Kiss of Death" earned Widmark a long-term contract with Fox, and over the course of seven years with the studio he became known for playing psychotic villains in films such as 1948's "The Street with No Name" and "Road House."

In reality, one of the screen's most vicious psychopath s was a mild-mannered former teacher who had married his college sweetheart, the actress Jean Hazelwood, and who told a reporter 48 years later that he had never been unfaithful and had never even flirted with women because, he said, "I happen to like my wife a lot."

Anxious to avoid being typecast, Widmark badgered his studio bosses to allow him to play other parts, and he was granted his wish with 1949's "Down to the Sea in Ships", where he played a sailor on a whaling ship.

Yet even when not playing villains, Widmark's characters had a flawed quality, as evidenced in 1949's "Slattery's Hurricane" where he played a world-weary pilot who flies a plane for drug smugglers.

Another notable role came in Elia Kazan's Oscar-winning film noir, "Panic in the Streets," where he starred alongside Jack Palance as the police officer attempting to track down a killer infected with bubonic plague.

After leaving Fox, Widmark chose to work outside the studio system for the remainder of his career, appearing in several westerns and social dramas.

Notable later films included a role alongside John Wayne in 1960's "The Alamo" and a memorable performance as a prosecutor in "Judgement at Nuremberg," where he shined amid an all-star cast. Widmark appeared with the Oscar-nominated Spencer Tracy and the Oscar-winning 'Maximilian Schell', as well as with

Burt Lancaster & Montgomery Clift as well as the legendary 'Judy Garland' (the latter two winning Oscar nods for their small roles). Despite being showcased with all this thespian-firepower, Widmark's character proved to be the axis on which this brilliant drama turned.

Widmark also worked with legendary director John Ford in two westerns, 1961's "Two Rode Together" and 1964's "Cheyenne Autumn." The genesis of "Cheyenne Autumn" was research Mr. Widmark had done at Yale into the suffering of the Cheyenne. He showed his work to John Ford and, two years later, Ford sent Mr. Widmark a finished screenplay.

He was a great fan of Westerns and also appeared in these movies of that genre: "Garden of Evil" with Gary Cooper, "Broken Lance" with Spencer Tracy, John Ford's "Cheyenne" and the epic film, "How the West Was Won."

Other notable roles included a detective in "Madigan." In "No Way Out" he played a bitter racist but felt so bad about the lines his character spat at Sidney Poitier that he would apologize to Poitier between takes. In 1990, when Mr. Widmark was given the D.W. Griffith Career Achievement Award by the National Board of Review, it was Mr. Poitier who presented it to him.

Widmark's last movie role came in the 1991 political thriller "True Colors."

He lived quietly and avoided the press, saying in 1971, "I think a performer should do his work and then shut up.". "Los Angeles Times" critic Kevin Thomas thought that Widmark should have won an Oscar nomination for his turn in "When the Legends Die" (1972, playing a former rodeo star tutoring 'Frederic Forrest'. It is surprising to think that "Kiss of Death" represented his sole Oscar nomination, but with the rise of the respect for film noir around the time his career began tapering off in 70s, he began to be reevaluated as an actor. Unlike Bogart, who did not live to see his reputation flourish after his death, well before he retired, Widmark became a cult figure.

Mr. Widmark, who hated the limelight, spent his Hollywood years living quietly on a large farm in Connecticut and an 80-acre horse ranch in Hidden Valley, north of Los Angeles. Asked once if he had been "astute" with his money, he answered, "No, just tight."

He sold the ranch in 1997 after the death of Ms. Hazelwood, his wife of 55 years. "I don't care how well known an actor is," Mr. Widmark insisted. "He can lead a normal life if he wants to."

Well into his later years, the nonviolent, gun-hating Mr. Widmark, who described himself as "gentle," was accosted by strangers who expected him to be a tough guy. There is even a story that Joey Gallo, the New York mobster, was so taken by Mr. Widmark's performance in "Kiss of Death" that he copied the actor's natty posture, sadistic smirk and tittering laugh.

"It's a bit rough," Mr. Widmark once said, "priding oneself that one isn't too bad an actor and then finding one's only remembered for a giggle."

Widmark was married to his first wife Jean Hazlewood from April 1942 until her death in March 1997. The couple had one child, a daughter. Widmark married Susan Blanchard, his good friend Henry Fonda's third wife and widow, in September 1999. Besides his wife Susan, he is also survived by his daughter, Anne Heath Widmark, of Santa Fe, N.M., who once was married to the Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax.

He was amazing this man Richard Widmark and yes. He even did a guest shot on a much loved and very memorable "I Love Lucy."

Ah, remember that one? A classic. The episode, called "The Tour," was the season finale in May 1955. Lucy and Ethel are abandoned by their sightseeing bus tour when they try to get a grapefruit from Richard Widmark's garden. When Lucy is stranded inside the garden wall, she and Ethel, who is outside, launch plans to get Lucy out -- but without comparing notes on how.

So naturally Lucy ends up inside Widmark's house. Under a bear rug.

Farewell Mr. Widmark. You will be missed.

Art Lessons With Grace

Keith Haring Grace's Artistic Tribute To Keith Haring
Grace is studying Keith Haring in art class this week. She is really enjoying the's vibrancy of color and movement and spirit. 2008 would have been Keith's 50th birthday year.
From the biography for school children:

Keith was born on May 4, 1958. He grew up in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, the oldest of four children. He started to draw right away.

"My father made cartoons. Since I was little, I had been doing cartoons, creating characters and stories."

As Keith grew up, he continued to draw and make art. He saw modern art when he visited museums in Washington, DC.

After high school, he went to art school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for a year. He started making big drawings, and when he was 19, he he had his first public show.

In 1978, Keith moved to New York City to go to a different art school. He loved being in the big city. There were big museums with all kinds of art. There were many young artists working in his neighborhood. And there was a lot of energy on the street.

In New York he found his style.

"I bought a roll of oak-tag paper and cut it up and put it all over the floor and worked on this whole group of drawings. The first few were abstracts, but then these images started coming. They were humans and animals in different combinations. Then flying saucers were zapping the humans. I remember trying to figure out where this stuff came from, but I have no idea."

Then Keith started seeing empty black pieces of paper on the subways. He knew that this was the perfect place for him to draw. He started making his subway drawings every day.

"When I drew, I drew in the daytime which meant there were always people watching, from little kids to old ladies to art historians.

Keith started to become famous. All the people riding the subway saw his work, and it was also on TV and in the newspaper.

Keith also started showing his work in art galleries, where many people started to buy them.

"I wanted to sell my paintings because it would enable me to quit my job, whether as a cook or delivering house plants or whatever else I was doing--and paint full time."

In his first show in New York, he painted all the walls with his art, and then put up his paintings and his sculptures. Hundreds of people came to the opening party, and it was a big success.

Now Keith worked harder than ever, and he travelled around the world to show his work. He had shows in Europe, Japan, and all across the United States. He even painted the entire side of a church in Italy!

His paintings and sculptures became very expensive. He wanted everyone to be able to buy his work, so he opened a new store called the Pop Shop to sell his art on posters, buttons, T-shirts, and games. He also worked with children in schools to paint large murals with them, and he made paintings and sculptures for schools and hospitals in many places. In 1988, Keith got very sick with a disease called AIDS. At that time, doctors could not help people with AIDS. Keith knew he was going to die, but he was very brave and kept working as hard as he could until the end. He also made posters to tell people about the sickness and gave money for doctors to search for a cure.

After Keith died, his work still lived. You can find it in museums, in books, on posters, on TV -- and even on the World Wide Web.

Keith wanted everyone to make art, especially children.

For more information about this artist: Keith Haring

Translucent Spirit

I am beginning my visits to you all tomorrow...I apologize for the delay! It has been another busy week. Today we had a meeting with Grace's teacher's after school, Daniel arrived home and tonight, Mom and I had a 2 hour board meeting at our church. We arrived a wee bit early so I took advantage of those few moments to shoot a few pictures. I love the art of stained glass. The oldest section of our church is filled with many glorious examples of this ancient craft. I hope you will enjoy a little tour of these old treasures.
I send love and hugs to you all. I hope your week is going well. Be good to yourselves! XXOO Susie Q

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easter Excitement

Just some of our Eggs-tra sweet moments this past weekend. You will notice someone is absent! Our son, Daniel, has been in Pittsburgh, PA visiting some friends. This was the only chance they all had to get together in awhile and he is having a wonderful time. We missed him but he has really enjoyed seeing the sights and getting together with his friends and their families. He has a few Easter goodies awaiting his arrival back home!
Bunnies of all kinds visit Rabbit Run at Easter time! These were ever so sweet.
And this bunny enjoyed all the baking and cooking that goes into Easter goodies.
Ssh. An artist is hard at work... "Mommy! I swear I did not chase the Easter Bunny! I look guilty? No way! This is my innocent look...I have it down to a science! It was the cats! I swear it was the cats!!" Oh did Grace get goodies from a certain rabbit. Odd fellow that he is, he made quite a mess of some carrots, left a piece of lettuce on the rug and got paw prints just inside the back door! But he did leave some fun things...and Kipper had a field day sniffing his trail. Not bad loot. An egg hiding here... An egg hiding there.We attended the 9:15 am service at our church. The program was amazing. Our choir director is a wonderful and very creative musician as is the music coordinator/organist/pianist. It was uplifting and beautiful. The sun was shining and the skies were blue! It was chilly but you could feel Spring in the air! After church, Grace opened up her Easter goodies from Grandma and Uncle Jim and Aunt Lisa! We all went to brunch at the Yankee Trace Community Country Club. It is such a lovely spot and the food is always so good. I tried to hide this rabbit under my coat but my shivering gave me away... My brother Jim and our Mom Miriam. Brady and his Mommy Lisa. Boo and his Daddy Who is that behind the Foster Grants? Mom got a chuckle out of Boo's silliness! My Mom, the rabbit...and no. She did not have anything stronger to drink than iced tea! This family was at the next table and we all got such a kick out of their Easter bonnets! Aren't they cute? Bye Bye Auntie Sue! We will see you at my house in a little while! Easter brunch was just wonderful... the Yankee Trace Community Country Club. Lisa the Easter Bunny and Grace playing a game. Here Gram, this is for you from me! My sweet girl Another picture of the pretty primroses on my sis in law's table. Posing for Easter brother and sis in law keep a beautiful yard and garden. I will have to show you pictures when things begin to bloom! As you can see, Spring has yet to hop into the Miami Valley! But we are keeping an eye has warmed up and the sun was out on Easter IS on it's way! "Hey Gracie! Can I get in on some of this picture action?" Casey is our newest family brother and sis in law's new puppy. Brady says, "Spin me Grace! Spin me!" What can match the exuberance of a 6 month old puppy and a 10 year old girl? Not much! A boy and his dog! And a girl that gets silly behind her Uncle's back!Chase me Grace, says Boo... ...and spin me again!See? I really AM the Mother Bunny! And here is the Daddy bunny with our girl! And my nephew bunny saying, "Is it all over already?"" Auntie Sue! No more kissing and hugging! Go on home already!" We hope your Easter was as happy as ours was! The weekend was busy and full and fun! The only thing that would have made it even better were if Danny had been home....oh, that and Brian Dennehy stopping by to see me. I wish you all a sweet week filled with smiles and hugs and laughter! Love, Susie Q