Monthly Archives: January 2012

Antennae for Design ~ Three Outstanding Films Not to be Missed


We were again transported to another time and place—three fabulous and current films, in three weekends. Our wonderfully transportive film nights began with My Week with Marilyn, which takes place in 1956 and was shot in and around the outskirts of London,The Descendants, filmed in present day Honolulu, and last night we saw The Artist, which takes place in Hollywood, from 1927 to 1932. The Artist is a comedy and drama about George Valentin (Jean Dejardin), a silent film star, and Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), a rising “talkie” star, who meet just as the silent film industry is collapsing. The film is partially silent and filmed to look like a black and white silent film. The costumes are to die for, the interior set designs are predominately Hollywood Regency, and the acting charming and sweet and utterly engaging. Uggie, the terrier, will steal your heart.

From an interview with Michael Hazavanicius, director and writer of The Artist, “I had many deep motivations for wanting to make a silent film. As a member of the audience, I absolutely love the way stories are told to me in a silent movie. It’s not a cerebral response. It’s more a child-like response. Because there’s no spoken language, the way the story engages your heart is special. It’s hypnotic, sensual, not at all cerebral, and I love that sensation as an audience member. My motivations as a director were much more selfish. For me, it was a great experience. It’s what cinema is about, in my opinion. I’m telling a story with images and music. With images, you have the actors, you have the sets, you have the costumes, the lights, everything, and that’s how you’re telling the story. You don’t need words for that. It’s the ultimate experience for a director to make a silent movie. I really wanted to try to do it.”   Link to the full interview with Hazavanicius. 

Jean Dujardin and Uggie 

Techno notes for Joey and Marty: The Artist was made in the 1.33:1 screen ratio commonly used in the silent film era. Though presented in black-and-white, it was shot in color. All the technical details, including lenses, lighting and camera moves, were calibrated to get the look just right. To recreate the slightly sped-up look of 1920s silent films, the film was shot at a slightly lower frame rate of 22 fps as opposed to the standard 24 fps. Courtesy wiki.

Images courtesy Google search.

What is Great Pond Status?

The point of the Aftermath video is to showcase the litter, not who owns the pond. Thank you Daniel for pointing out the litter and thank you Anonymous for sharing that Niles Pond has Massachusetts Great Pond Status. And thank you to all who wrote comments-it just goes to show how much we all care about our beautiful Niles Pond and surrounding environment.

Irrespective of who owns the pond, let’s all please not litter, and if you do see trash left behind, clean it up, and if you can’t manage the job yourself, email the wonderfully good eggs Donna Ardizzoni and her One Hour at a Time Gang for the really tough jobs.

Niles Pond Sunrise

From the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection website: Chapter 91 comprises four basic areas of geographical jurisdiction. Any activity that takes place in one of the hot link areas listed below requires Chapter 91 authorization. The areas are:

Flowed Tidelands – Any project located in, on, over or under tidal waters seaward of the present mean high water (MHW) shoreline. Jurisdiction in this case extends seaward three miles, to the state limit of territorial jurisdiction.

Filled Tidelands – The limit on filled tidelands is: A.) Outside Designated Port Areas, the first public way or 250 feet from mean high water, whichever is farther landward and B.) Inside Designated Port Areas, the historic MHW shoreline (i.e., all filled areas).

Great Ponds – Any project located in, on, over or under the water of a great pond. A great pond is defined as any pond or lake that contained more than 10 acres in its natural state. Ponds or lakes presently larger than 10 acres are presumed to be great ponds, unless the applicant provides unequivocal evidence to the contrary. Ponds 10 or more acres in their natural state, but which are now smaller, are still considered great ponds.

Non-Tidal Rivers and Streams – Projects located in, on, over, or under any non-tidal, navigable river or stream on which public funds have been expended either upstream or downstream within the river basin, except for any portions not normally navigable during any season by any vessel. Additionally, the Connecticut River, the Merrimack River and portions of the Westfield River are within jurisdiction.

Chapter 91: An Overview and Summary ~ Read more to find out how Great Pond Status directly affects Niles Pond: Continue reading


Isn’t Niles Pond gorgeous?  I posted the photo below on Good Morning Gloucester blog on Sunday; the pond looks especially pristine and sparkly in the snow and ice.

The following day Good Morning Gloucester follower and Eastern Point resident Daniel D. wrote to say, “It does look beautiful, and as a Resident of Eastern Point, I love when others can share in the beauty of our neighborhood. Unfortunately, the picture for today should be all the cans, boxes, and trash left behind by these people when they finished skating that day, all glaringly standing out as the snow melts in that exact spot… Hopefully they read this comment and then quickly come and clean it up before the ice melts this week and it all sinks to the bottom of our lovely pond. I’m Just Saying….”

Hey guys—it looked as though you were having a great time, but then had to leave very suddenly—with trash, half a dozen pucks, and even a shovel left behind. Perhaps there was an emergency—whatever the case—could someone who was playing hockey at Niles on Sunday please come and clean up the mess. I picked up much, of what I could reach, but the embankment is muddy and slippery and you will need tall waders to reach the plastic bottles and shovel. Thank you for your consideration.

As Daniel D. correctly stated, all the trash is going to sink to the bottom. Many species of waterfowl dive for vegetable matter and the seeds, stems, roots, and bulbs of submerged aquatic plants. They can easily became entangled in trash. The last shot of the bird’s nest is meant to symbolize the pond’s fragile ecosystem.

Clip of the stunning Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) at 3 minutes 45 seconds.

Hawaiian Quilts

Antennae for Design The Descendants

Saturday night we went to see The Descendants. I found this movie enjoyable on many levels. The cinematography, of lush Hawaiian landscapes, was gorgeous. Lingering close-up shots of the actors and dreamy transitions added to the telling of story. Interesting, too, were the clips of suburban Honolulu neighborhoods. Never having been to Hawaii, the film was an eye opener—I don’t imagine Honolulu neighborhoods as a typical L.A. hillside suburb, nor downtown Honolulu with eight lane highways jammed with choking traffic.

Vintage Hawaiian Quilt

The set designs by Matt Callahan mirrored the story beautifully, and I found much inspiration in the furnishings and fabrics, including vintage rattan furniture, appliqué pillows, and bark cloth curtains. Several authentic Hawaiian quilts added a unique touch, and one quilt in particular played a leading role in the telling of the story. The main characters comprise a modern day family descended from a Hawaiian princess. Early in the film, we see a sunny golden yellow and white, slightly tattered and homey, quilt arrayed over the mom, who is lying in a hospital bed, in a coma and dying. The quilt has been brought from the family home to the hospital to provide comfort. In the final scene, the father and children make their way one by one to the family sofa, and eventually all are cozy under the same Hawaiian quilt, watching television together, and sharing bowls ice cream.

What we think of as the classic Hawaiian quilt is characterized by a bold, radial symmetric design (similar to that of a snowflake) or bold, stylized design drawn from nature. The motifs are often times cut from one piece of cloth, unlike patchwork quilts, which are assembled from many smaller pieces of fabric. The design motif is then appliquéd to a contrasting background. And, unlike patchwork quilts, with quilting stitches worked in parallel diagonal, straight, or circular lines, Hawaiian quilters practice “echo” or outline quilting. The stitches follow the inner and outer contours of the design motif.

Images courtesy of Google search.

The Descendants is based on the book of the same name, written by Kaui Hart Hemmings.

Antennae for Design

Depression Era Quilts

Depression Era Butterfly Buttonhole Appliqué Quilt 

For the first installment of Antennae for Design I wanted to share with you a very special gift that my mother- and father-in-law gave me this Christmas past. My husband’s family lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, a beautiful city sited along the Ohio River. The landscape so reminded early German settlers of the Rhine River and valley, that to this day there is an older area of the city still referred to as ‘Over the Rhine.’ The above butterfly buttonhole appliqué quilt was made in Fostoria, Ohio and Ohio’s long quilt making heritage is similar to that of many states throughout America.

Quilts and quilt making techniques are a reflection of the life and times of the women who made the quilts. The technique of quilting (encasing an insulating fabric between two layers of an outer fabric and stitching firmly in place) has existed throughout history. Quilted garments have been discovered in ancient Egyptian tombs and quilted garments and bedding began to appear in Europe after the return of the Crusaders from the Middle East. The medieval quilted gambeson and aketon were garments worn under, or instead of, armor of maille or plate armor. The oldest American quilts in the Smithsonian date from approximately 1780.

Thinking about the fascinating history of quilts and quilt making in this country, one of my very favorite periods of quilt making was after WWI and through the early 1940’s. Quilts made during this period are commonly referred to as Depression Era quilts; although to look at their cheery colors and patterns, you would never know the women who created them were living in the midst of a depression. Magazines needed to be resourceful during this period of extreme economic hardship, and they were, by selling fashion and optimism. Another way to survive was by including quilt patterns and tips in their publications. Quilting was an activity that women could do to fulfill their creativity while still making something practical for their families. The quilts were typically made from sewing scraps, out-grown clothing, and feed sacks. Part of the war reparations agreement with Germany after the First World War mandated Germany provide the US with their formulas for aniline dyes, which allowed for an explosion in color depth and hues, as well as stability in dyes; purple finally became reliable, as did black.  Charming and sweet prints along with lovely pastels served in stark contrast to the depressive economy. A particular shade of green, now referred to as “thirties green,” was so popular amongst quilters, that the strips that were used to bind the quilt edges came packaged in a can!

Dating quilts is fascinating. If you have a question about a quilt or would like to share information about a family heirloom, please write.

The above quilt was my interpretation of a 1930′s butterfly quilt, which I made for our daughter when she was three. Following in the depression era practice of using what was on hand, you can see the dress scraps from which the quilt was made in her blue gingham dress in the old photo below.

I found a basket full of Scotty dog squares at a yard sale last summer. Scotty dogs were a popular design motif during the first half of the 20th century and this particular Scotty pattern was created in 1940. When I have some spare moments, I’ll look for fabric to back the quilt. Purchasing quilt squares or an unfinished quilt top is a great way to acquire a depression era quilt because, if the squares or top have been properly stored, the fabrics will come back to life with cleaning and pressing, and will not have been used.

Antennae for Design

January, February, March, and for we who dwell in New England, oftentimes well into April, are ideal months for interior home improvements. During these more homebound months I am actively looking for home and garden design inspiration. And, too, with projects that were shelved during the summer months because of seasonal work and summer guests, winter is a great time of year to focus on home improvements. I was inspired to write this weekly series after a recent visit to our home from Joey, Jill, and their two darling daughters. The family stopped by for hot chocolate and story time and Joey was non-stop with investigative questions and curiosity. It got me thinking about the impetus for writing my book, Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities!, which was originally conceived as a guide for young couples and new home owners (and someday, hopefully, for my children when they will one day have gardens of their own). My book grew to be more than that, but I am again thinking of the couples with young children that have recently moved to our East Gloucester neighborhood.

Plaster Ceiling Medallion

To think of it, we are following in an old Gloucester and northern seacoast tradition by tending to the interior of our homes during these winter months, in that of “house-pride.” The town’s carpenters, many of whom were master shipbuilders and shipwrights, would have had more free time during the winter months. Fine carpentry details are evident throughout our house, which was built in 1851. And, like many of Gloucester’s older houses, our home is graced with details created by the skilled plasterers that emigrated from Italy and settled on Cape Ann. Although a modest house, particularly by today’s “starter castle” standards, I wouldn’t trade our lovely 19th century home, with its quirky and elegant details (along with it’s many foibles) for all the world’s McMansions.

I propose Antennae for Design will encompass home and garden design inspiration, home improvement tips, feature interviews with local business owners who specialize in art and design, and after visiting local well-tended homes and gardens, sharing information found there.  Let me know through the comment section or by emailing at of your thoughts and any topic that you may find particularly relevant or of interest.

The Flower That Mrs. Kim Gave Us

My friend Joey’s daughter Madeline, also known as Snoop Maddie Mad, created and posted this video on her blog. She is four, I think. Amazing. Note how she politely directs her sister. Dad Joey is preparing her to be the next media magnate in the family.

Joe at the Good Morning Gloucester Art Gallery

As you may or may not know from reading my blog and newsletters, I am a daily (almost everyday) contributor to my friend Joey Ciaramitaro’s blog, Good Morning Gloucester. I am planning a weekly column for GMG titled Antennae for Design, which I will then post on my blog and also email to my readers (more about that later), but I first want to tell you a bit about Good Morning Gloucester. I was a fan before I was a contributor. The blog is the brainchild of Joe Ciaramitaro. Joe grew up in East Gloucester and he, along with his cousin Frank, own the family business started by their grandfather, Captain Joe and Sons Lobster Company, located on Gloucester’s working waterfront and off East Main Street (yes, you can purchase your fresh lobsters there, at the dock, retail—but at wholesale prices!) Along with his family (wife Jill, daughters Madeline and Eloise, and large extended family), Gloucester is Joe’s passion and his blog reflects his deep love for all things Gloucester. Through his writing, films, and photography, Joe works tirelessly to help and to support and to grow local businesses, local arts and music, and community spirit. And with the help of his contributors he accomplishes this everyday, seven days a week, twenty-four seven. Never a dull moment, GMG is filled with hourly postings of upcoming community events, video interviews and human interest stories about local people and events, news and commentary about issues that affect the fishing community, full video and photo coverage of community events, stories garnered from local historians, photos of our surrounding natural beauty–the thoughtful and thought-provoking coverage is continuous. GMG is wholly unique–as far as I know there is nothing like it–and it is founded on one man’s passion and abiding love for his hometown. If you want to know anything and everything, not just about Gloucester, but the Cape Ann region, visit GMG. I subscribe to GMG and read it every morning with my coffee, and then often times check in again later during the day if I need to search for the time and date of a scheduled community event or activity.

 Note–GMG is entirely free of advertisements of any kind.