Late Monet: playing with light

There’s a temporary Monet exhibit at the Deyoung museum through Memorial Day weekend. It focuses on his later years, which I associate with the Water Lilies paintings that are kept in the l’Orangerie museum in Paris. They are not my favorite, honestly. They are impressive in size, but are otherwise just shades of pastel colors that I don’t find especially interesting.

What I’m saying: I went to the Late Monet exhibit because I wanted to see the art, but I wasn’t going to get my hopes up too much.

But I ended up enjoying it more than I thought I would. Why? Well….

I don’t think of Monet and Van Gogh as being painters who were particularly similar. But this painting above (and there were others in the exhibit)? May have changed my mind about that. The brushstrokes are similar, and the colors are brighter and more vivid than I remembered. There is a life to these paintings that I wasn’t expecting.

Monet, as always, kept up his habit of painting the same thing over and over again in different seasons and different lights. I always like seeing these paintings next to each other. You know that the one on the right was painted in the fall, whereas the one on the left might have been an early grey spring day.

And this painting of roses? I just liked this one. I like its unfinished edges, how light it is, and how it makes me think of the first really spring-y day of the year.

It’s worth your time if you can get to the Deyoung in the next couple of weeks.

Why you may not want to re-watch Northern Exposure

With all the deserved love of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, there is a certain amount of “remember John Corbett as Chris in the Morning in Northern Exposure? I should rewatch that,” in the air. But it’s not on any streaming service nor is it for sale on iTunes.

But, I happen to own the first season of Northern Exposure on DVD, so I watched the first four episodes recently. A few notes:

  1. Chris in the Morning is used sparingly in these first episodes. He comes off as a David Foster Wallace type in the few scenes he’s in, which I wasn’t aware was a thing in 1990? But apparently it was.
  2. Joel Fleischman is not a nice person. At all. As a teenager, I thought he was charmingly grumpy – after all, he is stuck in a situation he wasn’t expecting. As a grownup: the dude is an entitled jerk and needs to get over himself. Which leads me to….
  3. Maggie is awesome and opinionated and very much her own person. Her character deserves more than to be Fleischman’s love interest, which is sadly the trope she was unnecessarily shoehorned into.
  4. The 1980s greed-is-good Wall Street ethos was much more present than I was expecting.
  5. The whole Holling-Shelly-Maurice love triangle is ICKY AF. Props to the writers for presenting Shelly as being the one who makes the decision and is in control, but the whole 18-year-old girl being fought over by two 60-year-old men? IS DISGUSTING. It reads more as a male TV exec’s fantasy than anything that would actually happen in real life. I haven’t continued past the first four episodes largely because of this dynamic.
  6. It’s jarring every time anyone on the show says “Indian” instead of “Native American”.

Ed is a damn delight. Native Americans controlling their own destiny is a great theme in these episodes. But Northern Exposure is largely more problematic than I expected. The nostalgia value is nice, but I’ll not be showing it to my daughter.

Acknowledging a transition

the bar mitzvah and the beast


What’s it about?
The Bar Mitzvah and the Beast is about an SF Bay Area family that bikes across the country. Why? Well, the father is Jewish and his turning-13-year-old son is an atheist. The father (Matt, also the author) wants to mark his son’s passage into his teenage years; the son tries to go to Hebrew school and have a Bar Mitzvah, but just can’t. So a cross-country bike ride is their compromise. They spend a summer riding from San Francisco to Washington DC. The whole family goes – Matt, his wife, Yonah (the son), and his little brother. (The Beast is an old tandem bike that they buy for Matt & the little brother to ride across the country.)

Why should you read it?
I am not religious (to my mind, you can’t prove either the existence or non-existence of god and I don’t worry about it that much), so I sympathized with Yonah. But I did like the idea of commemorating your child’s passage into their teenage years. My daughter is eleven and as she moves from her childhood to being a teenager, she is changing. Acknowledging that somehow, formally or informally, seems worthwhile. I’d never really thought about that before reading The Bar Mitzvah and the Beast.

The book was strongest when it was talking about Yonah’s rite of passage. It also wanted to be about overcoming your prejudices and drawing awareness to global warming. The marriage of the three themes wasn’t successful to my mind. But it’s still worthwhile.


I can’t let today be the first weekday in more than a month without a post. I even got all my vacation posts scheduled ahead of time! Alas, I have post-vacation ickiness. There were uncountable mugs of tea today. Tomorrow, I will be prepared for more. For the rest of today though, there will be tea and rest.


Visiting the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is awe-inspiring. The canyon itself is mind-bogglingly big. And attempting to capture that through photos of the thing is impossible. It’s an in-person thing.

Not to mention that trying to illustrate how awesome it is in one of those overview shots is a little bit like taking a photo of Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower and expecting it to show how great the city is. It doesn’t work that way.

So here are a handful of photos. Know that none of them truly show how impressive the place is. You really need to go yourself.


bright angel trailhead
The kid and me after hiking 1.5 miles down and back up. The Bright Angel Trail is the one the mules go down. We did not see any mules – they leave at 7am. We didn’t get started until about 10am. We also didn’t get anywhere near the Colorado River. It’s much further down.


canyon view
See? It’s HUGE! And this photo doesn’t really show you how f’ing impressive it is. Seriously.


desert watchtower
This is the Desert Watchtower. It was designed and built in 1932 by Mary Colter, looking to imitate the style of the local Native American tribes. It’s got a steel frame and is way more solid than you might think.


el tovar cropped
The sign for El Tovar, the fancy hotel on the South Rim of the canyon. It was undergoing some roof repairs while we were there, hence no photos of the building itself. We didn’t stay there because roof repairs are loud. The food in the restaurant was divine, however.


hopi indian figure
The interior of the Desert Watchtower is decorated with art in the style of the local Native American tribes. This one is, I believe, designed to look like Hopi art. The Hopi like stripes, and I can get behind that.


ooh ahh point
Ooh Ahh Point was one of our hiking destinations. This one was about a mile down the South Kaibab trail, and the views were lovely. But you can see that we’re barely inside the canyon.


This was the sunset on the first night there. It was almost as gorgeous as the canyon.


wagon wheel
This was the outside of Hopi House, a gift shop full of local art. Some of it was impressive.


yucca plant
A banana yucca, a former staple of the locals’ diet. Not anymore, obviously.


Family day in Monterey

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is a lovely place, and I was glad to get some camera practice time there. It’s more interesting to go now that my daughter’s older and interested in the exhibits more. When she was little all she wanted to do was run around from one to the other, like “ok I’ve glimpsed this one, off to the next!” We never got a chance to explore ourselves. It’s one of the nice things about her growing up.

I think this is one of the best photos I’ve ever taken, and I wish I could attribute it to something other than blind luck.


kelp forest
This is the kelp forest – the sheer diversity in this exhibit is incredible. They pump water in from the Bay outside. This exhibit recreates the environment in the Bay in a way you can see it. I just wish I could have captured more types of fish.


sea turtle
Sea turtle belly! I have a soft spot for giant sea turtles – they’re amazing creatures.



I’ve never been good at taking photos of trails or paths, so I decided to focus on them last week. The proportions always end up weird. I think these are better than my usual, though. Or maybe I’m just getting better at editing.

Stevens Creek Trail
The towers look tall and graceful here. They can be so ugly, contrasted with the plant life, but here they almost seem to fit.


Stevens Creek riverbed
A dry creekbed. There should be water flowing, but we’re in our third year of drought, no end in sight.


Side Path - Stevens Creek Trail
There’s a short interpretive area off the side of the main path. It educates people, but also serves as a rest stop.


Bridge to Stevens Creek Trail
A bridge into a local neighborhood. I was surprised at how well this one turned out – I thought the shadows would doom it…