Textile time travel

The Textile Museum is showing a collection of large, contemporary art quilts that are a joy to behold.

Had these abstracts been rendered in paint, they would have been indistinguishable from works of 20th century fine art, but that would have meant the loss of rich detail and texture. Much better in the chosen medium!

On the floor below, hand-sewn heritage quilts from two centuries ago make an interesting contrast. Colours are darker and hues more subdued. Pattern is there to delight delight the eye, but these are utilitarian objects, meant for use more than display.

The exhibit with older pieces was themed “Crosscurrents”, to display Indigenous as well as European-influenced designs.

Our times are so different from those of even our recent ancestors, it looks as if we come from completely different cultures. And I guess we do.

Wednesday’s child is full of woe

It’s a rainy Wednesday and the old oak tree across the street is being taken down. One of the crew estimates its age as between 150 and 200 years.

Woe. It’s as if the weather is feeling as gloomy as I do about the loss. That’s a fallacy, of course, and a pathetic one at that.

I learned the term “pathetic fallacy” in school and assumed that a contraction of the word “sympathetic” was at play … as if the Forces of Nature were acting in sympathy with Human Emotions.

But no. It seems that the English critic John Ruskin coined the phrase back in the 1800s and he really meant “pathetic”, just as we use the word today. Ruskin was scorning the falsity of the poetic device, popular with Romantic poets of who preceded his time.

Two Medicine Men, by Helen Andersen. Detail of my grandfather, Dr. W.E. Anderson

Which brings me to my grandfather. My mother’s father was a Sunday painter. He was a medical doctor by profession, but an amateur aesthete by inclination. My mother, Helen Andersen, adored him and told me, in hushed respect, that he “read Ruskin”.

Helen thought Ruskin’s writings must have been very profound, because she couldn’t understand any of it. Actually, I think Helen did get it. The little Ruskin art theory I’ve read seems like nonsense to me.

I wonder what my grandfather would have thought of Helen’s painting of him as a “Medicine Man”. I think it’s a hoot.

As you can tell, the loss of that old oak tree has left me quite unhinged.

Summer Ratatouille

Your Royko Recipe for August, 2018

Summer Ratatouille 

This recipe uses less heat than long-baked versions.
Food & Wine, July 1992, Page 85. Credit: Ann Haskell. 

Ratatouille is incredibly flexible. Enjoy it as a side dish. Use it as an omelette filling. Serve it over pasta. Or, fill cornmeal crepes with it. 

A personal note. Eggplant soaks up a great deal of oil in cooking. And if you feel as I do that its flavour is not worth writing home about, by all means eliminate it. If you want a substitute, slice 2-3 small zucchinis, washed but not peeled, and use them instead. 

Serves 4.

6 tbl. olive oil-or less
1 medium chopped onion
1 julienned green bell pepper-1/4-inch thick
1 julienned yellow bell pepper-1/4-inch thick
2 cloves minced garlic

1/2 julienned red bell pepper-1/4-inch thick
1 medium sliced globe eggplant-1/4-inch thick
1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms

Freshly ground black pepper

3 large halved lengthwise, sliced tomato-1/4-inch thick
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat oven to 400 ̊. In a large, heavy, nonreactive skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over moderately high heat. Add onion, garlic, peppers, eggplant and mushrooms and sauté, tossing and adding more olive oil as necessary, until the vegetables soften, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper and add the basil. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for 1 minute longer. 

Transfer the vegetables to a 14-inch oval gratin dish and sprinkle the cheese on top. Cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Serve hot, warm or cold. 

Ratatouille will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for 3 days. 

Serendipitous murmurations

Repairing an older blog post that I broke while fighting off web attackers, I discovered that the source of the above video has ceased to publish. A pity, since the artsy-techy subject matter was often quirky and clever.

On the other hand, it’s a good thing, because the host of ufunk.net has moved on to concentrate on his own art works.

His Political Lamp, for example, ” … reacts in real time to the tweets from Donald Trump, and other political events on Twitter.”

It works like most news shows, minus the blather and hand-wringing. Better, I think.

It goes with another recovered post, praising a beautiful turn of phrase: “ … sailing into the dangerous shallows of everyday reality.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!